“For those of you that own and operate airports, you are the lifetime owner of these buildings and it is in your best interest to make sure your building is as efficient, and as low maintenance and low cost as it can be from the moment you build it to the moment that it may have to be replaced someday,” says Grace Rink, senior project manager for AECOM.
“If you follow the green building process, you will wind up with the most energy efficient, water efficient, and resource efficient building that you can build; and that will benefit you over the long term.”
O’Hare’s new ATC tower is currently pursuing LEED Silver certification, says Rink, but it already meets LEED certification requirements, making it the first LEED-certified ATC tower in the nation.
“Because the OMP manual really covers everything that LEED also covers, later in the construction phase when it was determined that this project was going to go for LEED certification, the OMP team really had everything underway,” says Rink.
According to Rink, a ‘green’ building needs a whole building approach for the design, construction, and operation of that building. A whole building approach is concerned with site selection, water conservation, energy use, air quality, and the use of resource efficient materials.
The new ATC tower is a sustainable site, says Rink, because alternative transportation for employees is encouraged, carpool parking spaces are allocated, open space around the tower is abundant, and the urban heat island effect is reduced with reflective concrete pavers and a 9,000-square foot green roof capping the tower’s base building.
“The urban heat island effect, which is created by blacktop roofs and asphalt parking lots, can actually raise the temperature of the city by 6-10 degrees on a hot day,” says Rink. “This increases the need for air conditioning which in turn works our power plants harder causing more air pollutants; and the cycle continues to repeat itself.
“Green roof tends to be an umbrella term that can refer to both reflective roofs and vegetated roofs; this building actually has both.” According to Rink, green roofs conserve energy and mitigate the heat island effect.
In terms of water efficiency, Rink says using native and drought-tolerant vegetation in the open spaces surrounding the tower provides a site that doesn’t require any additional irrigation systems, which saves water and also reduces the overall maintenance costs for the airport. The OMP also used low-flow fixtures, toilets, and faucets in the ATC tower and base building, achieving a 21 percent efficiency rating.
With regard to materials and resources, Rink says Chicago has a construction and demolition debris ordinance which requires that at least 50 percent of construction materials for a project are recycled. “That also meets one of the minimum requirements for LEED; this project was able to divert 82 percent of its materials from the landfill,” says Rink.
“Also, the types of materials used, such as concrete mixed with fly ash [a recycled concrete material], and using materials that come from the region, or from within 500 miles of the site, are sustainable initiatives that are not too hard to meet.”
The airport’s newest runway, 9L/27R, is a Group 5 Cat II/III runway designed for planes as large as a 747. The runway was commissioned on schedule and under budget last November despite a number of major projects associated with the runway construction, including creek, guard post, and water main relocations.
The Michael Baker Jr. Corporation’s program manager Bob Staiton explains that there were many challenges in building the new runway, least of which was utilizing all of the soil on site. Because the construction team’s earthwork analysis indicated an abundance of fill material, each end of the runway was raised approximately three feet to help keep the soil on site, says Staiton.
All 100 percent of the project’s excavated soil was able to be reused resulting in some 65,000 cubic yards of trench excavation used as cut and fill.
The OMP’s Jim Prosise relates that among the sustainable features of the new runway’s planning and construction, the paving contractor was required to utilize recycled asphalt from the nearby Mount Prospect Road relocation project into the paving mix for the shoulders of the runway.
The facility was built at a cost of some $3 million; sustainability was incorporated into the building’s design, construction, and operation