San Diego Int'l Keeps it Green During Terminal 2 Expansion Project

Jodi Richards
Published in: 

The Terminal 2 expansion at San Diego International Airport (SAN), a project known as the Green Build, was green on two fronts: environmentally and financially.

"The whole building is designed with sustainability in mind," comments Thella Bowens, president/chief executive officer of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which owns and operates the facility. "Between the monies that we're generating for the community and the environmentally-sensitive nature of the building, it couldn't be anything but green."

In August, the airport officially celebrated the completion of the largest project in its storied history. Originally estimated to cost $865 million, the long-term project is currently about $45 million under budget. "We think the facility that we have built over the last three to four years will help us accommodate growth that should sustain the airport well into the future," notes Bowens.

The Green Build adds 460,000 square feet of terminal space and includes 10 new gates, all-new


Project: Terminal 2 Expansion

Location: San Diego Int'l Airport

Program Name: Green Build

Budgeted Cost: $865 million

Estimated Cost to Date: $820 million

Terminal Architect: HNTB Corp.

Airside Engineering: HNTB Corp.

USO Building Architect: URS Corp.

Landside Roadways, Parking & Landscaping Engineering Assistant Aarchitect: Tucker Sadler Architects 

Landside Construction: Kiewit/Sundt Joint Venture

Terminal & Airside Construction:Turner Construction Co./PCL Construction Services/Flatiron Construction Corp. Joint Venture

Concessions: HMS Host; The Hudson Group

Drywall & Interior Finishes: Silva General Construction/West Pac Interiors

HVAC & Plumbing: California Comfort Systems

Trench Digging: A.M. Ortega Construction

Paging System: Audio Associates

Decorative Concrete & Terrazzo: T.B. Penick & Sons

Managing/Implementing Stormwater Compliance: The Land Stewards

Infrastructure to Replace Underground Water Lines: RBF Consulting

Sreetside Lime Stabilization: Pavement Recycling Systems

Construction of Ornamental Metals, Structural Steel Stairs, Glass Handrails, Millwork, Gate & Ticket Counters: ISEC

Steel Art Trees: NatureMaker

Pavement Evaluation: Kleinfelder

Gypsum Wallboard: Component West

Terminal Sating: Zoeftig

shopping and dining, an expanded security checkpoint, a new ticket lobby and new baggage claim area, apron improvements, additional aircraft parking, roadway improvements and a new dual-level roadway that separates incoming and departing vehicle traffic to relieve congestion.

The airport authority is financing the mega-project through bonds backed by passenger facility charges, general revenue bonds and airport authority cash, explains Bryan Enarson, SAN's vice president of development. "The airport is a major economic contributor to the region, and we wanted to make sure that what we did was going to enhance the economic contribution to the region," says Enarson.

Planning for the mega-project started long before the recession. At that time, officials were looking beyond 2030 and anticipating a "significant increase" in passenger traffic. "The good news about the recession is that it has modulated that growth to a certain extent," notes Bowen. SAN currently accommodates 17 million passengers per year.

The airport also benefitted from the recession via lower construction costs than originally anticipated and greater availability of labor. Additionally, the cost for bonding came in lower than projected - 3.92% and 4.38% instead of the 6% to 6.5% the airport estimated during planning. "That really saved us a great deal in terms of the cost - both the soft and the hard costs of building this facility," relates Bowens.

Change of Plans

Before the Green Build, SAN had used the design-bid-build delivery method for major projects. Switching to the design-build method allows the airport to get the designer, contractor and other project partners on board working collaboratively upfront, says Enarson. "We had all the major elements all involved as we designed and set up the initial program," he explains.

Design work for the new space took more than two years and involved frequent meetings with representatives from the airlines, vendors, maintenance staff and others associated with the airport. The meetings resulted in a list of about 1,500 "wants" from various stakeholders. Not all 1,500 items were accommodated in the Green Build, but the list helped the airport put together its programmatic design document and "really directed the design work," explains Enarson.

Bowens characterizes the stakeholder meetings as a "huge benefit" to the project.

Terminal Design

While the existing terminal established the architectural look for the expansion, the list of ideas provided by stakeholders helped the airport "fine tune" what to do with the new architecture and operation, Enarson recalls. Built in the 1990s, the existing facility also provided "lessons learned" regarding elements that needed to be enhanced in the new building, he adds.

HNTB Corporation was the architectural firm that helped determine when to follow the existing architecture and when to make enhancements. The front façade is one area where the new expansion matches the previous architecture "word-for-word," notes Tom Rossbach, director of aviation architecture with HNTB Corporation. "We wanted to present it all as one building," he explains.

Inside the terminal, some of the finishes in the existing building were upgraded to match the new interior space. For instance, all of the tile flooring was replaced with terrazzo to match the new space, and passenger holdrooms will receive new carpeting to match the expansion's scheme. Ceiling heights and forms of the new structure, however, were adjusted to create different spaces than the existing terminal.

Art was integrated into the architecture of the new facility, rather than added after construction, says Rossbach. "The owner didn't want applied art - just art thrown in the building at the end of the day," he explains. The architecture team helped select some of the artists and worked with them to incorporate their art into the architecture of the building.

One installation, made with light-emitting diode (LED) technology, flows down the concourse and serves as a wayfinding mechanism for passengers.

Sunset Cove, the new dining and retail area in Terminal 2 West, is adorned with two groupings of 30-foot palm trees created by NatureMaker. The six hand-sculpted pieces include steel trunks covered in hand-painted, hand-sculpted composite bark and internally preserved fronds. The collection took 18 months to design, engineer, handcraft and install, reports NatureMaker president Gary Hanick. Each tree is one-of-a-kind, not a replica, he notes. Seating around the custom trees integrates the nature-themed installation directly into the concessions area.

Rossbach considers SAN a leader in assimilating art into the architecture of a terminal.

SAN Sustainability

Any and all aspects of the Green Build were evaluated to be as sustainable as possible, says Enarson. "We didn't attack one area - we attacked it from all different sides," he explains.

Low-flow water fixtures in the bathrooms and zeroscaping outside the terminal will cut back the airport's water usage. Terminal lighting and the use of natural lighting throughout the space will reduce energy consumption, as will the addition of more efficient equipment to the airport's central plant. The use of recycled materials and SAN's aggressive recycling program further enhance the sustainability of the new space.

The project team considered every opportunity and studied every building system to make the expansion as energy efficient as possible, adds Rossbach. An efficient envelope is key to its energy conservation measures: a white roof reflects sunlight from the terminal, while a 124,000-square-foot area of solar panels will provide up to two megawatts of power annually, making it one of the largest solar arrays on the roof of a terminal building, he notes.

Other features designed to reduce energy consumption include roof overhangs that eliminate solar gain, daylighting and automatic window shading that combine to reduce the use of electric lights while also minimizing solar gain, and a baggage system with energy-efficient motors.

Sunset Cove, the new dining and retail area in Terminal 2 West, has floor-to-ceiling glass windows that span three floors to allow in plenty of natural light and provide a panoramic view of the airfield. In the parking lot, travelers will have 40 charging stations for electric vehicles at their disposal, comments Bowens.

Even the 2,200 new seats in the terminal include sustainable features. Almost all their components are 100% recyclable and they're designed for longevity, notes manufacturer Zoeftig. In addition, some of the systems are modular, so the seating can be reconfigured if SAN's requirements change. For passenger convenience, every seat has power outlets within reach.

On the administrative side, SAN works to manage the lifecycle costs of its assets - everything associated with maintaining the airport, including new projects and retrofit programs, explains Enarson. "When you build something, that's only 25 percent of the actual cost of that asset over its 30-year life," he says. "The other 75 percent is the lifecycle cost and managing that over time."

Overall, the terminal expansion is designed to meet the U.S. Green Building Council's gold certification of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. Whether the project achieved it will not be known until mid-2014.

Buy Local

Reaching out to local contractors and working to be more business-friendly over years paid off for SAN during its Green Build. Local participation is more than 80%, reports Enarson. Working with two joint ventures - Kiewit/Sundt for landside construction and Turner Construction Company/PCL Construction Services/Flatiron Construction for airside construction - helped the airport break the expansion into smaller bites. Although this made the total project more difficult to manage, it allowed smaller companies to bid on smaller projects, explains Enarson.

According to Bowens, small businesses were awarded contracts totaling approximately $117 million, while local businesses held contracts worth $415 million. Combined, the two contingents accounted for nearly 90% of Green Build's total contracts.

During the course of the project, there were more than 7,000 workers at SAN. At the height of the construction, there were roughly 1,000 workers at the airport on any given day. The employment creation doesn't stop when construction stops, emphasizes Enarson. "It continues after the facility opens, with all the different job opportunities, with the expanded work opportunities with concessions and airlines," he explains.

"This whole project is about our community," says Bowens. "It's about providing access to the world through our airport, through the best facilities possible. It's about  giving local businesses an opportunity to participate here in our concession program, and it's certainly about contributing to the economy of a community we all love and live in and work and play in ourselves."

Local is a key component to the airport's concession development program, she notes.

In early August, The Hudson Group opened Warwick's of LaJolla, a highly-regarded local bookstore, and Gaslamp Quarter News, a space that celebrates San Diego's popular Gaslamp Quarter on the outside but is essentially a Hudson News with Caffe Calabria coffee and Discover San Diego souvenir sections inside. Eventually, Hudson will operate a total of six newsstands, one bookstore and two specialty retail shops via a joint venture. Other new concepts will include a Tech on the Go electronics store, Lindbergh Field News and San Diego Bay News.

On the food/beverage side, HMSHost recently opened three new restaurants in Terminal 2 West. Tommy V's Pizzeria is a partnership with local chef and restaurateur Tomaso Maggiore. The two others are its own creations: Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar, featuring boutique beers, wines, champagne and a gourmet small plate menu, and Seaside Stack Shack, a more casual gourmet option that uses fresh, natural and local ingredients.

Between new spaces and the revamping of existing concepts, SAN increased its concession program from 55 to 87 outlets during the Green Build. The number of concession employees is expected to nearly double from 625 to about 1,200 by 2014.

No "Big Bang"

Phasing was strategic throughout the project - even when elements were ready to be premiered. Rather than having a "big bang opening," SAN chose a phased approach to make things easier for customers, explains Enarson.

The phased opening started at the beginning of this year, with the debut of the new baggage handling system, followed by the security checkpoint, six of the 10 new gates, the ticket counters and then final aspects in mid-August.

Breaking the project into manageable bites, while not as glamorous, made the project much easier to manage. "Instead of having to deal with all the problems at one time, we've been able to deal with them in pieces," says Enarson. "Every time you open something - it doesn't matter how well you plan - there's always issues you have to deal with."

The design-build delivery method provides SAN with flexibility during the phasing as well, he adds: "You're designing and changing and phasing as you go." Having all the stakeholders at the table allows everyone to look at the project and identify possible conflicts. For instance, the team originally planned to shut down the roadway to facilitate work on the pedestrian bridge every night for one week. Instead, however, a phasing program was developed that got it done in less than 24 hours. "That was only possible because we weren't stuck in a design-bid-build environment," relates Enarson. "This way, everyone is at the table as we go through the process, so we're not wasting time designing something we can't build."

Housing the design team, contractor and the airport staff together in a single facility also proved beneficial. "Yes, it was expensive - we spent $5 million collocating them - but that collocating meant everyone was together every day working together, talking to each other, working through the issues," comments Enarson.

For Rossbach, another standout feature of the project is the use of building information modeling. The software allows the architect to "fly" stakeholders through the three-dimensional space rather than having them pore over two-dimensional paper drawings, he explains. "We use it as a communications tool among the designer, the owner and the contractor."

The building information modeling also shows potential conflicts between systems and how to resolve them before construction starts. "We can get the contractor and owner to understand every aspect of that," explains Rossbach, noting that they can show them the consequences of changes in 3-D.


2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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