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Sustainability Transportation Hero Mobile

The Sustainable Way: Airports, Rental Cars Meeting the Challenge

By Jack Chang | 3 min

As power plants and food chains become cleaner and greener across California, the state’s vehicle fleet has faced a tougher time weaning itself from fossil fuels and carbon. Despite the uptake of electric vehicles, transportation sources still made up 40 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 – the biggest source of emissions by category.

The state has tackled this challenge by committing to all zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035 and incentivizing alternative sources of transportation fuels such as hydrogen and biogas, among other actions.

Airports, rental car companies and other travel-related transportation industries have boosted that effort by pushing operational sustainability on multiple fronts.

Los Angeles International Airport, San Francisco International Airport and Sacramento International Airport have taken parallel paths to cutting emissions from their terminals, power plants, service vehicles and parking lots.

  • Sacramento’s airport has built 7.9 megawatts worth of solar panels across 35 acres of parking lots and vacant land, generating 35 percent of the electricity used by the airport.
  • LAX’s sustainability plan also tackles energy use and efficiency while addressing water and noise management as well as the protection of endangered birds and reptiles that live near the airport.
  • SFO aims to become net-zero carbon by 2030 and convert its central power plant completely to electric generation. It has already installed 2,500 new EV charging stations and converted six buildings to all-electric energy, which cuts down on the use of fossil natural gas.
  • The Charles M. Schultz – Sonoma County Airport is helping travelers offset the carbon emitted by flights using the airport by offering passengers participation in the nationwide “Good Traveler“ program helping passengers purchase carbon offset credits.

Already, Google Flight has launched a widely touted feature that shows users the carbon emissions of specific flights when they purchase tickets. The airlines themselves are cutting flight emissions through newer, lighter aircraft and experimenting with more sustainable fuels. 

The sustainability push is happening on the ground as well as major companies such as Hertz and Avis are investing in electric vehicles. Hertz made headlines in late-2021 by announcing its planned purchase of 100,000 Tesla vehicles and has launched a media campaign featuring NFL legend Tom Brady publicizing its EV initiative. Avis followed with its own commitment and offers customers hybrid and electric vehicles as well as carbon offsets. California motor coach companies such as Pure Luxury in Petaluma also are adopting a greener business approach.


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