Last week there were pictures posted on Facebook of the new look of our Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 with all those shimmery paneling and lights that made the place look wide and bright. I wonder if airport planners and management took into consideration the total environment, as in clean, healthy and safe surroundings and air. Sometimes it is suffocating to be at the airport waiting for your flight especially if it is a long wait. Also, how about the maintenance cost and utility costs? Are LED lights really safe for our well-being?
One year ago today, I traveled to Greece and waiting at the airport there was relaxing. I found this brochure at the international airport called Green Care, 2nd issue. It showed graphs and data on how the airport management successfully handled solid non-hazardous waste and recyclables and how they reduced the airport’s carbon footprint. What was impressive here was that they had these programs for caring for the environment in and around the airport.
The other achievements reported were:
Powered by the Sun
* Construction and operation of 8.05 MW Photovoltaic Park since 2011.
* Production of >11,000,000 kWh of clean electricity every year (>10% of airport electricity needs)
* Equivalent of planting 1.5 million trees every year
* Permanent exhibition of archeological findings discovered during airport construction
* More than 200,000 visitors per year
* Airport’s exhibition area available to environmental organizations for the promotion of their work
I noticed our own airports only feature commercial stalls for different products. In airports in the provinces, there are native delicacies for sale. Nothing much to inform about our culture especially our visitors.
Monitoring water quality
* Regular monitoring of ground and surface water
* Initiations to save water as well as measures to avoid contamination
Monitoring aircraft noise around the airport.
* Noise Monitoring System with stations in residential areas for continuous monitoring of noise levels
* Connection with radar to pair measured noise levels with aircraft flights.
* Noise Abatement Procedure to reduce annoyance during afternoon and night hours
* “We listen” telephone lin and website form for complaints
Last Saturday my good friend Liza Hizon and I brought our Malaysian friend MIaw Tiang to Liliw, Laguna. (She marveled at the footwear made in Liliw and brought shoes for herself and her entire family. She could have bought more, but here luggage was already full). Along SLEX, we talked about the noise pollution here and how in other countries there are noise barriers along the highways to and from the airport. In Berkeley, California, the family of Aunt Nena and Uncle Jose Jacob are protected from the noise of the freeway with noise barriers erected by the city government. While here in the Philippines, “magdusa ka!” I wonder how those who live in villages around NAIA cope with the noise pollution with constant and regular take offs and landings of aircraft.
* Provision of environmental training to all members of Airport Community
* Regular site inspections and environmental audits of Third Parties
* Requirement for all major Third Parties to obtain certification according to ISO14001 and/or EMAS Regulation
* One of very few airports worldwide operating its own Sewage Treatment Plant
* Treats all sewage generated on airport site
* Treated effluent used to irrigate airport’s non-public green areas
Monitoring air quality
* One of best-equipped airports in the world with respect to air quality meteorological monitoring
* Air Quality Monitoring Network with mobile and permanent monitoring stations installed in municipalities around airport monitoring air quality on a continuous basis
Preserving biodiversity and the cultural heritage of Greece
* Adoption of the Vravrona Wetland in 2008, a Coastal Conservation included in the Natura 2000 network, with the aim of protecting and promoting this site of unique ecological and cultural value
* Progamme carried out in collaboration with Municipality of Markopoulo and Hellenic Ornithological Society
* reation of a safe haven for birds, drawing them away from the airport and therefore also improving aviation safety
* Implementation of very popular environmental educational programme for students of all levels and organizations
Promoting recycling in the airport community
* Recycling Center with appropriate containers for all types of recyclable wastes (paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, etc.) as well as light bulbs, e-waste, batteries, etc. for all airport employees.
Creating green areas
* Construction of 6 large parks, covering a total area of 84,000 sqm. Handed over to local Municipalities as well as several other planting initiatives both inside and outside airport fence.
Two big conglomerates are proposing to build new airports at Sangley Point, Cavite and in Bulacan while renovations are ongoing in many domestic airports around the country, as I write. I hope that for these two conglomerates to take the environment as a major consideration in their plans, not just profits, making every inch of the real estate earn them money. Let us include our cultural and heritage values, too, lest these airports become simply concrete, steel and glass jungles.