Last week I dragged my bleary-eyed self out of an Air Asia plane in Jakarta at a ghastly hour of the morning, almost missing out on one of the latest additions to Indonesia’s list of green-coated products. As it turns out, the terminal I was in was not just any terminal, but an eco-terminal.
By many yardsticks, the newly opened Terminal 3 is a marked improvement over its predecessors at Soekarno-Hatta airport, with clear and informative signage, plenty of open space, and−get this−free water! Even the passenger drop-off area seems to be free of hassling by taxi drivers.
Curious to find out about the features which warranted the eco part of the terminal’s name, I ventured to the information desk to quiz the staff. His first explanation? The trees planted around the terminal’s parking area, reflecting a widespread perception that planting trees is the way towards environmental salvation. Tree planting is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to be seen doing the right thing for the environment−but it is debatable if it is the most effective (the subject of another post).
The staff went on to mention the waste bins with separate containers for paper and organic waste, an admirable addition to the terminal assuming that the waste IS actually sorted and recycled/composted. It was only later when I googled terminal+3+jakarta that I read about the terminal’s design, which favours passive lighting to reduce the use of lamps (and hence coal-produced electricity). And indeed, the building’s high ceiling allows sunlight to flood the gate and baggage claim areas, a welcome addition to lighten up the cold, modern design that characterizes the terminal. Awesome.
As it turns out, I found out more about the building’s green features by doing my own research rather than asking from a representative of the terminal.
Poor training? Capacity issues? Whatever the reason, here lies a lesson: if you are going to pitch a product as green (whether a terminal or a detergent), you need to be able to back up these claims with hard, verifiable data. The fact that the airport management decided to pitch Terminal 3 as green is tremendously encouraging−it means they consider this feature to be a selling point for their market. But then comes the hard part, where the proverbial tyre hits the road−communicating to staff and customers why this is a green terminal, and why this is the way to go.
Until then, the jury is out on whether this terminal is truly eco or not…