Oakland County's new and improved airport opens next week with a facility that's a better match for the high-flying clientele that comes in and out of it. It's also an example of how to build an eco-conscious airport.
The new Oakland County International Airport is one of a handful of LEED-certified general aviation airport terminals in the country, Michigan's first and Oakland County's first LEED-certified government building. LEED is Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design, a coveted distinction from the US Green Building Council.
All told, the project cost $7.5 million, with $2 million coming from federal government.
The green, energy-saving features include wind and solar power sources, geothermal heating and cooling, and LED and fluorescent lighting. There are also electric car charging stations and a living wall in the lobby. The wall, where a collectible bi-plane hangs from the ceiling, is made of green plants watered by captured rainwater, says Airport Director David Vanderveen.
Solar panels and wind turbines will save about 15 percent in energy usage, Vanderveen says. The geothermal heating and cooling, which pulls 55-degree water from the earth so that energy is saved by not having to cool or warm water to reach ideal building temps, will save 50 percent or more in energy costs, he says.
The new airport building will house airport administration, US Customs, an office for the Waterford Police Department, and also have a conference room available to airport users and the community, Vanderveen says.
Customs can now process 70 passengers instead of 20. "It will make things much easier for the international travelers and even for our basketball team, the Pistons," he says.
The new airport replaces a 50-year-old facility that was out of date, not compliant with disabled accessibility laws, had leaky roofs and windows, and asbestos. The changes also include new parking lots and airport entrances. The new airport will be dedicated next week during an invitation-only event, and then opened to the community on Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., when 15,000-20,000 visitors are expected.
"It was a worn-out, dysfunctional building," Vanderveen says. "Oakland County has over 700 foreign firms from 33 countries. Virtually every Fortune 500 company comes through this airport. You only have one chance to make a good impression and it can either be positive or negative. We obviously want the impression to be positive, especially when we're welcoming visitors from around the world."
Source: David Vanderveen, director Oakland County International Airport
Writer: Kim North Shine