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Council Praises Airport’s New "Green" Designs

The Santa Barbara City Council raves about the “green” designs of the proposed new terminal.

Given the enormous amount of fossil-fuel emissions spewed by jet airplanes, the notion of an environmentally friendly airport may seem like an oxymoron to some.

But the Santa Barbara City Council is convinced that the Santa Barbara Airport’s plans for a new terminal are about as close to environmentally friendly as an airport can get.

The council on Tuesday raved about the proposed project’s “green” designs, which will, among other things, generate electricity by installing solar-panel canopies above the cars in the parking lot.

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Brian Barnwell
You are a model department,” Councilman Brian Barnwell told a group of airport staff members that included Airport Director Karen Ramsdell.

The airport also plans to produce a study that will seek ways to, by the year 2015, reduce carbon emissions to the levels recorded in 1990.

Ramsdell said the point of the meeting on Tuesday was to give the council an update on the proposal’s progress. The project, which has already been approved by the Planning Commission and Historic Landmarks Commission, will go before the Architectural Board of Review in January.

If all continues to fly smoothly, construction will begin in the fall of 2008. The entire $63 million project is slated for completion by 2011.

Through the years, the current terminal has become crowded, due to a steady rise in passengers, as well as a pronounced increase in security equipment as mandated by the Department of Homeland Security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

According to the current proposal, the new 60,000-square-foot terminal will triple the size of the current one, while at the same time preserving the historic, cylindrical façade, which was built in 1942. The proposed new terminal will be located directly to the south of the current one, which will remain in use throughout the duration of the construction.

To maintain what officials refer to as the "Santa Barbara experience," the 7,000-square-foot historic portion of the 20,000-square-foot current terminal will eventually be moved to the premises of the new terminal.

Eighty percent of the project, designed by HNTB and local architect Fred Sweeney, will be bankrolled from outside sources such as the Federal Aviation Administration; the rest of the cost will be borne by the airport.

Ramsdell said the plans have all been made with an eye toward green development.

The airport has registered with a national agency promoting sustainable development called the Leadership, Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), she said. The agency bestows awards for projects that adopt a certain amount of measures for environmentally friendly development.

Ramsdell said the goal of the airport is to attain the “LEED points” necessary for obtaining a silver medal from the agency — which she said would be a first for any airport in the nation.

In addition to praising the airport’s desire to be environmentally friendly, council members on Tuesday gushed about other aspects of the project.

“You’re just staying on the timeline, which is wonderful,” said Council member Helene Schneider.

“It’s hard to imagine — we have this big project, and everyone’s OK with it,” said Council member Roger Horton.

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