16<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2011
19<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2012
24<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2013
32<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2014
35<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2015
44<span style="color: #186917">%</span>

CY 2016


The Good Traveler Program Offsets Over 11 Million Air Miles

The Airport Authority has remained focused on both climate mitigation and adaptation. By the end of 2016, the Airport Authority's The Good Traveler program, which provides an opportunity for passengers and others to balance the impact of their travel, successfully offset over 11 million air miles and engaged over 10 regional partners.

The program was adopted by other airports during the year, such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

To improve the resilience of San Diego International Airport (SAN) to climate change, the Airport Authority has actively pursued onsite power generation and water reuse, as demonstrated by the 5.5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installed in its parking lots and rooftops and by the approximately 100,000-gallon storm water storage and reuse system in the Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, currently under construction. These projects and other climate adaptation strategies were identified and recommended in the recently-completed Strategic Energy Plan and Water Stewardship Plan, respectively.


One of SAN's greatest vulnerabilities to sea level rise and coastal flooding is related to off-airport access roads. Therefore, the Airport Authority must remain closely engaged on the topic with the City of San Diego, the Port District, and other agencies, which is accomplished through the airport's participation and leadership in the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative and other forums.

SAN must also constantly stay informed and integrate ever-changing climate science and modeling tools into its decision-making. For example, the Airport Authority analyzed the latest Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS 3.0) for southern California in 2016 and determined that it aligned with the Water Stewardship Plan's existing sea level rise findings for the airport site.

Looking Ahead

In 2017, the Airport Authority will release a Request for Proposals for a third-party operator to administer, market, and grow The Good Traveler program. The program operator will also be tasked with providing cost-effective, quality carbon offsets to SAN and other participating airports, including opportunities for more locally-based offset projects.


Stewardship of the Vulnerable Least Tern

The Airport Authority has taken extensive measures to effectively manage wildlife at San Diego International Airport (SAN). Thirty-seven nests were documented at SAN in 2016 for the endangered California Least Tern, which lay eggs and raise chicks onsite from April to mid-September every year. This represents a 106% increase from the 18 nests reported during the 2015 season.

Over the last few seasons, the survival of the Least Tern appears to have been impacted by El Nino, as increased San Diego Bay and local ocean water temperatures led to a decline in the Least Terns' food sources.

The Airport Authority also updated its Wildlife Rescue Plan over the last year to coordinate the immediate response and rescue of injured and non-injured wildlife. The plan will help to address the increase in reported wildlife strikes in 2016. Finally, SAN's Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that prioritizes non-toxic methods to control pest populations was selected as one of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's "IPM Achievement Award" winners for 2016.


Increased aircraft operations and passenger growth will need to be accommodated within the airport's existing 661-acre footprint in a manner that doesn't impact the California Least Tern nesting habitat. As such, close collaboration between Airport Authority departments, tenants, and state and federal wildlife agencies is required to ensure continued protection of the Least Terns.

Looking Ahead

In 2017, appropriate Airport Authority staff will be trained by a wildlife rescue handling expert to serve as first responders under the new Wildlife Rescue Plan. SAN will also work with other agencies to remove an old FAA Remote Transmitting-Receiving Tower and old Coast Guard traffic signal poles that provide perch locations for Least Tern predators.


SAN Addressing Storm Water Runoff

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is tightly regulated for storm water under three different permits – the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit, Industrial General Permit, and Construction General Permit.

The Airport Authority implemented numerous trainings, inspections, sampling events, and "best management practices" (BMPs) over the last year to monitor and minimize pollutant runoff from the site. New BMPs at SAN include over 5 acres of bioswales at the new Rental Car Center, which help to address storm water quality and quantity.

These bioswales were highlighted during a tour for the California Stormwater Quality Association's annual conference in San Diego in 2016. Over 50 conference attendees participated in the tour and learned about the design, construction, and maintenance of the bioretention ponds surrounding the Rental Car Center.

The bioswales and other BMPs helped the Airport Authority reduce zinc concentrations in runoff and meet numeric goals under the Industrial General Permit. Similarly, the average exceedance frequency of storm water samples decreased in 2016 continuing a multi-year downward trend.


Storm water remains one of the San Diego International Airport's most important environmental challenges. At the airport, the primary pollutants are zinc and copper, which originate from galvanized roofing and fencing and tire and brake pad wear, respectively.

In 2016, the Airport Authority developed an Exceedance Response Action Plan to help further reduce copper and zinc pollutants. Specific actions include increasing sweeping on the runway, taxiways, and airfield service roads, implementing green infrastructure and treatment systems, and conducting runway rubber removal and power washing.

Looking Ahead

Through its new Water Stewardship Plan, the Airport Authority is focused on capturing and reusing storm water. The Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, currently under construction, will include a storm water capture and reuse system that will help SAN meet strict water quality regulations, while saving over 2 million gallons of potable water. The Airport Authority is also developing a master drainage plan for the Terminal 1 redevelopment to assess larger-scale storm water capture and reuse opportunities.


Waste and Spills

San Diego International Airport (SAN) was recognized with a "Recycler of the Year Award" by the City of San Diego and a "Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award" by the California Environmental Protection Agency in 2016.

New waste management initiatives over the last year include a pilot project expanding SAN's food waste program to include post-consumer food scraps.  During the pilot, Airport Authority staff worked with all seven wait-service restaurants in the terminals, Flagship janitorial services, and the City of San Diego to train staff and to validate that the collected food waste meets strict contamination (i.e. mixing of trash and recyclables with food waste) avoidance requirements.

Look Ahead

The Airport Authority purchased a baler for thin-film plastic, which will be installed at its Central Receiving and Distribution Center in 2017. The equipment will allow SAN to collect and recycle palette shrink wrap. Also, the airport’s solid waste disposal and recycling facility is slated for improvements in the near future, helping make the waste collection and disposal process more efficient and safe.

In 2016, SAN's total amount of diverted materials was over 37,100 tons, mostly construction and demolition debris.

The Airport Authority also installed a new Hazardous Waste Storage Unit (90-day storage facility) in 2016 that will increase safety for managing hazardous waste prior to disposal. Specifically, the facility increases the security of waste being stored and reduces risks from accidental discharge, fire, explosion, vapor/fume emissions, and other potential issues.


The Airport Authority is working toward a zero waste goal, meaning at least 90 percent of waste is diverted from the landfill. As such, an ongoing challenge is finding new diversion opportunities for waste materials at SAN. The Airport Authority is working closely with the City of San Diego and other regional partners to help identify these opportunities and the necessary processing facilities for the various waste streams.