Utility Plant Design

The new design for LAX's central utility plant includes two gas turbine generators, each of which can produce 4.4 Mw of electric power. The steam-powered plant generates 13 million BTUs/hour of heat, which is used to either heat water for heating the airport or used directly to power chillers, depending on the season.

The plant is designed for 19,560 tons of cooling and two natural-gas-fired 18-million-BTU hot-water boilers. The 15,500 ton-hours of chilled-water thermal storage will offset the peak electrical demand, typically about 1,900 Mw, for a four-hour window.

Syska Hennessy is also responsible for the thermal-energy storage system for the new terminal and concourses. The system consists of redundant, low-temperature chillers and ice storage tanks that will be charged at night to take advantage of reduced electric rates.

The tanks will reduce cycling time on the chillers if only one or two gates are in operation. The preconditioned air system will cool the aircraft and boarding bridges and must be designed to handle the A380 double-decker planes, adds Larwood.

Flatiron Construction Co. holds approximately $175 million worth of contracts to build a new, 3,785-ft-long connecting taxiway and extend an existing taxiway about 1,000 ft west, plus new aprons for Bradley West. Sandy soils prompted the airport to choose a 19-in.-thick layer of low-strength concrete as a subgrade base as opposed to the more commonly applied Type II aggregate. Consequently, apron and taxiway pavements consist of 2.5 ft of concrete.

In accordance with an airport dictate to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the new terminal will be illuminated by daylight using high-performance, low-UV glazing, while reclaimed water will be used for landscape irrigation and low-pressure toilets. The building will have enough points to receive LEED Gold certification.

The massive undertaking, begun last year, is nearing the halfway point, with construction scheduled to finish in phases between 2012 and 2013. In the LAWA offices hangs a sign with a slogan worthy of the movies: 12 12 12, which refers to Dec. 12, 2012, when part of the new terminal is set to make its grand debut.