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Avjet's Hangar Puts Green Technologies to Work

There perhaps is no better example of how business aviation is meeting the challenge of environmental sustainability than Avjet Corporation's "green" Hangar 25 at Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank, CA.

Developed in conjunction with Shangri-La Construction, Hangar 25 opened in December 2008 as the world's first private aircraft hangar to achieve platinum certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

"This project was about taking the latest in energy efficient technologies and using them to build a smarter, more sustainable hangar," said Kevin Sullivan, Avjet customer service manager. "Not only can this translate into better general aviation hangars, but this [technology] can all be used for smarter schools, office buildings and more."

Avjet Corporation, founded in 1979, is a full-service, global aviation company that provides clients with aircraft sales, acquisition, charter and management services, including oversight of completions and refurbishments. Marc Foulkrod, chairman and CEO, emphasizes going "green" as part of Avjet's future.

"A lot of hangars are sheds that can house an aircraft, but there are so many ways to make them energy-efficient assets," said Andy Meyers of Shangri-La. "There are ways to not only use green technology to make your operations more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, but actually get more out of your hangars and office spaces than before."

Foulkrod and Avjet wanted the new 62,000-squarefoot hangar to earn a platinum LEED rating and be the greenest and most sustainable hangar in the world. There are four levels of LEED construction – certified, silver, gold and platinum – and the difference between the highest and lower levels comes from generating alternative energy in addition to using different levels of recycled and environmentally friendly materials.

The 1,530 solar panels on the roof of Hangar 25 generate 110 percent of the building's power. "Tugs, tows and maintenance equipment are all powered by the solar panels," said Sullivan. "Even our office equipment and vacuums are all powered by the panels on the roof, so that means we're effectively off the grid." Meyers said the return on investment in solar panels has been tremendous. The excess energy, which is sent to the Burbank power grid, powers an estimated 50 homes.

Located in sunny Burbank, CA, the solar panels were seen as a particularly effective way to generate power. "Here at the airport, we don't have any shade problems with trees, so the sun constantly powers those panels," said Sullivan. Airports in general are great locations for these panels because the skies above them are always unobstructed.

Airplanes inside the 62,000-square-foot facility are also powered by the solar panels while undergoing maintenance, which means that one Boeing 737 aircraft saves roughly 120 gallons of jet fuel every day during scheduled maintenance. Similar savings are realized by smaller aircraft, as well. Using U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency formulas, Avjet and Shangri-La estimate that such renewable energy has cut the carbon output of the operations at Hangar 25 by three million pounds a year.

"This has been a great investment, given the size of our operations," said Sullivan. "However, these are things that any company or anyone who owns an aircraft or hangar can implement to become more efficient and better environmental stewards."

Not all of the green measures deal with electric savings, as the green technology in Hangar 25 extends well beyond the solar panels and fans.

A fire-suppression system uses water vapor (basically fog, as Meyers explains) to douse any flames. The high-power sprinkler heads turn water into high-density fog that flows from the ceiling onto any fires. Meyers said that this means that Hangar 25's fire suppression system includes no chemicals found in traditional fire extinguishers.

The floor is polished with special equipment, enabling the surface to reflect enough sunlight so that no overhead lights are needed in Hangar 25 during the day.

Meyers said this also means the floor never has to be painted like other hangars. "Concrete is alive; it expands and contracts with the weather, and paint can be easily marked up or scuffed," said Sullivan. "By using a polished concrete floor, we don't have to take the aircraft out of the hangar to redo the floor, which you normally have to do every three to five years."

Inside the Avjet offices adjacent the hangar, large windows and open spaces spread the natural light over the desks and throughout the conference rooms. Hangar 25's key sustainable design features include:

  • Plumbing that reduces water use by 60 percent by utilizing low-flush, low-flow and waterless fixtures, thereby reducing the burden on the city water supply and wastewater systems.
  • Sustainable landscaping that uses drought-tolerant native plants like agave and cacti, along with artificial lawns that require no mowing or watering.
  • Large, airfoil-shaped fan blades with winglets that move more air at lower speeds than conventional fans at higher speeds. "Swamp coolers" (misting fans) and green plants on the roof combine to lower temperatures and the cost to cool the hangar.

Sullivan said Hangar 25 is an example of what can be achieved with green technology.

"We found that incorporating the recycled materials and installing the green technology didn't cost us that much more in the long run," he said. "These energysaving methods translate to any operation, and we're working with the industry to show how."