Airports Going Green

Author: 
Rosemarie S. Andolino
Published in: 
September-October
2009




As commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, Rosemarie S. Andolino manages one of world's largest and busiest airport systems, encompassing O'Hare International and Midway International. Since 2003, Andolino has overseen the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP), a multi-billion dollar initiative to reduce delays and increase capacity at O'Hare. Reconfiguring the airport's intersecting runway system into a parallel system is a primary component of the OMP. Three major projects already complete: a 3,000-foot extension to O'Hare's busiest runway; construction of a new runway; and construction of a new North Air Traffic Control Tower. Construction of a new terminal on the west side of the airport is one of the components of the completion phase; the entire program is on schedule to be completed by 2014.

It has been an active and productive summer for the Chicago Department of Aviation. While moving forward with construction on the O'Hare Modernization Program (OMP), we recently released our new Sustainable Airports Manual. And along with the American Association of Airport Executives, we hosted the second "Airports Going Green" conference. This year's conference attracted nearly 300 aviation, environmental and industry professionals to Chicago. The event featured presentations from airport officials and industry experts from across the United States as well as Canada, France and Germany.

When we began planning the conference, our goal was to create an event with representation from airports worldwide. So in addition to sharing our sustainable initiatives on the OMP, we expanded the conference to capture the green initiatives taking place at other major airports. The attendees heard from speakers on a variety of topics ranging from wind turbines and terminals certified as energy efficient, to recycling and photo-voltaic or solar installations.

On the opening day of the conference, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley joined us and other contributing airport officials to publicly introduce our new Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM). It was an exciting and fitting way to unveil the manual, because the mayor's leadership has earned Chicago an international reputation for being at the forefront of green initiatives.

It's important to know the history of our sustainable efforts on the OMP to appreciate the significance of the manual. When we began construction of the OMP, we looked for ways to incorporate sustainability to meet our mayor's commitment to include green initiatives into projects across the city. We quickly realized there were no existing standards for airports; so we assembled a group of industry experts and environmentalists to create our own guidelines based on the organizational structure of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The result was the OMP Sustainable Design Manual (SDM), which we introduced in 2003. We also developed a green rating system to recognize OMP projects that incorporated more than the required sustainability components.

The SDM was distributed to all contractors who work on the OMP and has received international recognition as the definitive model for sustainable design and construction for airports.

Our new Sustainable Airport Manual expands on the original SDM by incorporating new technologies and lessons learned from six years of design and construction on the OMP. The manual will also contain additional chapters on sustainable airport planning, daily operations and maintenance, concessions and tenants. The SAM includes a guidance and measures system, as well as best practices and case studies for "Airports Going Green." It is our vision and intention that the SAM will become the global industry standard for sustainability planning, development, and everyday functions at airports around the world.

The conference also included an airfield tour of O'Hare International Airport, which allowed participants to view construction on Runway 10C-28C and witness innovative green technology at work. Representatives from the Chicago Department of Aviation, Walsh/TJ Lambrecht and Caterpillar Inc. also offered a demonstration of a new electric drive hybrid tractor.

The feedback we received about "Airports Going Green" has been very positive, and we look forward to an ongoing working relationship with all of our airport partners and industry experts as we continue work on the SAM's next chapters.

The creation of SAM has been a truly collaborative effort with contributions from nearly 200 airport executives, environmental experts and industry leaders from across the U.S. and around the world. Representatives from major airports have participated in the process, including: Paris-Charles de Gaulle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Reno-Tahoe, Portland, Oakland, Seattle-Tacoma, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit, Boston-Logan, Atlanta-Hartsfield, St. Louis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Baltimore-Washington and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. I am grateful to each and every contributor who has given and continues to give of their talents and time to the ongoing development of the SAM.

We look forward to continued involvement from our industry partners, because the SAM is intended to be a living document that will continuously evolve, improve and grow as future technologies emerge. It is only by working collaboratively, with participation from all the key industry stakeholders - from airport and airline professionals to contractors and environmentalists - that we can advance our efforts to implement progressive sustainable measures at airports. As we look to the future, I believe our industry must continue to think green to enhance the quality of life for people today and for generations to come.

Subcategory: 
Industry Insider

ACC: Rethinking Airport Resiliency in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Rethinking Airport Resiliency in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, airports and their stakeholders are managing disruption unlike any previously experienced in the modern world. With an unprecedented decrease in aircraft and passenger traffic, growing economic stress, and further uncertainty ahead, airports require resilient financial and operational planning to ride out COVID-19 and to plan for the post-pandemic future.

Survival for airports requires re-prioritizing previously identified plans, exploring new ways to operate and fund airport operations, and learning from past experiences to improve an airport’s ability to succeed in the future. This guidance provides direction for airport operators and consultants, including planners and emergency management staff, on how airports can enhance resilience to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future disruptions ahead.

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