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Aerostar unveils sustainability plan to turn LMM airport ‘green’

The strategy calls for turning Puerto Rico’s primary air hub into a “green, environmentally friendly and resilient space.”

Aerostar Airport Holdings, which runs Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, presented its Sustainability Plan, highlighting 67 initiatives and projects aimed at transforming the airport into a “green, environmentally friendly, resilient, and sustainable space.”

At a news conference at the airport, Aerostar Puerto Rico President Jorge Hernández said that so far this year, 13 projects have been completed and another 12 have begun, out of a total of 33 scheduled for 2024 in the work plan.

The work plan seeks to prepare airport facilities and the community to minimize the impact of climate change and natural phenomena. Other initiatives focus on protecting natural resources, energy saving, water conservation and community engagement.

“At Aerostar, we have developed the route to resilience and sustainability at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport,” Hernández said. “We want the entrance and exit door of the island to be a green, environmentally friendly, resilient and sustainable airport and we’re moving in that direction, equipped with a comprehensive work plan that is yielding results.”

He noted that the combination of initiatives has already resulted in a reduction in the airport’s carbon emissions, documented by a 7.9% decrease in total energy consumption since 2019, despite the increase in passenger volume.

Among the initiatives to reduce energy consumption, Hernández told News is my Business that the airport has installed LED lighting, reduced abandoned spaces, and “shut off lights and air conditioning in spaces that were not being used.”

“The change in the illumination has been determinant, the change to LED lighting, in addition to reducing space and shutting off air conditioning and lights … have helped make a difference,” he emphasized.

Other projects in the plan include installing solar panels on the sixth level of the multi-story parking garage, which will cover about 6% of the airport’s annual electricity use and provide shade. 

Additionally, there are plans for an airport-wide power generator, with an estimated investment of $100 million, which will reduce “the carbon footprint by approximately 30%,” he said.

Other initiatives include improvements to gardens with low-irrigation plants, a canal drainage study considering sea level rise, promoting recycling efforts and continuing the bee management program.

Zero emissions by 2050
Among the completed initiatives are the switch to LED lighting at all Aerostar-operated facilities and a study aimed at achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The airport also achieved Level 1 of the International Council of Airports’ Airport Carbon Accreditation Program, placing it among only 19 airports in the United States with this level of certification, Hernández said.

He added that they should meet the federal government’s guideline of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“This year we’re working to reach Level 2, which could bring us into a select group of 13 other airports in the United States that have managed to prove that they have begun to reduce carbon emissions,” said the airport’s director of sustainability, Jaime Pabón-Rodríguez.

“We’re firmly on our way to positioning the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport as the leader in sustainability, resilience and innovation in the Caribbean region. To this end, the Sustainability Plan addresses six areas: resilience to climate change, water conservation, energy conservation and emissions reduction, waste recycling, conservation of natural resources, and community relations,” said Pabón-Rodríguez.

Pabón-Rodríguez added that the guidelines and practices provided by both the Sustainability Program and the Climate Action Plan for Aviation of the Federal Aviation Administration have been adopted.

Pabón-Rodríguez, who is an expert in environmental management and airport sustainability, added that the process to prepare the Airport Sustainability Plan began with a “study of base conditions and analysis of climate risks, the development of the sustainability policy and institutional goals, followed by the configuration of an implementation plan and processes and, finally, the plan was adopted.”

“All of this took about 16 months and is now being presented in its final form to the public to also fulfill the mission of educating and informing,” he added.

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.
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