Congress Approves Durbin Provision to Encourage Sustainable Airport Design

Language promotes Chicago’s leadership in setting environmental standards

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – A provision, authored by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), that would help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) create a standardized, voluntary set of best practices to help airports operate and build sustainable facilities was included in the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act which was approved today by the U.S. Senate.  The provision would establish a working group to develop these standards and help create a voluntary rating system.  The legislation was passed by the House of Representatives last week and will now go to the President for his signature.


“Airports, while huge economic generators for cities around the country, have a real environmental impact on the area around them,” said Durbin.  “The City of Chicago has been a leader among airports in taking steps to make O’Hare Airport more efficient and environmentally friendly.  This amendment will promote the sharing of ideas to find the best ways to achieve energy efficiency, air quality improvements and costs savings.”


Chicago O’Hare International Airport is currently undergoing a massive, $6.6 billion reconstruction project.  The City of Chicago has gone to great lengths to make the construction of the project as environmentally friendly as possible by creating their own Sustainable Airport Manual.  The Manual defines environmental performance criteria and develops a rating system to guide the construction of new runways and airport facilities at O’Hare.   

Other airports have chosen to follow the O’Hare model and still others have taken measures on their own to establish sustainability programs that reduce the environmental impacts of their operations.  But even with these efforts, there is still not one universally-accepted set of guidance for the design, construction and operation of sustainable airports.