Powered by the wind and the sun – and built mainly of reclaimed materials – the Galapagos’ Seymour Airport (GPS) has been officially certified as the world’s first “green” airport.
The Galapagos Islands are renowned for their biodiversity, so it’s fitting that the archipelago is home to the world’s first “green” airport. Powered by a mix of solar and wind energy, this airport’s infrastructure is composed of recycled materials and enhanced by an environmentally friendly design.
The Galapagos Ecological Airport, officially known as Seymour Airport (GPS), was built in December 2012 and recently awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certificate from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Constructed to blend into its surroundings, visitors will note that the building’s exterior is softened by a landscaping scheme that features native plants and shrubs. On the inside, the airport’s furniture is made of reclaimed and recycled material while mechanical shutters regulate the building’s temperature and CO2 levels. Finally, the airport also boasts its own desalination plant, which turns seawater into drinking water.
While operations are running smoothly at GPS today, according Ezequiel Barrenechea, CEO of Ecogal Corporation – the firm responsible for the initial build – construction was not without obstacles. Because of the islands’ status as a UNESCO World Heritage site, explained Barrenechea, much of the building had to be completed on the Ecuadorian mainland. Additionally, he says, it took a year to train his architects and engineers in sustainable construction techniques.
However, speaking to CNN last week, he said, “All these things were difficult, believe me, but it was a pleasure.” Set in an already astounding environment, Barrenechea believes that GPS will itself become an attraction for tourists who are, he says, “almost fanatical about ecology.”
“That kind of tourist is the first to appreciate this project because they travel to Galapagos to feel the ecological side of the world. Part of the requirement of our certification is to teach people about what we’ve built, how we’ve built it and why. People will love it,” Barrenechea explained.
But despite its recent award, GPS isn’t planning on resting on its green credentials for long. Rather, airport authorities are hoping to gain certifications for the Reduction of Carbon Footprint and Green Operation and Maintenance.
[Photo: Seymour Airport]