San Diego International Airport has been named this year's Most Innovative Large Hub Airport by the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, which has managed the airport since 2003, said innovations in environmental sustainability and its Airport Innovation Lab, which it set up in the decommissioned former Commuter Terminal as a place for testing ideas for improving the airport, led to the recognition.

The agency said its environmental innovations include a system that captures water that drips onto the airfield and recycles it and its Good Traveler carbon-offset program, which allows the purchase of credits to offset air travel.

Winners were selected by the AAAE's Airport Innovation Accelerator. The award program is in its third year.

Previously Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Miami International Airport won.

For the first time the AAAE expanded the award to two categories based on airport size. It also gave a Most Innovative award to Greater Rochester International Airport in New York for being the top candidate in the small and medium-size hub airport category.

Last year 22 million passengers flew through the San Diego airport, which offers nonstop flights to 70 locations. The airport has been in operation since 1928.

Reach reporter Sarah de Crescenzo at sarahd@sdbj.com.