Airport gets national recognition for energy savings

Maria Vargas, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, joins King County Department of Transportation Director Harold Taniguchi and King County International Airport/Boeing Field Director Randall Berg to celebrate the Airport's recent efforts to improve energy efficiency in the Main Terminal building.

The Airport’s Main Terminal is our iconic centerpiece, one that has played a vital role in the history of Northwest aviation.

Today – nearly 90 years after its completion – our terminal also serves as a model for what local governments can do with their aging buildings to reduce energy use.

This week, King County International Airport/Boeing Field celebrated its recent improvements at the historic building to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption as part of a special recognition by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Maria Vargas, Director of DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge initiative, visited the Airport and commended our efforts, as well as King County’s commitment to energy efficiency. The Airport proved that, even in older buildings, cost-effective deep energy savings are possible with new technology.

The investments we made resulted in an energy savings of more than 60 percent over the previous year!

“In an older building, that is a dramatic improvement,” Vargas said, “and one that I want not only local governments in this country paying attention to, but private ones as well. The opportunity is just huge.”

Maria Vargas, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, discusses efforts by King County International Airport/Boeing Field to improve energy efficiency.

What we did

In 2016, the Airport became one of the 345 organizations nationwide who stepped up to DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge –an initiative that supports leadership in energy innovation in our nation’s homes, commercial and public buildings and industrial plants.

For the Airport, we took several immediate steps to meet the challenge:

  • Eliminate the use of natural gas for building heat
  • Install a state-of-art heating and cooling system to replace the building’s aging and energy-intensive unit
  • Install LED lights throughout the building interior and exterior

The work involved adding advanced lighting controls, upgrading our mechanical and lighting systems and installing new, energy efficient lights. We also installed a large overhead fan in the terminal lobby that reduces the load on the HVAC system.

Our work in the Main Terminal building is now featured in the Better Buildings Showcase.

Airport Director Randall Berg spoke about how remarkable the transition is for our terminal.

“Since the 1930’s, this building’s energy came from fossil fuels. First, from coal-fired power, then oil and then, most recently, natural gas. Now, today, we mark the transition from fossil fuel power to clean electricity provided by Seattle City Light, a significant step forward to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our region.”

Milton Huertas, who oversaw much of the upgrades at the Airport to improve energy efficiency, discusses the Terminal Building's large fan that reduces the load on the building's HVAC system. On the right is Maria Vargas, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge.

A model for local government

The Airport’s terminal can be a model for other local governments who want to reduce energy in their facilities.

Harold Taniguchi, King County Department of Transportation Director, said the Airport’s deep energy retrofit advances Executive Dow Constantine’s Strategic Climate Action Plan by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leverages Seattle City Light’s clean electricity.

He added that the improvements required support from several partners:

  • Washington Department of Commerce
  • Seattle City Light
  • Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Ecotope
  • Willdan/Abacus
  • Emerald Aire
  • Ventacity

“This project is a perfect example of how King County is confronting climate change,” Taniguchi said. “We’ve proven that we can achieve deep energy savings in an historic building, and we hope that this provides an example for others across King County and Washington to strive to achieve similar energy savings.”

Harold Taniguchi, Director of King County Department of Transportation, discusses with media King County International Airport/Boeing Field's recent efforts to improve energy efficiency in its Main Terminal building.

To learn more about the Airport’s Deep Retrofit, click here.

Click here to read DOE’s blog post about the recognition.