Back in 2020, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport began construction on the Blue Garage with hopes of more than just adding additional parking spaces.

Sam Haynes, ABIA’s acting public information & marketing manager, said a core goal in that design process was meeting Gold LEED Certification.

LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and is one of the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It’s utilized for all building types and all building phases, including new construction, interior fit outs, operations and maintenance and core and shell, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

Certification is awarded based on three different factors: points, credits and prerequisites.

Prerequisites and credits are the foundation for earning a LEED certification; these will come standard with any LEED certified building. Points is where LEED certifications are awarded. The more points earned, the higher the LEED certification:

  • Certified (40–49 points)
  • Silver (50–59 points)
  • Gold (60–79 points)
  • Platinum (80+ points)

Haynes said the airport knew its goal was to achieve Gold LEED certification, and that incorporating the solar array on top of the Blue Garage was going to be what would give them that honor.

Completed and brought online in April 2021, the solar array has been producing power ever since — and with more than 6,000 panels, it’s the size of two football fields.

The completion of the array not only awarded the building Gold LEED certification, but it also made ABIA carbon-neutral. This makes it the first medium-size airport in North America — and one of four in all of North America — to earn this distinction.