Tucson, Ariz. (Sept. 27, 2012)- Parking at Tucson International Airport (TIA) is about to become both cooler and greener.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded a $5.7 million grant to Tucson Airport Authority (TAA) to fund design and construction of the first phase of a project that, when complete, will provide an approximately 18-foot-tall solar array over the entire main public parking lot in front of the terminal. In addition, vegetated "green walls" with live plants are planned in order to help create a cooling microclimate effect within the parking lot.
The Arizona Department of Transportation will also provide $280,000 to help offset TAA's federal grant matching requirement for phase one. The entire three-phase project is estimated to be complete in two to three years at a total cost of $18 million and employ 20 to 70 workers.
TAA President and CEO Bonnie Allin said the organization has been working diligently to identify potential funding sources to enable development of a large-scale solar energy photovoltaic module system, consistent with the corporate philosophy.
"TAA's commitment to enhancing and preserving natural resources is shared by many across the region, and this project is an exciting demonstration of that common vision," Allin said.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild both expressed their support for the project.
"A huge solar project such as this at the main gateway for visitors when they arrive in our community will show them that Tucson is serious about being a leader in solar development," Barber said today.
"Congratulations to the forward-thinking leadership of the Tucson Airport Authority for conceiving and carrying out this visionary venture."
The mayor also believes the array will make a statement to incoming visitors.
"Tucson is a Solar City. It's entirely appropriate that visitors flying in to Tucson see evidence of our commitment to solar even before they get off the plane. I applaud the Tucson Airport Authority for launching this solar project at the airport," Rothschild said.
Construction for phase one is scheduled to begin in spring 2013 and will cover approximately five of the main parking lot's 12 acres. The first phase will generate approximately 1 megawatt of power annually, which will feed into the airport's central utility plant and serve the terminal complex. Once complete, the entire parking area will be covered with shade-providing solar panels and total annual production will be approximately 2.5 megawatts.
The federal grant is part of a new program that provides funding for airport projects that promote energy efficiency under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Local firm Barker Morrissey Contracting was selected to design and build the array.