Slated for completion in spring 2011, the $383 million, 640,000-square foot T2 will serve as Virgin America's home base and will be the first...

San Francisco International Airport’s management, Virgin America and the architecture and interior firm Gensler have unveiled the sustainable design of SFO’s new Terminal 2 (T2).

Slated for completion in spring 2011, the $383 million, 640,000-square foot T2 will serve as Virgin America’s home base and will be the first LEED Gold-certified airport terminal in the U.S.


Virgin America says that, with its investment in the space, it is anticipated that the airline’s T2 spaces will ultimately achieve LEED Platinum-certified status, the highest-possible sustainable-design rating in the U.S. Green Building Council’s internationally recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certiofication system.

Virgin America will occupy seven of 14 gates in T2.  The airline’s rapid growth helped make SFO one of the nation’s few growing airports from 2007 onwards.  Today, the carrier continues to fuel significant expansion, with its fleet projected to grow by two-thirds by the end of 2011 and to triple in size by 2016.

“As a new carrier and as the only California-based airline, we’ve had an opportunity to build sustainable practices into our operations from day one.  We’ve also utilized the latest in design to enhance the traveler experience – and we hope, elevate the journey beyond just getting from Point A to Point B,” says David Cush, CEO and president of Virgin America.

“As we grow, we’re proud to partner with SFO and the City to create a new home that embodies these same principles – and in a very real sense the innovative, environmentally-focused spirit of the Bay Area<” adds Cush.  “T2 will not only elevate the travel experience, it will serve as a model for sustainable airport design around the world.”

This is an artist's rendering of Virgin America's new check-in counter at Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport, the first LEED Gold airport terminal in the United States. The new terminal is set to open in spring 2011

T2’s sustainable green-build and green-design features include:

● Some of T2’s sustainable-design elements include the vast utilization of natural light, modern ventilation systems that require 20 per cent less energy and a reclaimed water reuse program;

● ‘Hydration Stations’ will allow flyers to fill reusable water bottles once past security, reducing the volume of waste created by single-use water bottles;

● Local food:  T2 will have the first airport dining program in the country to recruit Slow Food vendors. It will feature organic food vendors, offering wholesome food grown locally and prepared in a healthful manner;

● Completing a Multi-Modal Hub:  T2 will connect to the Bay Area Regional Transportation System (BART), so that employees and travelers alike can easily travel from airport to city on mass transit;

● Abundant natural light:  Skylights and clerestories bring daylight into the ticketing lobby and retail areas, providing a healthier work environment, while significantly reducing electricity usage in the day;

● Contractors recycled 90 per cent of construction and demolition debris from the T2 project.  SFO requires ongoing source separation of all recyclable solid waste to enable the attainment of 75 percent recycling by 2010 and 90 percent recycling by 2020; and

● Preferential parking for hybrid cars.

“The new T2 demonstrates that sustainability is achievable on many levels – from reusing construction debris to rethinking water usage to public education,” says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.  “Renovating SFO’s T2 toward LEED Gold brought all of this together. It is an incredible achievement, and we are proud, once again, to be taking the lead on sustainable innovation.”

Uniquely “Virgin” features in the airline’s T2 space will be:

● “Mood-lit” LED ticket counters that mirror the airline’s distinctive cabin moodlighting, which transitions based on outside light;

● Gates designed with beautiful “living room” like spaces;

● Upscale “Slow Food” concessions with a focus on locally-produced menus;

● Common spaces that allow travelers to shop, relax, work, eat and play within visual sight of their gate;

● In line with the airline’s cabin music, moodlighting, seating and design, T2’s Recomposure Zone will create a stress-reducing oasis for travelers and feature a hanging art installation entitled “Air Ocean” by Janet Echelman;

● Laptop plug-in stations, elevated work counters and free wireless throughout; and

● A baggage-claim area with illuminated soffits inspired by San Francisco’s distinctive cloud patterns.  The area is described by designers as a hybrid piece of “kinetic art,” exposing how the device delivers bags to travelers, while also efficiently distributing conditioned air.