Chicago’s Airports Will Develop Solar Energy, Food Composting

During the holiday season, Americans fly more than at any time of the year.  The greenhouse gases emitted from jet engines make air travel among the least sustainable methods of transportation on Earth.  That said, Chicago’s airports recently announced projects that will make them slightly more sustainable sites.

Solar energy collectors will be installed on up to 60 acres at O’Hare International Airport and a service station selling alternative fuels for private and commercial vehicles will open near the airport, Chicago’s aviation chief announced today.

“The solar panels will provide a substantial renewable energy source to help power O’Hare, and the alternative fueling station will promote the use of clean fuels and electricity to power vehicles,” city Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said at the 2011 Airports Going Green conference, which runs through Wednesday in downtown Chicago and at O’Hare.

And at Midway Airport, a composting program will be launched to handle food waste from the Southwest Side airport’s 13 restaurants, Andolino said.

A private waste hauler will collect compostable materials at Midway, ranging from leftover food to cardboard boxes, and deliver them to an off-site composting facility, said Amy Malick, deputy commissioner of sustainability at the Chicago Department of Aviation.

The Midway project follows a pilot composting program at O’Hare. A total of 200 tons of compostable waste at both airports will be diverted from landfills each year, Malick said.

If you are interested in learning more about energy systems as they relate to transportation, Roosevelt seminars including SUST 320 Sprawl, Transportation, and Planning (offered this spring online) and SUST 310 Energy and Climate Change (also offered this spring online) may be of interest. For more information on these or any other of our courses, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email

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