It may never be possible to completely cut the carbon footprint left behind by jet planes but one airport has proven that at least the airport itself can be a friend of the environment.
Galapagos Ecological Airport is the world’s first entirely environmentally sustainable terminal, drawing all of its energy from the sun and wind.
Even in its construction in 2012, it was as “green” as possible with 80% of the infrastructure made from materials recycled from older buildings.
Adding to its environmental credentials are mechanical shutters that open and close to regulate heat and CO2 and fresh water that comes direct from the airport’s own desalinisation plant.
Ezequiel Barrenechea, the chief executive, said: “Galapagos Ecological Airport was conceived, designed, and built in its entirety to be a green building.”
Mr Barrenechea said his company had been involved in building fifty airports around the world but that the one in the Galapagos was among the most challenging.
He explained: “The construction of a completely sustainable airport was a big challenge – not only because of the concept’s novelty, but also because of its location.
“Galapagos Ecological Airport was built on Baltra Island, a small uninhabited island of the archipelago.”
The project was conceived with the type of visitors who come to the Galapagos Islands in mind. The majority come to see the volcanic islands where Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was born, and the unique wildlife that featured so memorably in David Attenborough’s documentary series about Galapagos.
The island’s ecological airport can only be reached via the international airports of Ecuador’s capital Quito, and not directly from other countries.
Baltra – where it is located – is entirely uninhabited, and visitors catch a barge that travels to the island of Santa Cruz, where tourist facilities are available.