St-Barthélémy Island, Galapagos Photo by Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash

Galapagos Airport: Environmental Tourism

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People who love to travel but are concerned about the environmental impacts of flying should consider a trip to the Galapagos. In 2017, the Ecological Airport of the Galapagos became the first airport in Latin America to be recognized as carbon neutral. This was granted through the Airports Council International, whose Airport Carbon Accreditation Program is able to accredit airports that are trying to reduce carbon emissions. The airport has offset over 71,000 kilograms of CO2 and has provided over 340,000 carbon-neutral air miles. The airport has also been awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification by the US Green Building Council.

Built in 2012, this airport uses materials from the old building and was built using 80% recycled materials. This includes steel pipes that are repurposed from the oil fields in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Furthermore, this airport is the first in the world that is run using 100% renewable energy, utilizing both solar and wind energy. 65% of the total energy used by the airport comes from wind energy, and 35% is provided through the PV panels that are installed on the airport walkways. The airport’s fresh water comes from its own desalination plant, which converts seawater into fresh water for the airport.

The airport has partnered with CarbonClick to support carbon offsetting projects. This includes supporting the Tambopata-Bahuaja Biodiversity Reserve, focused on tropical rainforest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. Another one of the projects supported by the Ecological Airport is to provide more environmentally sustainable cookstoves in the cities of Ayacucho and Huancavelica in Peru. This program has distributed over 30,000 cookstoves that reduce the need for wood while providing environmentally friendly cooking techniques.

The Ecological Airport of the Galapagos is one of the eight environmentally friendly airports in the world as defined by the Airport Industry Review. These airports include the Delhi Indira Gandhi Airport in India, Boston Logan Airport and Denver International in the United States, the Zurich Airport in Switzerland, the Oslo Airport in Norway, the Stockholm Airport in Sweden, and the Singapore Changi Airport. Many of these airports include a form of renewable energy similar to the one used in the Galapagos. In the case of the Denver International Airport, they have the largest solar power farm of any commercial U.S. airport, with four arrays capable of generating enough electricity to power 2,500 homes. The Singapore Changi Airport possess roof mounted solar panels, and the Boston Logan airport installed 6 foot wind turbines on the top of the airport’s offices.

Due to its status as a protected National Park, there are no international flights directly to the Galapagos International Airport. Instead, travelers hoping to arrive in the Galapagos should take a flight to Quito or Guayaquil, which they can then use to get to the Galapagos. Research estimates that air travel contributes roughly 4% to human-induced global warming, and those who like to travel should take this into account when planning their next trip. By flying into and out of environmentally friendly airports in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, travelers can at least experience the joy of traveling without contributing to global carbon emissions in net.

“We Are The World’s First Ecologically Friendly Airport

Featured photo: St-Barthélémy Island, Galapagos, by Nathalie Marquis on Unsplash

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Otto Gunderson

Otto graduated from the University of Virginia class of 2022 with a degree in history. He has been involved in clean energy, specifically solar and circular economic practices, for four years now and has been writing about clean energy for 2 years. Due to a lack of writing on the clean energy transitions in South America and Africa, Otto decided to spend his 2023 traveling across these continents, interviewing clean energy entrepreneurs, researchers, and disruptors and publishing their stories.

Otto Gunderson has 25 posts and counting. See all posts by Otto Gunderson