As the largest airport site in North America, Denver International Airport (DEN) encompasses 53 square miles (34,000 acres, or 137.8 square kilometers) of land. The four busiest airports in the United States – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles International, and Dallas Fort-Worth – could collectively fit into DEN’s property. With such an expansive property, we recognize the importance of minimizing our negative impacts on the environment in which we operate.
Greenhouse Gas Management
DEN will use its position as one of the largest airports in the United States to be a leader in the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the negative impacts of climate change. DEN recognizes that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to airport sustainability and has set ambitious reduction and improvement goals. These cost-effective initiatives provide the broadest benefits, including reducing electricity, natural gas and vehicle fuel costs, in addition to improving regional air quality. This program is designed to increase the transparency and reporting of the impacts of airports on greenhouse gas emissions. DEN focuses primarily on identifying and managing greenhouse gas sources under the direct control of the airport, while building partnerships that allow us to engage our business partners and community to change our future impact.
In 2017, DEN greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by more than 23 percent from the 2013 baseline, achieved through a combination of energy efficiency projects such as lighting and equipment upgrades, as well as the continued efforts to decrease the use of carbon-based electricity sources.
Water conservation, an important issue on a local and global scale, is recognized and addressed by DEN as we actively take steps to reduce water consumption across our facilities. In 2007, DEN remodeled several restrooms in the main terminal to include low-flow fixtures. We have completely retrofitted the Airport Office Building with waterless urinals and have upgraded remaining urinals across the airport to 1.0 gallon per flush. Original toilets installed in the airport with 3.5 gallons per flush have all been upgraded to 1.6 gallons per flush fixtures. Additionally, we have low-flow aerators on the hand washing sinks in the restrooms. As technology continues to improve, we continue to evaluate new fixtures that will allow us to conserve even more water at our facility in the future.
DEN is an industry leader in de-icing fluid collection and recycling. During the 2017-2018 winter season, we recollected 70 percent of all de-icing fluid applied to aircrafts, preventing it from being released into the environment. More than 558,000 gallons of collected de-icing fluid was recycled at our on-site recycling facility. In addition to protecting aquatic life in our waterways, the system also saved the airport over $1.2 million in fees for wastewater treatment.
More than 64 million passengers travel through the airport each year, generating nearly 13,000 tons of solid waste annually. Waste reduction, recycling and composting are high priorities for DEN. The airport has implemented a wide variety of programs, including recycling more than 20 different types of materials to minimize the amount of waste sent to the landfill. Efforts include:
Diverting over 1,866 tons of material in 2018 from the main terminal and all concourses
Composting in the main terminal, Airport Office Building, and Concourses A, B and C, collecting 144 tons of organic waste from concessions and public restrooms in 2018
Developing the Food Donation Program, which in 2018 collected and donated nearly 80 tons of edible food to Metro Caring, a local non-profit
Introducing liquid collection stations prior to TSA checkpoints, allowing passengers to reuse bottles after going through security
Supporting airport recycling programs for materials such as construction waste, plastic film, wood pallets, iron and metal
DEN was the first international airport in the United States to have an ISO 14001 certified Environmental Management System (EMS) to proactively identify and mitigate all potential impacts to the environment from airport operations. The EMS outlines a series of guidelines, policies, reports, procedures and processes that address the environmental impacts of day-to-day business activities.
DEN Fleet Management is responsible for maintaining nearly 1,700 vehicle and equipment assets in support of DEN’s 24/7/365 operation. In addition to owning and maintaining one of the largest and most technically advanced airport snow removal fleets in North America, we are also an environmental leader in the acquisition and maintenance of a wide variety of alternative fuel vehicles. Currently, 24% of the DEN fleet is made up of compressed natural gas, hybrid, or electric vehicles.
In 2014, DEN received a grant from the Regional Air Quality Council to install Telematics software on most fleet vehicles. This GPS tracking system for equipment allows us to observe idling time, speed, location, driving habits and driver ID. This system will further the development of preventative maintenance programs, the reduction of idling times and overall optimization of fleet utilization. Thanks to these programs, DEN can save money, reduce fuel use, reduce emissions and improve safety across airport operations.