California charter firm runs new hangar on solar power

 - June 4, 2009, 7:55 AM

Avjet’s new solar-powered hangar at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif., represents not only the most current environmentally friendly building design but also illustrates that going green doesn’t necessarily cost more. Shangri-La Construction built Avjet’s new hangar for roughly the same cost as a conventional facility, and that doesn’t take into account any solar-power incentives or the long-term benefit of selling excess electricity back to the local power company.

Avjet is leasing the new Hangar 25 from Shangri-La, which spent about $17 million to build the facility and holds the lease on the airport property. Hangar 25 can accommodate two Boeing 757s alongside some regular business jets, and Avjet plans to use the building to house charter/management customer aircraft and for customer offices. Avjet’s headquarters remains in another building on the airport.

Hangar 25 is the first aircraft hangar to be certified at the Platinum level by the U.S. Green Building Council, under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system.

A key feature that makes Hangar 25 green is the 1,530-panel 225-kilowatt Kyocera solar array on the roof, which supplies 110 percent of the building’s power needs. This includes power to recharge ground power systems that can run an airplane’s air conditioner before engine start, eliminating wasted jet fuel and excessive noise. All ground vehicles are electric and are recharged using the hangar power system.
An inverter system manages the 400,000 kWh of electricity produced by the solar panels and distributes the excess to the local electrical grid.

People entering Hangar 25 from the street step over walk-off grates that pull contaminants off their shoes. According to Shangri-La, “50 to 80 percent of indoor contaminants are tracked in on people’s feet.” The hygienic and environmental focus extends to the restrooms, which include low-flow toilets and waterless urinals and efficient Dyson Airblade hand dryers, which dry hands using less electricity than typical hand dryers.

The hangar’s concrete floor reflects an abundance of light thanks to diamond polishing that also eliminates the need for painting and the typical five-year repainting with epoxy. Any blemishes on the concrete floor can easily be polished out. Hi-fog fire extinguishing can put out a fire before it spreads without using damaging foam, and the system is split into zones that automatically trigger when needed. Twenty-four-foot Big Ass Powerfoil Plus Fans help keep hangar air cool in the summer and dislodge warm air from the ceiling in the winter.

Shangri-La plans to offer its green hangar technology to both existing airport facilities and new builders. Existing hangars would be ideal candidates and could easily be retrofitted with solar panels, according to the company.