Galapagos Airport Goes Off the Grid

In 2014, the airport won a LEED Gold sustainability certification, an honor given out by the US Green Building Council

In 2014, the airport won a LEED Gold sustainability certification, an honor given out by the US Green Building Council. PHOTO: Mountains of Travel

The Galapagos islands are known for their giant tortoises and as the inspiration for Darwin’s theory of evolution. Now they boast another cool distinction: an airport believed to be the only one in the world working exclusively on wind and solar energy. The metamorphosis to an earth-friendly place serving nature-loving tourists could not be more stark, considering that the airport was actually born of war.

During World War II, US forces built an airfield here on Baltra, one of the 13 islands that make up the Galapagos archipelago in the Pacific, roughly 1,000 kilometers (660 miles) off Ecuador. It was an outpost meant to counter a possible Japanese advance in the Pacific war theater. Weapons were stored here. Until recently, you could even find deactivated bombs nearby.

“We’ve gone from being a place where there were military and aircraft to being an airport that is 100 percent ecological,” said Ezequiel Barrenechea, president of the Argentine corporation operating eco-friendly Seymour airport, one of three serving the Galapagos. “Here, everything works with renewable energy,” adds the airport’s manager, Jorge Rosillo.

The airport’s environmental conversion began in 2011 when the simple wooden building that was most of the terminal was taken apart, piece by piece. It had a metal control tower that looked like a giant standing in the middle of nowhere. The wood and anything else at hand deemed useful was employed to rebuild the airport with the strict mandate that it be totally self-sustaining.

It works with solar panels and three giant wind turbines. The terminal has no glass panes in its windows, leaving it open to the island’s strong winds. Holding up the building as part of its foundation are cylindrical pillars that used to be pipes for moving oil — a seeming slap at dirty energy sources. As for energy used to run the place, the only — necessary — exception to the sustainable source rule are air conditioners that cool a room housing machinery.

Read more on this commendable effort here.

One thought on “Galapagos Airport Goes Off the Grid

  1. Pingback: Airports and Urban Farming | Raxa Collective

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