Oakland County International Airport attains LEED Gold certification

Oakland County International Airport’s (OCIA) new terminal building has attained LEED Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). OCIA’s new terminal is the first airport terminal in Michigan and the first general aviation terminal in the nation to receive this coveted designation.

“Achieving LEED Gold status at our new terminal is like winning the airport Olympics,” said J. David VanderVeen, director of Oakland County’s Central Services who oversees OCIA and sits on the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.

OCIA’s new terminal opened last August featuring leading-edge “green” technology including wind and solar generation of electricity; a solar hot water heater; geothermal heating and cooling; highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting; electric car charging stations; and a living wall of tropical rain forest plants that clean the air inside the building, among other “green” features.

“Our new terminal incorporates a number of advanced green technologies and incredible architectural features that tell the business traveler that they have arrived at a county that embraces technology while preserving the environment,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “Comparing utility charges between the new terminal and the old one, our new terminal is operating at 44% greater efficiency.”

Oakland County International Airport’s cost for utilities in the terminal has dropped from 70¢ per square foot to 39¢ per square foot.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. It is a world-wide recognized green building certification system developed by the USBGC, providing verification that a building was designed and built using strategies intended to improve performance in various areas such as water efficiency, energy savings, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

The new 15,000 square foot terminal at OCIA cost $7.5 million. The construction of the new terminal, which began with the tear down of the old terminal building in early 2010 and finished nearly 18 months later in August of 2011, was funded by Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Energy grants; a Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics grant; and OCIA airport user fees. The new terminal was completed on time and within budget.

Other notable features of the new terminal include a Pitts Special biplane on loan from famed stunt pilot Henry A. Haigh II and the Kalamazoo Air Zoo suspended from the ceiling; historical documents including the nation’s first airport certificate issued to OCIA (then known as Pontiac Municipal Airport) in February, 1930, and a document commemorating Michigan’s first air tour in 1929 signed by Orville Wright; an expanded U.S. Customs area that handles 70 passengers per flight, up from 20 per flight in the former terminal; an outdoor area for families to watch aircraft land and take off; and a conference center with catering kitchen.

The terminal is the crowning achievement of a master plan to create a world-class general aviation/business aviation airport. Other airport features include the first fuel-water separator in Michigan to keep aircraft fuel from leaching into groundwater; the world’s first aesthetic ground run-up enclosure; and an extended runway.

OCIA can handle aircraft as large as a 727; its runway length allows aircraft to reach the west coast, Mexico, Europe and Asia without refueling. In the course of a year, nearly every Fortune 500 company flies through OCIA. It has an annual economic impact of $175 million on the region.