News Release
City Services

November 12, 2013

Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Department of Aviation Welcome Nearly 400 Attendees to Airports Going Green Conference

Aviation’s premier event for sustainability kicks off with welcome from Mayor Emanuel, announcement of new Sustainability Education Fund and personalized video address from Former Vice President Al Gore

CHICAGO – The annual Airports Going Green conference hosted by the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) began today in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined with CDA Commissioner Rosemarie S. Andolino to welcome nearly 400 attendees to the three-day conference at Chicago Mart Plaza Holiday Inn. Now in its sixth year, Airports Going Green has achieved record-breaking attendance, sponsorship and exhibitors in 2013.

Airports Going Green is one of aviation’s leading sustainability forums. The event brings together leaders to discuss how airports, airlines and the aviation industry as a whole can continue to operate and grow while minimizing impacts to the environment.

“O’Hare and Midway are essential to Chicago’s global economy and the sustainability efforts being undertaken at our airports have dramatically improved the overall quality of life for residents and have led to economic opportunity throughout our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Airports Going Green brings together the industry’s best minds to share and carry on this vision for innovative sustainability, while furthering economic growth.”

At the conference today, Mayor Emanuel and Commissioner Andolino launched the Airports Going Green Sustainability Education Fund. The fund provides opportunities to advance student education through academic scholarships, both at City Colleges of Chicago campuses and other local universities.These scholarships will be awarded to eligible students pursuing studies in sustainability and related fields, including green construction, energy-efficient infrastructure management, green technology development, and sustainable agriculture. The fund was created by the CDA, AAAE and a growing network of corporate sponsors who generated more than $27,000 in funding for the scholarship’s inaugural year.

“These opportunities created by the Sustainability Education Fund serve to further our mission to enrich the lives and education of Chicago youth, as well as to develop the next generation of sustainability leaders,” said Mayor Emanuel.

The Airports Going Green conference features guest speakers from more than 20 airports across the U.S. Visitors from several international airports will also participate including Toronto; Montreal; London Heathrow; Amsterdam Schiphol; Incheon Airport in Seoul, South Korea; and several delegates from China through the US-China Aviation Cooperation Program. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and representatives from ComEd, United Airlines, JetBlue, Enterprise and many other companies will also lead discussions on sustainability.

“Over the years, this conference has evolved to reflect developments in the fields of both sustainability and aviation,” said Commissioner Andolino. “Airports Going Green provides a forum for us to work more collaboratively. Airports, airlines, the FAA, concessionaires, and others around the globe have joined our green movement and many of them are at this conference to share their ideas, best practices and lessons learned.”

The first session to lead off Airports Going Green 2013 was entitled Sustainability on the World Stage. The panel included Commissioner Andolino; Thella Bowens, CEO of San Diego Airport; Jimmy Samartzis, Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at United Airlines; Marijn Ornstein, Senior Manager, Safety, Environment & Firebrigade; Amsterdam Schiphol Airport; Jim Elwood, Airport Director, Aspen-Pitkin County Airport; Matthew Gorman, Sustainability Director, Heathrow International Airport; and Jim Crites, Executive Vice President, Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport. The group will discuss examples and thought-processes behind successful top-level, far-reaching collaboration and partnerships to advance sustainability.

Some of the other highlights for day one of this year’s conference include a personalized, video address from former Vice President Al Gore; a session on how airports can adapt to the impacts of climate change; and a session on the Federal Aviation Administration’s latest sustainability initiatives and guidance for airports.