Prioritizing sustainable design and construction on our SFO AirTrain project

Skanska’s San Francisco International Airport AirTrain extension and improvements (SFO AirTrain) project was recently recognized for its sustainability efforts. Two new AirTrain stations that were constructed as part of the project were awarded LEED® Gold certifications by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In addition, the project won the 2021 Regional Best Project Award in Airport/Transit Project category by Engineering News-Record (ENR) California and the 2021 Outstanding Sustainability Infrastructure Development award from Airports Going Green, aviation industry’s leading forum on sustainability.

1 / 2 The new SFO AirTrain station at the Grand Hyatt hotel.
2 / 2 The new SFO AirTrain station at the Long-Term Parking Garage.

For this project, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) partnered with Skanska for progressive design-build services which was designed to reduce global environmental impact. The team—including SFO, WSP USA, Robin Chiang & Co, Lea+Elliott Inc, On Electric Group, Hoseley Corp., CMC, JD2 Inc and Olson Steel—worked collaboratively to employ several environmentally responsible practices. This $172 million project significantly enhances connectivity at SFO. Carried out over 40 months, it extends the existing electric people-mover system to the airport’s long-term parking garage, surface parking lots and ground transportation staging areas and adds two new Airtrain stations at the garage and at the newly constructed Grand Hyatt hotel. The result is easier access for travelers, less roadway congestion and more clean-energy transportation around the airport. As transportation to the long-term parking garages was previously provided by shuttle busses, the project is expected to eliminate 600,000 miles of trips annually, providing clean energy connection between all SFO’s terminals, parking, hotel, rental car facilities and office buildings.

Two new Airtrain stations were certified LEED Gold for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) v4 in recognition of holistic green building practices. Our project team successfully implemented several innovative and sustainable strategies aimed at achieving high performance across seven main categories: location and transportation, sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation. Our SFO AirTrain project is a prime example of how to embrace the best possible environmental, social and fiscally responsible practices to enhance quality of life. Sustainable design and construction elements were prioritized at every stage of the project, resulting in the implementation of more than 50 sustainable practices including the following:

  • Energy-efficiency: Both AirTrain stations were designed with energy-efficient lighting, HVAC and envelope systems to lower the project’s energy demand and operational carbon footprint. Our team conducted a whole building energy simulation and demonstrated that both AirTrain stations are more than 50 percent energy efficient in comparison to a baseline building performance. In addition, more than 75 percent of regularly occupied space is daylighted which reduces energy demand and operational carbon footprint.
  • Renewable energy: A large solar photovoltaic (PV) system with 2,700 panels installed on the roof of the long-term parking structure generates about 40 percent of the annual power needs for both stations. It also eliminates the need for natural gas use and reduces the operational carbon footprint of the project.
  • Water efficiency: Water-efficient fittings and fixtures installed at the new Airtrain stations reduce indoor water use by about 40 percent in comparison to baseline.
  • Waste management: Skanska implemented a stringent construction and demolition waste management plan, worked with Recycling Certification Institute (RCI) certified waste processing facilities. Our team diverted more than 75 percent of construction and demolition debris from landfills.
  • Whole life-cycle analysis: Life-cycle analysis was conducted via Tally software to assess embodied environmental impacts and guide design decisions of the project.
  • Sustainable procurement: Skanska prioritized and procured building products that transparently disclose responsible extraction criteria, chemical inventory and environmental life-cycle information via environmental product declarations (EPDs), health product declarations and other sustainability support documentation.
  • Indoor air quality: Our team implemented enhanced indoor air quality strategies during construction and conducted a comprehensive plan to ensure health and well-being of the site crew. Skanska also procured building products that have no- or low-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and are complied with rigorous LEED VOC content and emissions criteria. Moreover, indoor air quality testing was conducted at both stations prior to occupancy to demonstrate that airborne contaminants don’t exceed concentration levels required by LEED.

Implementation of green building standards is key for creating a healthy, environmentally friendly, and resource-efficient built environment for transit projects. Achieving LEED Gold certification for the new SFO AirTrain stations is a testament to these facilities’ environmental performance, especially in terms of waste reduction, wellbeing of occupants, water and energy efficiency, and a lower operational carbon footprint. At Skanska, we’re proud to support SFO’s commitment to sustainable building practices and deliver an inspiring project to our client.

“Sustainability lies at the heart of Skanska’s core values and achieving LEED Gold for the SFO AirTrain project demonstrates our commitment to employing sustainable practices on every project we undertake,” said Tony Taddeo, senior vice president of operations. “We are thrilled to have received this prestigious recognition and look forward to the many LEED-certified projects we have ahead.”

Last updated: 11/18/2021