Project Description

The Green Build – Overcoming Low Impact Development Barriers at San Diego International Airport – AECOM

ASLA Member – Patricia Trauth, ASLA, AICP, LEED AP

In the history of the San Diego International Airport, the $1 billon Green Build project was the largest project to date. Open to the public since August 2013, the project consisted of expanding Terminal 2 to include 10 new gates, enhanced curbside check-in, dual level roadway system to separate arriving and departing passengers, and the nation’s largest airport USO Center. The San Diego County Airport Authority named the project the Green Build to showcase their commitment to the environment and sustainability as well as the positive economic impact of the project. The Green Build was the first airport terminal project in the world to receive a LEED Platinum certification.

The Low Impact Development challenges on this project in a redevelopment setting was the large expanses of impermeable surfaces. A few examples of these challenges includes right-of-way and footprint restrictions, large underground utility networks to avoid, proximity to the San Diego Bay and groundwater table, and relatively flat topography along with concerns for pedestrian safety, traffic safety, and airplane safety (bird strikes).
The incorporation of Low Impact Development (LID) solutions into the project was possible due to several factors:

• Locating potential LID solutions began early in the preliminary design process. The landscape architect was intimately involved in creating design solutions that preserve permeable green space.
• Frequent communication and discussions on LID with the design team. The owner, contractors, engineers and landscape architects collaborated together to find solutions that incorporated Low Impact Development.
• Owner’s commitment to sustainability and LID solutions.

Ultimately, the project was designed and built to drain over 50% of the project area to LID BMPs including pervious pavers, bio-retention and vegetated swales, downspout impervious area disconnection, and native & drought tolerant landscaping. The Green Build project was able to succeed in satisfying the Airport Authority’s requirements under the San Diego MS4 permit through a combination of retention practices and flow through treatment.