DFW Airport: A city of it’s own.

After spending some time hearing about airport sustainability from Rusty Hodapp, Vice President & Sustainability Officer of the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, it isn’t difficult to see that DFW International serves as an example not only to other airports, but to businesses and cities as well. With over six thousand acres of land, DFW is Texas’ largest and the nation’s second largest airport; it is also the second lowest in costs which allow it to handle more flight operations than any other airport. DFW airport, located in four cities: Irving, Coppell, Grapevine, and Euless,  is owned by Dallas and Fort Worth and is a public entity; therefore DFW cannot retain a profit and must keep a balanced budget, but the board of directors has decided to run the airport as a business, providing top quality services to bring in the most revenue. These revenues have allowed for the airport to renew and improve operations by incorporating sustainable practices.

By taking a life-cycle analysis, airport operations have found longer lasting retrofits and repairs to apply to various terminals. DFW has also found ways to engage their workers by creating employee assistance and safety programs, leadership development and collaborative teams to further encourage commitment to sustainable practices. Through these new benefits and initiatives employee sick days have decreased, productivity has increased and workers have completed more than 5,000 educational sessions.

The most notable changes to take place at DFW are the energy savings provided by green energy use, which the airport holds the highest rank for.  30% of DFW’s electricity comes from wind power or close to 87 Million Kilowatt Hours a year. That’s enough electricity to power 8,000 homes equivalent to taking over 2500 cars off the road for a year. Continuous energy commissioning has also been implemented at DFW. This process optimizes energy use based on actual building conditions and requirements, routinely achieving 10 – 25% whole building energy cost reductions. Thermal energy has also made an appearance at DFW as part of a larger energy plant upgrade project coordinated with the construction of Terminal D. This project runs electric chillers at night when electric transportation rates are cheaper and when the power generation fleet is most efficient. They use stored chilled water during peak hours of the day when rates are highest and less efficient peaking plants are required, this provides the ability to shift up to 18 MW off-peak use times. Along with a LEED designed fire station, DFW also received a grant to create solar photo-voltaic array with 693 panels to provide 20% of the ADE building’s electricity needs. Among these initiatives, the airport has incorporated water conservation and reuse practices, waste reduction, environmental & cultural outreach and also a fleet of buses running on natural gas.

DFW airport serves as an example to just what cities and businesses are capable of in the realm of sustainability. If an array of varying facilities and employees can all come together to make a more efficient and environmentally friendly airport then what is stopping any site from incorporating sustainable practices?


Rusty T. Hodapp, P.E., CEM, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President & Sustainability Officer Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.


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