Inside LaGuardia’s High-Flying Terminal B

New York City's landmark $5 billion airport project sets a new standard for sustainable development.

When LaGuardia Airport’s new Terminal B is complete next year, it will bring the aging aviation hub fully into the 21st century. Besides its distinction as one of the largest, most complex projects of its kind ever undertaken, the facility in a northern corner of Queens, N.Y., is  destined to be a sustainability leader. Terminal B has earned the Envision Platinum certification, the highest honor conferred by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. Envision recognizes projects that lead the industry in their approach to sustainable and resilient infrastructure development.

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The Terminal B redevelopment is handled by a Skanska-Walsh joint venture and is the first project to receive the award under the newly updated Envision V3 framework. This new framework evaluates projects across five categories and 64 sustainability criteria to produce a holistic view of the project’s commitment to sustainable practices. Envision’s sponsor, the non-profit Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, is sponsored by three leading organizations of public works and civil engineering associations and offers sustainability ratings for civil infrastucture. 

These practices include traditional factors—such as reducing emissions, recycling material and using renewable energy sources—as well as more holistic indicators of social and economic stability such as minimizing construction impacts, providing employment opportunities for local residents, resilient design and improving mobility and access.

Building on Platinum Standards

Valued at $5.1 billion—including $4 billion in construction value—the LaGuardia Terminal B project is the largest public-private partnership in U.S. aviation history. When complete, Terminal B will be the first in the world to include dual pedestrian bridges spanning active aircraft taxi lanes and will connect the main part of the terminal to two island concourses. The concourses, combined with new roadway systems will create more efficient aircraft movement patterns as well as reduce traffic on local roads, which in turn will reduce fuel consumption by planes, cars and other vehicles.

LaGuardia Airport New Terminal B Rendering. Image courtesy of HOK

During the demolishing of the Terminal B parking garage, the team was able to recycle 21,604 tons of concrete, of which 2,475 tons were reused on the adjacent job site. Overall, Skanska stated they’ve recycled nearly 100 percent of debris removed from the old parking garage.

Skanska-Walsh reused groundwater pumped from excavations to make lightweight concrete instead of tapping potable water sources. To achieve this high level of certification from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, the joint venture paid special attention to worksite safety and minimized noise, vibration and other construction impacts on the local community.

Advanced technology

Sustainability features at the facility include Siemens’ Desigo CC integrated building management system that will allow LaGuardia Gateway Partners to monitor and optimize its performance. About 19 percent net energy savings are anticipated, which will stem from the project’s design that will include a new baggage handling system, a sophisticated building envelope, solar water heaters, as well as large skylights and wall-to-ceiling windows that reduce the need for lighting.

LaGuardia Airport New Terminal B Eastern Concourse. Image courtesy of HOK

New efficient fixtures and rainwater harvesting will provide a 40 percent reduction in water use. In addition, the terminal includes floodproofing and has placed critical infrastructure above flood zones, including projected sea-level rise. The project also scored points for a design that accommodates a future AirTrain connection at Terminal B.

The project stakeholders’ group is comprised of LaGuardia Gateway Partners—the Terminal B operator and developer—the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, WSP, HOK and Vantage Airport Group, as well as the local community. The Terminal B arrivals and departures facility is slated to open in mid-2020, according to the Port Authority.

LaGuardia Airport employs approximately 10,000 people and contributes more than $13 billion in economic activity in the region, generating an additional 100,000 jobs and nearly $5 billion in annual wages and salaries. It occupies more than 680 acres and serves more than 19 million people.