While it may be an environmentally friendly practice, it has yet to translate to the bottom line. “We don’t think we’re saving any money yet in terms of overall cost,” says Phil Ralston, general manager of aviation, environmental and safety with the Port of Portland. “We invest in doing pilot projects that are costing us money that we feel are worth doing. The whole intent is to drive up diverted waste from landfills and the amount of landfill waste per passenger.”
Right now, the food waste program is actually costing PDX about five dollars more per ton. They currently pay $98 per ton for the costs associated with the collection and shipping of food waste. PDX is paying $93 per ton for garbage transportation and disposal.
“With this program, there is still a gap between making us money and costing us money, but we want to be the leaders and we want to make sure this thing gets off the ground,” says Ralston. “By pulling more partners into this program of collecting food waste, the volume and the benefits of the scale will bring the cost down to what garbage will be and hopefully, at some point, cheaper.”
PDX is looking to generate greater outside interest within the Portland community to increase volumes of compost material and hopefully encourage a composting facility to relocate closer to the airport, thus eliminating additional shipping costs and harmful emissions. PDX is currently shipping the compost nearly 170 miles to Cedar Grove, WA.
The airport also recycles grease collected from fryers to be used to make biodiesel, and is looking into a deplaned waste recycling program.
Reusing Materials at Ind
As IND went through the design for its midfield terminal project, the staff made sure that it had incorporated the various aspects of the LEED checkpoint system into the design. The project emphasized the reuse and recycling of old taxiways and runways, which were reused as site fill on the project. According to Hawvermale with IND, they are looking to recycle wood and metals as well to minimize the amount of waste to landfills.
In the construction of the new terminal, the airport is using a type of glass that shades the impact from the sun to lower air conditioning costs and reduce energy consumption. They are also using environmentally friendly paints and sealants that don’t release compounds that create indoor air quality concerns.
According to Hawvermale, one of the particularly innovative ideas that was incorporated was the relocation of a stream. During the move, a number of large trees had to be cut down. The roots (also called root balls) were excavated and used to stabilize the banks of the relocated stream. “Even with something as simple as cutting down a tree, we were able to recycle those root systems into a very important part of our stream relocation project,” says Hawvermale.
There are also intangible benefits to some sustainable initiatives, says Hawvermale. She cites using as much natural light as possible in the terminal to improve employee and passenger morale. Also, by reducing the amount of chemicals produced from paints and sealants, IND can provide better indoor air quality that could translate into potentially healthier employees and less illness, thereby increasing productivity.
“Airports are like mini-cities; they make great laboratories to look at the cause and effect of new initiatives,” says DFW’s Crites. “We are validating the benefits of a lot of these new technologies that may be hard to establish elsewhere.”
As a part of the new technologies that DFW has put into action, it has converted its central utilities plant and now produces all the thermal energy for every building at the airport. DFW recently completed a capital development plan in which they removed their 22,000-ton capacity chillers and replaced them with six 33,000-ton industrial chillers. DFW now can produce 405,000 pounds of boiler capacity per hour to heat and cool six million square feet of building space.
By replacing the equipment, Crites says that DFW reduced its harmful emissions by 95 percent and reduced energy consumption to produce that heating and cooling by some 25 percent.
DFW has also installed a six million-gallon storage facility filled with glycol for temperature control. The glycol can generate the equivalent of 12,000 tons of coolant, or 51 million BTUs worth of heating.