After nearly five years of construction, the $1 billion Green Build project is nearing its final approach at San Diego International Airport, with the energy-efficient expansion set for an August completion.
“It’s on time and on budget — the words we always want to hear,” said Dan McGuckin, a project director with Turner Construction Co. who is overseeing terminal improvements that are part of the largest renovation in the local airport’s history.
Newly installed baggage-handling and security systems at Terminal 2 are undergoing their final testing, and airport operators anticipate an April opening for six new passenger gates in the redesigned north concourse, with the remaining four new gates to be operating in August.
McGuckin said work is also winding down on new dining facilities in the terminal’s Sunset Cove area, as operators of new eateries begin setting up shop. Energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems have been installed throughout the terminal, with an emphasis on natural sunlight in areas like the food court.
According to Jamie Sipes, an operations manager with PCL Construction Services Inc. — which is working with Turner and Flatiron Construction Corp. on the terminal — between 300 and 400 workers remain on the terminal site as work enters the home stretch, many working late-night and early-morning shifts to avoid disrupting ongoing flight services.
Construction is nearly complete on a dual-level roadway in front of the terminal, separating arriving and departing passengers, and the facility before opening day will also sport a new ticket lobby, enhanced curbside check-in kiosk and more security lanes to boost passenger flow through the terminal.
McGuckin said New York-based Turner has overseen several eco-friendly airport projects in the U.S. over the years, and the San Diego project is aiming for a minimum of Silver certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
“The LEED movement at airports has been getting stronger over the past 15 years,” McGuckin said.
San Diego International Airport served more than 17.2 million passengers in 2012. The Green Build’s $1 billion cost — approximately $865 million for construction and the remainder in financing costs — is being funded by user fees, airport revenue bonds, airport cash and grants from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA since 2005 has invested more than $115 million in clean airport technology, as the aviation industry has aimed to reduce the environmental impacts of commercial air travel. Over the past seven years, at least 25 international airports around the nation have begun or completed multimillion-dollar renovations, in places such as New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and San Jose.
The local Green Build employed as many as 1,000 on-site construction workers at the peak of the project, and airport operators said more than $350 million in contracts have been awarded to local businesses. Several firms are wrapping up work throughout the airport property as part of the Green Build, and also beginning follow-up projects.
Over the next two years, much of the new work will be focused on the airport’s north side. The airport recently opened a new $18.2 million receiving and distribution center, which operators said will boost the airport’s efficiency by centralizing truck deliveries and cutting truck trips on Harbor Drive by 50 to 75 per day.
New Rental Car Center
Also in the works on the north side is a $39 million fixed-base operator (FBO) building, providing hangars, fueling and other services for general aviation and set for a 2014 completion. It is intended to replace an existing FBO facility to comply with revised federal regulations, and also maximize airfield space.
Streets and parking areas are being reconfigured at the north end. Katie Jones, spokeswoman for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which oversees San Diego International, said operators will soon be submitting plans for a new $285 million rental car center to the California Coastal Commission.
The rental car center, currently in design and planning phases and set for a 2015 completion, will consolidate car rental agencies serving the airport into one building. Currently, most of those companies are spread along Pacific Coast Highway and Harbor Drive, each providing its own shuttle.
San Diego will join at least 20 airports nationwide that have moved to consolidate rental car facilities over the past 15 years. Local officials said the facility will help reduce fuel usage and traffic congestion, by cutting the number of rental car shuttle buses circulating around the airport.
As part of the Green Build, work is proceeding on an expansion and renovation of the airport’s USO center, which serves armed services members and their families, as well as a parking management operations facility.
Overall space at Terminal 2 is being boosted by about 460,000 square feet. The land-side road work outside the terminal, being overseen by the contracting joint venture Kiewit/Sundt, incorporates drought resistant landscaping, and some parking spaces are being equipped for use by electric vehicles.
Behind-the-scenes facilities, such as employee changing rooms, have been equipped with more efficient lighting and ventilation systems, and workers will be driving low-emission vehicles throughout the property. Construction materials have been recycled during the building process, with eco-friendly paints and coatings used on walls and floors.
“By the time it’s all finished and blended together, you won’t be able to tell what’s the new stuff and what’s old in the terminal,” McGuckin said.