Going Green With An Airport Hangar

Hangar 25 at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, isn’t your average airplane garage. This off-grid facility is powered entirely by solar–so much solar (over 400,000 kilowatt hours per year), that it uses electric vehicles to tow airplanes, and offers plug-in power to planes while they’re idling.

Besides the usual green-build goodies (such as water-conserving fixtures and landscaping, low-VOC finishes, recycled/locally-sourced materials and abundant natural daylighting), Hangar 25 features some ground-breaking applications of green ingenuity for the airplane industry. These include a diamond-polished concrete floor, which avoids the usual application (and re-application) of toxic epoxy sealants; a unique, potable water- and chemical-free fog system that both puts out flames and protects jets from chemical damage in case of fire; and seven “Big Ass Fans” which, coupled with evaporative cooling systems, eliminate the need for chemical refrigerant-based air-conditioning.

Hangar 25 1

image via Shangri La Construction

To get a handle on the parameters around this ground-breaking project, we spoke via Jennifer Berthold-Jelovic, Director of Sustainability for Shangri-La Construction, the company behind Hangar 25.

EarthTechling (ET): Your president, Andy Myers, has been quoted as saying that Hangar 25 demonstrates the financial viability of eco-friendly construction. How much did Hangar 25 cost to build, as compared to a traditionally-built airplane hangar?

Jennifer Berthold-Jelovic (JB-J): Our mission at Shangri-La Construction is to bring cost-conscious, high-quality construction to each of our clients’ projects. If a client chooses to go down the path of sustainability, we are equipped to build them a sustainable structure at a cost competitive to traditional construction. We have done it with ground-up projects like Hangar 25 and we have done it with retrofits, such as 302 Carson in Las Vegas [PDF].

Hangar 25 2

image via Shangri La Construction

ET: What was the vision for Hangar 25?

JB-L: The vision of the project was to reduce the carbon footprint associated with general aviation operations. The only way to get that done is to take the fossil fuels associated with ground operations completely out and to replace them with renewable energy, which is exactly what Hangar 25 accomplishes.

ET: When Hangar 25 was completed in 2008, it was the industry’s first LEED Platinum certified facility of this nature. Since that time, have any other hangar developments followed suit?

JB-L: Since 2008, there hasn’t been much construction at all of facilities of this nature. [But] we have since been contracted to construct an additional LEED Silver facility in Burbank and are currently working with Atlantic Aviation on a few additional opportunities that may come to pass as well.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.