Sustainable Initiatives at D/FW

On Tuesday night, the UTA Sustainability Cohort group began our local wintermester tour at D/FW.  Our first speaker was Mr. Jerry Burbridge who works the Department of Homeland Security in the Customs and Border Patrol division. He has worked for a number of years as a Leasing and Construction Project Manager. His discussion was focused on real estate and LEED issues. There were a number of concepts and terms that Mr. Burbridge mentioned that I am unfamiliar with at this time.  I’m looking forward to learning more about life cycle costing, environmental site assessments, and safety material data sheets in future classes.

As I review my notes I notice that Mr. Burbridge mentioned 7 categories of LEED certification and I am wondering how they relate to my current teaching profession, personal life, and my future career plans.  The categories that he mentioned are:

  1. Sustainable Sites
  2. Water Efficiency
  3. Energy & Atmosphere
  4. Materials & Resources
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality
  6. Innovation & Design
  7. Regional Priorities

These categories illuminate the challenges we face in our aging public schools.  I’ve long believed that every building (public and private) should be carefully constructed and maintained for the health and well being of humans and the environment.  When Mr. Burbridge first asked us about our interest in LEED for our upcoming Maymester, I responded that I wasn’t really that interested in pursuing the topic in great depth.  Now that I’ve had time to consider the information, I look forward to learning more about LEED certification, as the built environment is critical to sustainability.

Our next speaker was Mr. Rusty Hodapp, P.E., CEM, LEED AP who is the Vice President and Sustainability for Energy and Transportation Management at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Mr. Hodapp provided us with an overview of operations and sustainability initiatives at D/FW. The airport is joint owned by Dallas and Fort Worth and employs approximately 300,000 people (based on 2005 data). There are 19 passenger carriers and 14 cargo carriers. It is the second lowest cost hub in the United States.

The tag line for D/FW’s sustainability initiatives is “Trusted with Tomorrow”.  Focusing on the triple bottom line, there are programs for health and wellness for employees, energy efficiency and renewable energy, supplier diversity, and much more.  D/FW is guided by these Principles in Sustainability:

  • Systems Thinking
  • Top to Bottom Engagement
  • Integrated Management
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Life Cycle Analysis
  • Community Partnerships

Based on data presented in the presentation, it is clear that the Terminal Renewal and Improvement Project will be a great success when it is completed. The airport’s efficiency is improving and it is impressive to see what is possible in sustainability when leadership is committed to making changes. As I reflect on the visit to D/FW, I have only one concern. How sustainable is air travel? Can the efforts made at airports offset the emissions from all of the planes in the air? A report titled “Sustainable Education: Future Air Transportation and the Environment” provided some interesting facts that lead me to believe that it might be wise to consider limiting travel, or at least purchase carbon offsets, if travel is necessary or desired.

Source: Kroo, Ilan (2008, May). Sustainable Education: Future Air Transportation and the Environment. Retrieved Janaury 7, 2011, from


About Kim Gideon

I'm an Educator, Public Speaker, and Sustainable Living and Wellness enthusiast who is seeking a more balanced way of living.
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