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Harvey Milk Terminal 1 becomes first airport terminal to achieve LEED v4 Platinum Certification


Harvey Milk Terminal 1 becomes first airport terminal to achieve LEED v4 Platinum Certification

Airport’s newest terminal uses 60% less energy than comparable facilities

By Malcolm Crumbley, Associate Editor | March 3, 2022
Harvey Milk Terminal 1
The SFO became the first airport terminal to receive LEED platinum certification.

The San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced that Harvey Milk Terminal 1 has become the first airport terminal in the world to earn Platinum certification using the latest standards from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

The LEED v4 raises the bar for the design, construction, and high-performance structures. SFO earned this certification for Boarding Area B in Harvey Milk Terminal 1. This includes the 25-gate concourse, concession space, and connector to the U.S. Customs Federal Inspection Area.

SFO design
SFO's Harvey Milk Terminal puts an emphasis on design standards.



  • A tote-based Independent Carrier System (ICS) to manage checked baggage, the first in the U.S., which uses 50% less energy and is easier to operate and maintain than previous systems
  • Self-energizing (regenerative) elevators recycle energy, rather than wasting it as heat
  • Go-Slow escalators and moving walkways that reduce speed when not in use to save energy
  • Radiant heating and cooling to complement displacement ventilation to provide energy efficiency, improved indoor air quality and enhanced passenger comfort
  • Dynamic glazed windows that change with the sun’s location, to reduce glare and improve comfort
  • Large windows harnessing daylight to reduce the need for electric lighting
  • Controllable, dimmable, long-life light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures throughout the facility
  • Low-flow, hands-free bathroom fixtures and faucets save water in our drought-prone state
  • Roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, providing renewable power for the facility
  • Highly efficient outdoor air filtration system to remove pollutants and odor to provide healthier indoor environments with minimal efficiency impacts
  • Building materials and furnishings with low-volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions
  • Selection of products, systems and materials with the least environmental or planetary impact based upon Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDS)
  • Integrated Building Management System measures energy and water use and adjusts equipment to be more efficient
  • Seamless access to all facilities, including public transit, via the AirTrain electric people mover, which eliminated over 600,000 miles of bus trips annually
  • Recycling and diversion of approximately 95% of construction waste from landfill


SFO features
The new and improved features put SFO in its own class.

“We are truly proud to be the first airport in the world to earn LEED v4 Platinum certification,” said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero in the release. “This achievement continues a tradition of leadership in sustainable facilities that includes the first LEED Gold airport terminal in the United States, and the world’s first zero net energy facility at an airport. My thanks go out to the entire project team for continuing to push the envelope for what airports can accomplish to support our environmental goals.”


A collaboration between HKS, Arup, Woods Bagot, ED2 International, Austin Commercial, Webcor, and Kendall Young Associates, the design takes advantage of every innovation available, beginning with repurposing the existing Boarding Area B to achieve the new 225,000-sf building.

Materials and systems were selected based on having the least environmental impact, such as carbon-sequestering concrete and nontoxic carpet tiles and finishes.

Other features include a sophisticated baggage carousel and photovoltaic panels on the roof, which generate the energy required for operations.

The project management team includes:

  • BAB Design-builder:  Austin Commercial & Webcor Builders Joint Venture with HKS / Woods Bagot / ED2 International / Kendall Young Associates
  • BAB Sustainability Coordinator: Arup
  • BAB Construction Manager: WSP / AGS

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