LAX accepts $4 million grant to cut carbon emissions

An American Airlines plane waits to take off from Los Angeles International Airport.
(Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles International Airport will receive a federal grant of about $4 million next month to help reduce pollution from airplanes on the ground.

The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners voted Thursday to accept the grant, which is part of the Voluntary Airport Low Emissions, or VALE, program, created by Congress in 2004 to help airports meet air-quality requirements under the Clean Air Act.

This is the airport’s first ever VALE grant, and it will be used to partially fund the installation of nine 400 Hz electrical ground power units at overnight aircraft parking spaces on the west side of LAX. The units will be placed so that planes on the tarmac can draw from airport electricity rather than diesel ground units or on-board auxiliary power, sources which are noisy and produce more emissions.

Power is needed while planes are not in service so that cleaning personnel can run vacuum cleaners and other equipment, and crew members can turn on air conditioning to cool the cabin after a plane has been sitting in the sun, according to Nancy Castles, public relations director at Los Angeles World Airports.


Castles said that the power units look like tall lamp posts. In addition to having electrical cables, the posts provide high-energy, cost-efficient lighting and dispense water so planes can fill their tanks. They also feature fuel hydrants.

The project is priced at a total of $6.5 million, and the VALE grant will cover 75% of that cost.

Airport staff began working on the VALE grant in the spring, collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration Airports District Office, as well as the South Coast Air Quality Management District, to ensure the project qualified. Castles said the airport has not applied for the program in the past because other construction projects were not considered eligible.

A recently released sustainability report found that in 2014, LAX was responsible for a total of 88,698 metric tons of carbon emissions from ground operations.


The airport adopted a new emissions reduction policy in 2015 that will require ground equipment operators to reduce emissions by about 20% by 2021. LAX also reported recycling over 25,000 tons of materials in 2014 and committed to purchasing partially recycled paper products.

“Anything Los Angeles World Airports can do to reduce the carbon footprint of our airports is a step in the right direction,” Board of Airport Commissioners President Sean Burton said in a statement. “Being recognized with a VALE award affirms LAWA’s hard work to create a sustainable and environmentally responsible airport for generations to come.”