Chicago Airports Prepare for Solar, Alt Fuels, Composting

Chicago Airports are in the midst of major green initiatives including solar installations, green roofs, recycling and composting programs. 

FedEx just unveiled a mammoth 175,000 square foot green roof at O’Hare Airport, the 13th green roof at O’Hare and Midway airports.

At the 4th Annual Airports Going Green conference, which ends tomorrow, the Chicago Department of Aviation announced it will issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for a 60-acre solar plant and alternative fueling station for private and commercial vehicles at O’Hare International Airport. And the airports are starting composting programs in addition to their extensive recycling collection efforts.

–  The agency plans to install 60 acres of ground-mounted solar panels around O’Hare on vacant properties.

–  It is inviting developers to construct and operate a fueling station to supply multiple alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, and electric vehicle charging to commercial and private vehicles at and around O’Hare.

– O’Hare completed a pilot composting program earlier this month and restaurants are now collecting pre-consumer food waste (kitchen discards) for composting, including all of Starbuck’s coffee grounds. Midway is beginning a program, starting with 13 restaraunts.  The food collected will be composted at a Chicago operation.

The 2011 Airports Going Green conference is holding sessions on sustainable concessions; eliminating waste; green transport and inter-modal connections; sustainable use and reuse of airport facilities; and social responsibility.

They will likely discuss the impact of US airlines being required to participate in the European Union’s cap-and-trade program, starting January 1, 2012. 

Airlines could take a cue from these green iniatives – they remain severe laggards on recycling the huge amount of waste they generate.

Here’s an EPA report, "Developing and Implementing an Airport Recycling Program":

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