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Kansas City’s new airport terminal celebrates sustainability in a big way

KCI’s new terminal is first in Midwest to achieve LEED Gold certification and second in the country

As the largest single infrastructure project in the city’s history, and with sustainability at the forefront, Kansas City’s new airport terminal has reached new milestones for green building in the region and beyond. 

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) awarded the terminal project the LEED v4 Gold certification – making it the first terminal project in the Midwest, and only the second in the country, to receive this designation. 

The project met sustainability benchmarks for energy efficiency, water conservation, material selection, waste reduction, and more to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Design (LEED) certification. 

“The Kansas City Airport is a monumental project for the city, the community and for the country,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO of the USGBC. “It demonstrates how important infrastructure projects like airports can be built to high-performing, sustainable standards.” 

The Journey to LEED Gold

How does a project of this scale achieve LEED Gold certification?

Kansas City-based Greenwood Consulting Group managed the certification for the terminal project. 

“It was a collaborative effort and is a big accomplishment for everyone involved,” said Sara Greenwood, Principal of Greenwood Consulting Group. “We worked closely with the Build KCI team and USGBC.” 

Sara Greenwood, Principal of Greenwood Consulting; Peter Templeton, President & CEO of USGBC; Meg McCollister, Administrator for Region 7 | U.S. EPA; Pat Klein, Director of Aviation - Kansas City, MO; Quinton Lucas, Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri; Lee Barnes, Council Member, Kansas City, Missouri

Sara Greenwood, Principal of Greenwood Consulting; Peter Templeton, President & CEO of USGBC; Meg McCollister, Administrator for Region 7 | U.S. EPA; Pat Klein, Director of Aviation – Kansas City, MO; Quinton Lucas, Mayor of Kansas City, MO; Lee Barnes, Council Member, Kansas City, MO. Photo courtesy of USGBC Central Plains

Here’s a glance at the new terminal’s sustainability achievements and journey to LEED Gold.

Electric Vehicles

KCI is now the first U.S. airport to feature wireless electric bus charging. While waiting for passengers, the electric bus shuttles will park over charging pads and charge while passengers are loading and unloading, allowing the buses to service the seven-mile loop without needing the traditional plug-in infrastructure. There are charging stations to support 209 fleet vehicles. 

For passenger vehicles, there are 62 EV charging stations in the new garage and 8 spaces in the surface lot. 

Energy Efficiency

A variety of energy saving measures were incorporated into the airport design including LED lighting and controls, high-efficiency HVAC equipment, smart building controls, and a high performing building envelope. The expansive windows bring in natural light to reduce lighting use, and include coatings with insulative properties.

Renewable Energy

The terminal will use 100% renewable energy with its new onsite solar panels, as well as by participating in Evergy’s Renewables Direct program. The new parking garage features a solar panel awning on the southside with 510 solar photovoltaic panels that supply the energy equivalent of 20 average homes.

Waste

The construction project featured impressive waste diversion. More than 85% of all construction waste was diverted from the landfill when dismantling the existing terminal and when building the new one. And, more than 98% of demolished materials from the former Terminal A and its parking garage were recycled or salvaged on-site.

There are also increased recycling options inside the terminal for travelers to recycle mixed paper, aluminum, glass, cardboard, and plastics.

Landscaping

Native and drought tolerant plants, combined with an efficient irrigation system, were integrated in the landscape design to decrease water consumption by 50% when compared to conventional systems. 

Water

The airport features high efficiency bathroom and kitchen fixtures with a savings of 30% compared to conventional fixtures. This is equivalent to a savings of about 1.4 million gallons annually or 5 Olympic swimming pools.

Material Selection

Despite the large scale of the project, materials were prioritized and chosen that incorporated environmentally, economically, and socially preferable impacts, including locally sourced materials and FSC certified wood finishes. 

Healthy building materials were selected based on emissions criteria according to the California Department of Public Health. This included all flooring, ceilings, walls, interior paints and coatings, and composite wood products.

KCI is now the first U.S. airport to feature wireless electric bus charging. Photo by: Courtesy of the KCMO Aviation Department

KCI is now the first U.S. airport to feature wireless electric bus charging. Photo courtesy of the KCMO Aviation Department

Air Quality

The construction process and final project took innovative approaches to air quality. During construction, strict monitoring was in place to measure airborne pollutants for the health of workers. In addition, construction best practices were used to minimize dust, debris, and moisture from being trapped inside the building – precautionary measures that not only benefited workers onsite, but will continue to provide long-term health benefits to those visiting and working in the new terminal.

Accessibility

During the planning process, the Kansas City, MO city council issued a resolution calling for the terminal to be “the most accessible in the world.” The terminal features facility-wide wheelchair accessibility, a sensory room for children, a quiet room, and all-gender restrooms. 

The Community Impact

Led by developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate and the design-build partner Clark | Weitz | Clarkson, the Build KCI project generated up to 6,000 construction-related jobs. More than 240 Kansas City-area firms worked on the project with 130 minority and women-owned business partners. Featuring local artists, restaurants, and makers, the terminal project celebrates local. 

“To be involved in a project of this scale is a big accomplishment,” Greenwood said. “This project shows amazing harmony among many team members, especially the strategies that bridge not just energy and water, but also the human experience like air quality, daylight, inclusive design, outdoor spaces – all designed for travelers and workers. It is a really big deal.”

Kansas City’s Sustainability Momentum

The airport project builds upon Kansas City, Missouri’s momentum to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2022, the city approved a climate protection plan that includes numerous climate measures to help the metro reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for climate neutrality, such as an ambitious proposal for a solar farm that could break ground next to the KCI airport this year. 

“Sustainability is one of our core values in building construction and overall government operations,” said Brian Platt, City Manager of KCMO. “This LEED Gold certification sets the stage for our plans to build one of the largest solar arrays in the United States, adjacent to one of the most sustainable airport terminals in the United States.”

 

Lead photo courtesy of the KCMO Aviation Department

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Janet Coats
Janet Coats
11 months ago

This is great, I heard very little about this in the other local media. Love finding out that our busses are electric!

Scott
Scott
11 months ago

Yes – thank you for sharing this information. While you can assume modern construction should be done sustainably, it does not always happen. Glad to see the details. Way to go KC!!

BARBARA BUCKLEY
BARBARA BUCKLEY
11 months ago

So glad to read that sustainability is a core value for construction and government ops. Bravo!

Thank you for sharing this welcome information.

Steve
Steve
11 months ago

This is fantastic, especially love how local the building is – from the jobs, local firms, etc.

Sustainability saves money and creates jobs.

Thank you for such an informative article.

Kathy D
Kathy D
11 months ago

KC is doing it right! Too bad it’s in the middle of nowhere, otherwise I might consider a move. On 2nd thought, it is still in Missouri, so maybe not.