The 21st Century Terminal

July 12, 2005
As the Indianapolis Airport Authority designs and constructs it new Midfield Terminal, sustainability and environmental awareness are driving forces.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- With a reputation for breakneck speeds, airport officials in this racing city are thoughtfully and deliberately engaged in planning and constructing a new facility expected to pull ahead of other airports. The New Midfield Terminal at Indianapolis International Airport, for which ground will be broken in late July, will be among the first airport structures to apply for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Beyond the certification, the airport expects the sustainable practices and environmental considerations it is implementing today will benefit the airport for years to come.

Indianapolis International Airport is operated by BAA Indianapolis, under a management agreement. In addition to the airlines which serve the airport, roughly half of all operations are attributed to Federal Express, which opened its second largest hub here in 1988.

John Kish, midfield project director for the New Indianapolis Airport, says the airport needs to build the infrastructure and a terminal that is equipped to handle the needs of the next 30 years. In addition to meeting demand, "the building needs to be sustainable and respect the land from which it springs."

Long-range planning is a major factor, says Kish, in the airport's ability to move forward with this project. "In 1929 the airport was put at this site. We're benefitting from that vision today. And, 75 year's later, we're ready to execute the next step of that long-range plan."

That next step is building a new terminal building between two parallel runways on the 7,700-acre airfield.The relocation of the terminal and runways was part of the airport's 1975 master plan. More than the position of the runways and the terminal, the project involves reconfiguring roadways, with the help of the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).

When the new midfield terminal is completed in late 2008, officials will submit years' worth of documentation and files demonstrating their commitment to guidelines established by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. According to the USGBC, LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for building high-performance, sustainable buildings.

"Indianapolis will have a facility it can be proud of architectually and environmentally, a facility that can handle traffic, and if a carrier decides to intensify growth, can meet that demand," says Kish.

He is quick to add that while the airport is advantaged by the amount of land it has to grow, "current management has to be sensitive that engineers don't use all the available land. We've really compressed development right now, and I think that's the right thing to do. A bigger footprint would have been wrong." Kish says the current airport layout will allow for the airport authority to assess needs in coming years and "carefully, consistently, and reasonably" plan future growth. "It's the mission of the authority to think ahead and manage our assets."

New -- From the Ground Up

In 2002, INDOT began construction on a project to relocate a portion of I-70 at a cost of $170 million. The project moved the Interstate some 500 feet south to more closely parallel the IND southern runway and add two interchanges to the roadway.

The following year, a new air traffic control tower was constructed by FAA and is expected to be operational in 2006.

At an estimated cost of $1 billion, the airport authority negotiated the agreement to build the new terminal in 2000 with the airlines at Indianapolis; it was signed in early 2001. And, while the events of 9/11 did not change the financial aspects of the agreement for the airlines, the project was delayed by about 18 months, says Kish. "We worked hard to model the financial structure to minimize the impact on the airlines." The project is funded by $120 million in AIP funds, passenger facility charge-supported bonds, and the balance covered by airlines' rates and charges.

Achieving Leed

Greta Hawvermale, New Indianapolis Airport assistant project director, says the "airport authority has a strong commitment to making the project environmentally friendly and sustainable." Looking to meet the goal of the board, the project team of architects and designers made the decision that following LEED standards and guidelines would be the best method to meet the objectives of the airport board.

Having the new terminal LEED certified "tells the world you did comply with a very specific standard," she says. "It's a third-party assessment measuring our commitment to the environment and sustainability."

Says Richard Potosnak, VP of Aviation Capital Management, "Airports are often criticized and scrutinized for environmental insensitivity; so anything airports can do to show they're cognizant of this and that they are being good neighbors is important."

According to Arminda Hanni, RA, CCS, with Blackburn Architects, USGBC established a scale of 69 points for which a project can receive credit toward becoming LEED certified. Currently, there is not a scale designed specifically for airports. Hanni and the project team identified 51 of the 69 elements that could apply to an airport environment. In order to receive certification, the airport will have to be awarded at least 26 points. There are three levels of certification under the USGBC: certified: 26-32 points; silver: 33-38 points; gold: 39-51 points; and platinum: 52-69 points.

AeroDesign Group's Alan Tucker, AIA, says it was the goal of the airport authority to incorporate sustainable practices "whether the airport is LEED certified or not."

Key to certification is documentation. All materials that are used on the project, any materials removed from the site, and other activities the airport looks to receive LEED credit for must be clearly detailed.

For contractors that have no previous experience with LEED projects - the majority of those involved with the IND project - there is a learning curve, explains Hanni. "But it's a great opportunity for contractors and design teams to learn about LEED. Although some of the contractors were resistant to the additional paperwork at first, as the project has grown they've become used to it and some have requested to learn more about becoming accredited in LEED design and construction."

"Indiana is a little behind with LEED," says Hanni. "There are no LEED certified projects in the state."

Leed Specifics

Some 227 acres of the airport's more than 7,700 acres are being considered part of the LEED certification project, which includes the wine glass-shaped roadway leading into the terminal, the new terminal, and a site for a possible future hotel. A new air traffic control tower is not included, as the FAA project was started before LEED certification could be explored for it.

Using regional materials in the construction and local and regional plants in the landscaping are just some of the aspects of the project Hanni tracks and documents. She says use of regional materials has been "excellent." For LEED requirements, "local" is defined as within a 500-mile radius.

The project team is working with construction managers on the project to encourage construction waste management. According to Hanni, "30 percent of what's in landfills currently is construction waste."

Some 4,815 tons of asphalt and 2,433 tons of concrete from existing pavement has been rubbleized and reused as fill for the terminal project. While Hanni says there is a cost to rubbleize the pavement, there is less cost overall in reusing the material.

Materials such as adhesives, sealants, glues, concrete curing compounds, and solvents are also closely monitored to ensure they are low-emitting VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Hanni adds that in some areas they are exceeding the standards set forth by the USGBC.

Hanni says the team has also been proactive in certification of what wood is used on the project, making a concerted effort to ensure that wood is taken from Forest Stewardship Council control-managed forests.

Light pollution is another aspect being addressed with the construction. Hanni says designers are working carefully to ensure the new terminal does not release unnecessary light to the night sky, which could distract pilots. It's also an energy savings to the airport.

A new two-tiered glycol recovery system will be installed beneath the ramp, which will allow for separate collection of high- and low-concentrated stormwater runoff. According to Hawvermale, the high-concentrate runoff could then be collected for recycling, while the low-concentrate would be collected for treatment.

Inside the new terminal, recycling stations are included in the design, with one major one in the main terminal and a smaller station in each of the two concourses. Currently, the airport recycles some six tons of cardboard each day. Hanni says the new terminal will expand the products that can be recycled.

There are aspects of the project the airport is undertaking that are not part of the LEED certification process, but simply part of cost savings and environmental considerations. Hanni says the savings in jet fuel for the carriers and preconditioned air at the gates will result in less pollution. Additionally, the use of rechargeable electric tugs and other alternative fuels in airport vehicles will provide cleaner burning fuel options.

The Midfield Terminal

Estimates suggest IND will see some 5.4 million enplaned passengers in 2010 and 7.6 million in 2020. In 2004 the airport had some 3.6 million enplaned passengers. Building a new terminal will allow the airport to grow to meet future demand, not just with more square footage and gate space, but with the flexibility a new terminal can provide in regard to the various types of aircraft it will be able to handle.

Gates will be equipped to handle aircraft ranging in size from regional jets to possibly the new A380, says Potosnak. "The airlines here are operating a mix of aircraft, and this airport will be prepared for any size aircraft." International flights will be handled out of one concourse only, with customs and immigration facilities.

The new terminal, says Potosnak, will "take advantage of aircraft movement times" by being centrally located. Kish estimates that locating the terminal midfield will reduce taxi times by 23 percent and save $6 million annually on airline fuel costs.

The 1.2 million-square-foot building, designed by architecture firm Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, Inc., features two nearly identical concourses A and B, 20 gates each. The central portion of the terminal which connects both concourses will house baggage screening, baggage claim, retail, and some 96 check-in counters and 18 passenger screening checkpoints.

The technology infrastructure will be capable of accommodating common-use ticketing and check-in, says Potosnak, but the airport will have facilities dedicated to specific airlines that are not common-use.

An in-line explosives detection screening baggage system will be installed, along with trace detection for bags that require further analysis and oversized luggage. The system will also be equipped to handle future baggage screening technology advances.

The Central Attraction: Civic Plaza

Between the two concourses, Civic Plaza will allow meeters and greeters a view of the airfield, something many airports have had to restrict since 9/11.

Skylights and large light wells will allow natural light to illuminate much of the Civic Plaza, while the arched roof will protect the glass walls from the heat of the sun. Fritting (small dots) on the glass will allow light to enter the space, but restrict the heat from entering.

The Civic Plaza will also incorporate radiant heating/cooling in the floor. The system works by supplying cooling from the ground up, while allowing the warm air to gather at the top of the structure. The upfront cost of this system is less than standard flooring, says Tucker, and the airport expects to see a $12,100 savings each year in heating/cooling costs.

While there will be a focus on airside retail as well as landside, the majority of the 90,000 square feet of retail space will be located in the Civic Plaza at the new terminal. Potosnak says a goal of the airport authority is to improve the security process in the new terminal so that passengers will not be as focused on getting through security and will spend time, and dollars, in the landside retail area. Compared to the existing terminal, Potosnak says "the concession program will be more evenly distributed than what it is today."

A walkway will connect the terminal to a new five-story, 7,100-space parking structure.

As Indianapolis passenger traffic grows, the Midfield Terminal can be expanded to meet the demand. According to Hawvermale, the 2020 expansion plan calls for ten gates to be added onto the end of each concourse. Further into the future, the plan allows for a satellite concourse with an additional 40 gates and an underground people mover system.

The design and construction team says building an airport that is environmentally friendly and sustainable does not have to mean additional cost. In some instances, the upfront cost was lower than traditional materials or practices, and the long-term energy savings and sustainability of the structure will benefit the airport. "If you get down the road and have to backtrack to meet environmental regulations or other mandates, that's where it becomes expensive," says Tucker.