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USGBC's report reveals transportation industry embraces sustainability

USGBC's report reveals transportation industry embraces sustainability,ph01

The transportation industry is one of the fastest growing, and one of the largest drivers of CO2 emissions, although a new report from U.S. Green Building Council shows that buildings in this sector are incorporating LEED and other sustainability practices.

The facilities and infrastructure needed to support different modes of transportation are overlooked, while the vehicles, ships and planes often implement sustainability more quickly, according to the report. Although, the airport terminals, train stations, seaports, railway stations and control towers are beginning to adopt sustainability guidelines.

Receiving a LEED certification can be a complex process for some building types in this sector. USGBC works with project teams to make the designation attainable. For example, an airport or concourse project is very similar to a shopping mall, so the retail credit approach in LEED for thermal comfort and lighting controls is a good fit, the report stated.

“Transportation facilities often have high operating costs, water and energy usage and waste, making their impact on our daily lives and the environment immense,” Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC said in a statement. “By implementing LEED green building strategies, these high intensity buildings become efficient, cost-effective and sustainable transportation facilities that have a significant positive impact on our economy, environment, well-being and productivity. As this sector continues to grow, strengthening its green footprint is imperative to ensure a sustainable future for all.”

The transportation industry around the world accounted for 14 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Ranking at fourth only to agriculture, electricity and other industrial sectors. In the U.S., transportation accounted for 27 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in 2015.

Sustainability is catching on as a competitive driver, which in turn creates highly functional facilities and infrastructure that saves money and is better for the environment, the report stated. The report highlights LEED-certified transportation facilities around the world from Mexico to China to Ecuador.

Some highlights from the Midwest include Chicago, Illinois’ Signature Support Facility at O’Hare. The building was redeveloped using a comprehensive Sustainable Airport Manual review, which the Chicago Department of Aviation created as part of the city’s effort to implement environmentally sustainable initiatives. The project diverted 92 percent of construction waste from landfills, reduced water usage by 40 percent, reduced energy use by 25 percent and incorporated daylighting into 90 percent of the interior.

Another facility that made the list includes the aviation terminal at Appleton International Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin. The LEED Platinum facility is considered a leader in airport sustainability and features a zero VOC finishes, a roof-mounted 26kW photovoltaic system, a ground source heat pump, in-floor radiant conditioning, a rainwater collection system and will be carbon neutral by 2030. The structure was also the nation’s first terminal to achieve a net-zero energy designation, receiving a Class D Net Zero Energy Building rating.