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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Airport officials look into 'green' options

The Wichita Eagle

With plans for a new $150 million terminal building in the works, Wichita Mid-Continent Airport officials are studying the use of miniature wind turbines.

Small turbines could generate enough electricity to light a new parking garage at the airport, according to a report by HNTB Architecture, the firm designing the terminal.

"Obviously, we have lots of wind here," said director of airports Victor White. "This is a no-brainer if we can figure out a way to do it."

The wind turbines would be similar to ones installed by Boston's Logan International Airport last year. They would be small and attached to the roof of the parking garage, White said.

The airport must first make sure the turbines don't interfere with radios and radars used by air traffic control. And it wants to ensure noise levels wouldn't be annoying to the garage users, White said.

It also will look into the use of solar panels. The concern with them is reflecting light and glare.

"We're hopeful we can do one or both or a combination, or some source of renewable energy," White said. "It's been done at other airports."

Airport designers will study those issues when they design the new four-level parking garage next year. The garage will include 1,600 spaces. One level will be dedicated to rental cars.

Other green initiatives for the new terminal are in the works.

According to HNTB, the new building will conserve energy through use of high-performance insulation systems in walls and roofs, low-solar heat-gain glazing systems, high performance HVAC systems, use of groundwater heat for snow- melt systems in the sidewalks, and lighting with controls that take advantage of daylight from skylights and large glass walls to further reduce the need for energy.

According to HNTB, utility bills for "green" buildings are 30 percent to 50 percent lower than conventional buildings.

The airport will pursue getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The new terminal building will include 12 gates and 273,000 square feet of space and is expected to open in 2013. It is subject to approval by the Wichita City Council.

The airport staff and program manager are reviewing the plans and specifications. Final reviews by the city's Office of Central Inspection and the Federal Aviation Administration will likely be completed by January.

A final financial feasibility study is expected to go before the City Council in January as well. If approved, terminal construction will be bid in early February, with a groundbreaking expected in June, White said.

Construction will take about 33 months, he said.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708.

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