San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2

THE CHALLENGE: Develop all new, highly energy-saving, “green” lighting solutions in conjunction with complete architectural renovations for San Francisco International Airport, passenger Terminal 2, a 58-year-old 640,000-sq.-ft. building, previously closed to the public since the beginning of 2001. All lighting was to be new, energy conserving and had to meet rigid California Title 24 Energy Code mandates for exceptional efficiency.

THE CRITERIA: It would take pages of space to detail all of Terminal 2’s new energy-saving sustainability factors; such as plumbing fixtures 40% more efficient than standard; recycled water in toilets from the airport’s own facility; use of aggressive on-site recycling and composting; special parking areas for hybrid and electrical cars; carbon-saving re-use of certain terminal building materials; and gravity-fed through-wall cool-air “displacement ventilation” systems, to name a few.

“The front-to-back, top-to-bottom, total architectural ‘Green’ renovation of Terminal 2 by Gensler virtually mandated that all of the new energy-saving lighting throughout the terminal facility likewise be highly architectural in nature, as well as being mandated by California law to be far more energy conserving than any previous generation of lighting,” Lighting Designer Janet Nolan remarks. “To complement new building exterior and interior architectural lines, we found sophisticated, highly energy-saving lighting forms from a California-based, North American design-lighting manufacturer, which ably met our and Gensler’s requirements,” she states.

THE SOLUTION: Sleek, ceiling-mounted and fully recessed, standard length, linear luminaires (D5 | accolade5 and D3 | accolade3) were positioned in corridors, boarding areas and other general illumination areas in horizontal and linear patterns to complement architecture and add interest. Seamless rows under the enormous exterior signage displays (F3 | arabesque3), as well as under terminal transportation area pedestrian walkways (D3 | accolade3), create integrated linear lines of light. Continuous U-shaped recessed luminaires (D5 | accolade5) highlight airport entrances and through-ways inside and out. Made in the U.S.A., these rectangular units were chosen for their integration capability into new Terminal 2 architecture, as well as for their low-energy consumption.

The new lighting throughout Terminal 2 is 35% more efficient than both Title 24 Energy Code mandates, and than comparable IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) nationally recommended guidelines; both of less than one watt per square foot.  “Energy consumed is now a mere .70 watts per square foot for all interior and exterior Terminal 2 building lighting,” observes Ms. Nolan.

Further in keeping with the environmentally sound, energy-saving terminal-building and lighting designs in force at Terminal 2, all of these light fixtures are made of 60% recycled aluminum that is 100% recyclable; sprayed with high-capture low environmental-impact powder-coated finishes; meet all applicable UL, cUL and San Francisco electrical safety standards.

At the dedication of the new terminal, architect Arthur Gensler, Jr. remarked to gathered officials that the city of San Francisco “is committed to sustainability, and SFO recognized that in building the new Terminal 2. This terminal shows the world that airports- even older, remodeled ones- can be great examples of sustainable design.” 

Architect: Gensler
Lighting Designer: JS Nolan
Photographer: Mark Dell'Aquila
Awards / Certifications: LEED Gold


  • Location
    San Francisco, CA
  • Category
    Exterior Lighting

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