Henderson Engineers Delivers Sustainable Operations for New Terminal at Kansas City International Airport

Images credited to “Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM.

Henderson Engineers, the lead engineer on the New Terminal at Kansas City International Airport (MCI), designed an all-electric power system for airport operations that places the facility at the forefront of sustainability.

Spanning just over one million square feet, the newly opened $1.5 billion single terminal is powered by Henderson-designed building systems that are big on energy efficiency and carbon reduction.

Those systems contributed to MCI becoming the first and largest LEED v4 GOLD BD+C: NC certified terminal/concourse project in the Midwestern United States and just the second in the entire country.

The all-electric system (a decision by the Kansas City Aviation Department (KCAD) via a joint negotiated strategy with utility firm Evergy, and implemented by Henderson) powers new terminal operations, which features 40 gates and replaced the previous three-terminal format at MCI. Compared to a traditional mixed fuel system that uses natural gas, oil, or coal, the all-electric system is expected to avoid 92% of operational CO2 emissions by 2050.

Evergy provided electric utility infrastructure improvements to help ensure and support KCAD’s move to an all-electric facility.

The electricity supply from the grid to MCI is now reliable and redundant, with ample backup, both at utility and facility levels, so it remains functional in case of a disruption.

Henderson, a 100% employee-owned national building system design firm, extended this all-electric approach to airline and passenger services at the direction of KCAD and with agreements with current air carriers.

Henderson’s engineering team, in conjunction with input from KCAD and its current air carriers, provided the necessary specification and infrastructure for electric ground service equipment (eGSE) chargers.

High speed electric chargers are allocated throughout the facility to power airline eGSE, which services aircraft in various capacities including transporting luggage and serving aircraft.

With the airport’s new 6,219-capacity parking garage, a complement to the oversize vehicle/surface parking, Henderson provided specifications and design for 70 electric vehicle charging stations.

Additionally, the Henderson engineering team’s custom-designed electrical infrastructure within the parking garage provided flexibility for the integration of a 510-panel solar array, designed and provided by Good Energy Solutions, LLC and supporting an inductive bus charging system, a first-of-its-kind at a municipal international airport.

Much like wireless phone charging, MCI’s fleet of electric buses simply park above inductive charging pads to power up while picking up travelers.

“Because we knew this facility will be in use for at least the next five decades, we were focused on its long-term success and viability,” said James Dietz, principal and aviation practice director at Henderson Engineers.

“As aviation continues to adopt sustainable design practices, going all-electric future proofs the project from taking on considerable upgrades down the road. It’s good for the planet, and good for the wallet.”

Led by developer Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate, design-builder Clark | Weitz | Clarkson, and the Kansas City Aviation Department, the new single terminal is the largest infrastructure project in Kansas City’s history, and involved 247 local partners, including more than 133 minority and women-owned businesses.

The entire team was made up of over 300 companies.

At the center of comfort within the building is a high-efficiency electric chiller plant, which is the system that provides air conditioning. Typically, chiller plants eject heat via cooling towers in the cooling process, but Henderson’s design includes a heat recovery chiller.

Instead of rejecting heat to the atmosphere via the facility’s rooftop cooling towers, the chiller plant recycles that energy within the facility, using it to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.

The system works hand-in-hand with an on-site all-electric boiler plant, a sustainable heating alternative to a gas-fired furnace that is powered by 100% renewable energy from Evergy.

Henderson’s recycling philosophy extends to the New Terminal’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which circulates fresh air while releasing exhaust and building relief air from the building.

With the inclusion of energy recovery technology, the building reclaims heat (energy) from exhaust and relief air before ejecting it to atmosphere. Captured energy is then reused within the building’s HVAC system.

“Our focus was to maximize any energy that’s created within the building to its fullest potential so we could help limit MCI’s carbon footprint,” explained Dietz.

“The building systems we designed and the resulting LEED Gold certification show that you can deliver a world-class facility without compromising sustainability.

“Our firm’s vision is to build a better world. We champion sustainable design practices as part of our MEP 2040 commitment as we believe our industry can – and should be – working to make a difference.”