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San Diego Airport Achieves Highest Rating by Airport Carbon Accreditation Program

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San Diego International Airport (SAN) has achieved the highest level of certification under the Airports Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) program – Level 4+ ‘Transition.’  


The airport achieved this certification through a series of programs that have increased the use of carbon-free electricity and all-electric vehicles, facilitated carbon-emission reductions by airline and rideshare partners, and enabled carbon-offset purchases by our passengers, among other efforts. 


Airport Carbon Accreditation is the only institutionally endorsed, global carbon management certification program for airports. It provides a common framework for active carbon management with measurable goalposts and then independently assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce carbon emissions through six levels of certification. Airport Carbon Accreditation is also the only global, airport-specific carbon standard that relies on internationally recognized methodologies.  


SAN is one of only three North American airports to achieve Level 4+ ‘Transition’ certification and the only airport in California to reach the milestone. To achieve Level 4+, SAN has demonstrated that it continues to reduce carbon emissions under its direct control (i.e. emissions from building energy use and fleet vehicles), is on a trajectory to meet international Net Zero emission targets through implementation of its carbon management plan, has offset its remaining direct carbon emissions, and has effectively partnered with tenants responsible for Scope 3 emissions at the airport. 


“Since achieving Level 3+ ‘Carbon Neutrality’ in 2018, our team has been working with our airline partners, ground transportation providers, and passengers to reduce their emissions which is a key component of achieving Level 4+ accreditation,” said Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President and CEO. “It’s through collaboration that this goal was met and I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the Airport Authority team and the aviation partners that are committing to new ways of reducing emissions.” 


Some of the notable projects and initiatives SAN has successfully implemented that contributed to achieving Level 4+ include:  


  • The Airport Authority was one of the first organizations to enroll in San Diego Community Power’s “Power100 Champions” program and now receives 100 percent renewable and carbon-free grid-delivered electricity to the entire SAN airport campus.  
  • Transportation Network Companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) conducting ridesharing services at SAN must meet an average fleetwide Greenhouse Gas Rating equivalent to the fuel efficiency of at least 52 miles per gallon by 2025. 
  • In 2015, the Airport Authority developed and launched The Good Traveler, a carbon offsetting program designed to encourage sustainable travel by enabling individuals to offset the environmental impact of their journey in an affordable, easy, and meaningful way.  
  • Through its stormwater capture and reuse system at Terminal 2 Parking Plaza, SAN has captured, treated, and reused more than four million gallons since the system was commissioned in 2018. In 2020, the Northside Stormwater Capture Cistern was completed and is designed to reuse approximately 16 million gallons annually with plans to use the captured water to wash cars at the Rental Car Center.   
  • The Airport Authority has developed one of the largest zero-emission shuttle fleets in the region, with a total of 33 all-electric buses. These cleaner and quieter buses transport passengers between terminals, employees to remote parking lots, and transit riders between the Old Town Transit Center and the airport.  
  • SAN has partnered with airports, airlines, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) producers, and other stakeholders to advocate for policies that would increase the use of low-carbon SAF to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector.  
  • The Airport Authority is working with our aviation partners to convert ground support equipment (GSE) to use lower-carbon alternative fuels. Airlines are expected to transition approximately 80 percent of their GSE to electric and renewable diesel by 2024.  


To learn about other environmental goals and initiatives being done at the airport as well as how the Airport Authority is leading efforts in environmental, social, and economic stewardship, please visit sustain.san.org which is the Airport Authority’s Sustainability Report. 


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