Virgin America Wows with Newly Released Sustainability Principles

February 07, 2011

The idea behind Virgin America is to “build a new kind of airline from the guest up,” and that includes flying in the face of conventional ideas about sustainability. Founded just four years ago in 2007, Virgin America is growing fast and keeping a focus on their environmental impact the whole way. In their recently released sustainability report, Virgin America details green measures taken as well as the principles that guide future environmental decisions.  These “Sustainability Principles” include a commitment to transparency, leadership in carbon efficiency, investment in sustainable growth (things like LEED-certified buildings and terminals) and collaboration with industry groups and partners like So what did the report find? The Virgin America fleet is 25% more fuel efficient than the U.S. average and, for their second year of operations, will continue to lead the nation in carbon efficiency with a .7% reductions in GHG emission despite the overall growth in its fleet and operations over the year. Virgin America recycles on 39% of their flights and has committed to increasing aluminum recycling to 50% by January 2011 and to 75% by 2012. In 2011, they are also pursuing Gold or higher LEED certification for the Virgin section of a new San Francisco terminal – a first for a major airport terminal in the U.S. In addition, through their partnership with Virgin offers guests the ability to offset their in-flight travel with the touch-screen entertainment platform. This is a new, innovate way to engage customers in sustainable travel while they’re actually flying. Virgin also annually offsets their corporate headquarters’ emissions. One of the projects that Virgin supports is the Truck Stop Electrification project, which reduces tailpipe emissions from some of the heaviest emitters of all: the 18-wheelers that transport our consumer goods all over the country. The project installs a small device in trucker cabins that eliminates the need to keep the engine running for power during rest stops. The technology in this device allows truckers to heat and power the interior of their truck, run the radio and check email without forcing the engine to burn diesel, saving a gallon of diesel per hour of operation. To learn more about Virgin America’s sustainable practices, click here to read their full sustainability report.