The airport world marked the latest leg of its journey toward standardizing sustainability this month in Chicago. The Chicago Dept. of Aviation, which is running a $6.6-billion modernization program, has unveiled the latest version of a sustainability manual that now offers specific guidelines and scoring systems for design, construction, operations and maintenance, concessions and tenants at airports. “Say goodbye to the old manual and hello to a new sustainable airport,” says Eugene Peters, director with Ricondo & Associates Inc., a Chicago-based aviation consultant. “This applies to everything...not just what you build but how you built it.

Green Airport Prerequisites
Photo: OMP
Green Airport Prerequisites
Fuel-efficient bulldozer is working on O’Hare airport’s new south runway.
Photo: OMP
Fuel-efficient bulldozer is working on O’Hare airport’s new south runway.

“The Sustainability Airport Manual” (SAM) debuted at a the Airports Going Green conference held Aug. 5-7 in Chicago. It updates Chicago’s “Sustainable Design Manual” (SDM), which officials developed in 2003 and began actively using in 2006 to rate modernization projects. Based on lessons learned since then, the new manual expands those guidelines to include more construction activities. “In six years there have been a lot of changes and lessons learned,” says Ted Woosley, vice president with Landrum & Brown, a Chicago-based environmental planner. “Even the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program itself has changed.”

The hefty SAM includes extensive checklists for designers and contractors, a scoring system that awards any given project 1 to 5 “green airplanes” as a certificate, and mandatory forms for contractors to fill out that record compliance with green measures. Even under the SDM version, no project won more than four green airplanes. “Be the first,” Woosley exhorted conference attendees.

Rosemarie Andolino, Chicago’s aviation commissioner, had enlisted 45 public and private experts to create the first environmental rating system for large airports in the original SDM. SAM includes the input of more than 100 airport officials, designers, consultants, contractors and other agencies. More updates will come, including a chapter on best green practices for airport planning. “This is intended to be a living document,” she says.

Every firm tackling an O’Hare International Airport job has to periodically submit documents tracking its adherence to the manual’s mandated prerequisites and beyond. A sustainable review panel acts as “judge and jury,” says Peters. A LEED-certified professional is required on every design team.

“We raised the bar in almost every case,” says Peters of the new manual. New potential point-winning items include use of sustainable temporary construction materials, inclusion of a corporate sustainable policy with bid sub­missions and reusing soils after earthmoving.

Bob Staiton, project manager with ORD LLC, the design consortium and engineer-of-record for O’Hare’s new 7,500-ft-long runway that opened last November, told conference attendees, when the team first learned it had to abide by the new manual, “we thought they were kidding.” [But] “they’ve come a long way with the manual.”

Staiton said lessons learned include centralizing the materials recycling station for multiple contracts and managing inventory of stockpiled materials so different contractors can use them at the right times. “I’d like to see more use of warm-mix asphalt,” he added. “It’s a perfect application for asphalt-treated permeable base.”

The $457-million project to build the runway and a new air traffic control tower involved nine contracts. All construction materials stayed on-site, and 65,000 cu yd of excavation was reused as fill, said Jim Prosise, resident engineer for the modernization program. Concrete and asphalt plants were placed on-site, and a guard post features a 7,600-sq-ft green-roof canopy.

David Shier, the Chicago-based program manager for Walsh Construction Co., said the firm performed grading and paving on another runway extension in two contracts worth about $174 million. The contractor went above and beyond the manual’s guideline of a 500 mile radius for delivering local materials: “We stayed within 20 miles,” says Shier.

O’Hare also debuted Caterpillar Inc.’s hybrid bulldozer on an Aug. 7 airfield tour. The diesel-electric drive is expected to improve fuel efficiency by 25%. A joint venture of Walsh and T.J. Lambrecht, Joliet, Ill., recently began using the D7E model on its $80-million earthwork contract for O’Hare’s new south runway.

Conduct eco-friendly meetings
Reduce and recycle paper documents
Reduce construction dust, erosion
Minimize facility operations impacts
Reduce water use by 20%
Verify building systems’ efficiency
Set building energy efficiency baseline
Store and recycle building waste
Set indoor air quality baseline
No smoking in buildings
Fundamental refrigerant management
Construction equipment maintenance
Clean fuel construction vehicles

Recycling Matters

Airport officials from across the country and the world offered their green experiences, many of which are used as case studies in the manual’s numerous subsections. “We’ve saved $170,000 a year just from recycling,” said Elizabeth Leavitt, environmental director at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airport offers tenants and airlines free recycling and asks them to “pay to dump.” Seattle- Tacoma’s newest runway includes 100,000 cu yd of asphalt, 50,000 cu yd of concrete and 470,000 cu yd of other materials, “almost all recycled,” Leavitt said.

Intissar Durham, chief engineer with Los Angeles World Airports, said O’Hare’s manual served as a foundation for Los Angeles’ version. LAWA now requires 50% of construction waste be recycled, and it has established concrete recycling plants on-site for the 55-ft relocation of an existing runway and a new taxiway. “Otherwise, we’d have to haul the concrete [waste] to a landfill 40 miles away,” she said. “We avoided 16,000 80-mile round trips” by trucks.

The required documentation might seem cumbersome for firms, but the embedded metrics may actually help contractors prove “they were green all along,” notes Woosley. When a local joint venture of Kiewit Construction Co. and Reyes Group Ltd. embarked on a contract to relocate a massive stormwater detention basin, “we didn’t plan on being green, but the results were,” said Pierre Adam, Kiewit project manager.

In a bid to save time, the joint venture revised its sequence to overlap the construction of the new basin with the decomissioning of the old one, eliminating 105,000 truck movements as a result, he says. The work still required 2.8 million cu yd of cut and fill.

Allowing contractors flexibility may be key to going green. Stewart Dalzell, deputy director for environmental planning and permitting at the Massachusetts Port Authority, spoke of Boston-Logan Airport’s experiences in the past decade. It has the world’s first LEED-certified passenger terminal. “Back then, one of the barriers was the use of traditional design-build-build methods,” he noted.

Officials emphasized that every airport can adopt SAM principles according to its particular geographical and jurisdictional needs. But some of the guidelines include copy-and-paste lessons that can be applied from other airport experiences, notes Sam Mehta, environmental services manager for San Francisco International Airport and chair of the SAM materials and resources committee. Robert Ostendorf, a Fort Lauderdale Airport official, adds, “Plagiarism is the highest form of flattery.”