In 2011, Virgin America opened its brand new home inside Terminal 2 (T2) at San Francisco International Airport. The airline, long known for its commitment to green initiatives, set the bar once more with T2, which was awarded LEED gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. T2 is the first airport terminal of its kind in the United States to achieve this certification. T2 incorporates design elements that require up to 20 percent less energy through modern ventilation and natural lighting that reduces electricity usage. By nudging its flyers to fill reusable water bottles past security, T2 reduces the amount of throwaway bottles sold on the concourse, thereby reducing waste. T2 also invited slow food movement vendors to offer sustainable dining options such as organic food and beverages to Virgin America flyers.
In building T2, contractors recycled up to 90 percent of the construction waste and implemented a reclaimed water reuse program throughout the building.
About the author: A former Virgin America executive who played an instrumental role in organizing the airline’s business growth, David Pflieger also pushed the company to adopt green initiatives during its early days. He is currently the Managing Director and CEO of Air Pacific.
San Francisco-based airline Virgin America has received a number of accolades in its short history, including awards from Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure as the Best Domestic Airline for three years in a row. With a savvy business strategy that positioned Virgin America as one of the top carriers in the United States, the airline is also fully committed to exploring green initiatives.
In a 2010 ranking, Virgin America topped 10 other domestic carriers as the greenest airline in the United States. The criteria were based on use or development of alternative fuel options, recycling programs, green or sustainable food options, carbon offsets, and green building design.
That same year, Virgin America announced the company’s partnership with San Francisco International Airport for a new home at Terminal 2, which was awarded LEED gold-certified status. The airline leveraged sustainable design practices to achieve success at Terminal 2, which opened to rave reviews in 2011.
About the author: David Pflieger is a former executive with Virgin America and played a key role in launching the airline in 2006. Mr. Pflieger also had a hand in laying the groundwork for the company’s green initiatives.
Virgin America is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and running an environmentally sustainable business. In 2010 it was named the Most Eco-Friendly Airline by the SmarterTraveler Editors’ Choice Awards, and in the same year completed LEED certification for its Burlingame, California headquarters.
Virgin America takes a variety of steps to maintain its reputation as an environmentally friendly business. Their aircraft are 25 percent more fuel efficient than the average domestic fleet, a level maintained through consistent efforts such as advanced avionics that increase efficiency, single engine taxiing, and cost index flying, which is the practice of regulating cruising speeds in order to reduce the burning of fuel.
On the ground, the airline is an anchor tenant at San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2. The terminal was built to improve indoor air quality and to reduce energy consumption, using new methods that succeeded in reducing greenhouse emissions by more than 1,500 tons per year. In addition to its sustainable practices, the Virgin Group reinvests its profits into researching alternative and sustainable fuels.
About the author: David Pflieger was among the team leading Virgin America’s efforts to become a US airline.
Sustainability and environmental responsibility is important to Virgin America. This past Earth Day, the airline partnered with the California State Parks Foundation for the fifth year in a row to support environmental clean-up and restoration projects across the Golden State. Virgin America employees helped to plant trees and restore landscaping in their effort to preserve the parks.
The airline’s environmental efforts weren’t limited to the month of April or just their home state. Virgin America, the only airline headquartered in California, also put effort into restoration projects in Seattle, New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and many more parks across the United States. Virgin America maintains groups of Green Teams, which strive to find avenues to reduce the company’s environmental footprint, and it is volunteers from these teams and other departments who are working to clean up the nation’s parks.
About the Author:
A former Senior Vice President at Virgin America, David Pflieger led the airline’s effort to become a US airline during its certification process.