Oakland County International Airport debuts new green terminal

Michigan’s first “green” airport terminal opened August 23 at the Oakland County International Airport

(OCIA).   “This terminal is the gateway to Oakland County,” said Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. “There’s a ‘wow’ factor about the terminal that will give travelers a positive impression of our region.”

The new terminal will be Michigan’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified airport terminal and the nation’s first LEED-certified general aviation airport terminal.

Among the OCIA’s leading-edge green technologies are:

  • A living wall of tropical rain forest plants that clean the air inside the building
  • Wind and solar generation of electricity
  • A solar hot water heater
  • Geothermal heating and cooling
  • Highly efficient fluorescent and LED lighting
  • Electric car charging stations
  • Commuter offices
  • Recycled construction materials
  • And reuse of the old terminal site and basement

“This state-of-the-art facility is truly remarkable. It is eco-friendly and the first truly ‘green’ terminal in Michigan,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “The project is applying for LEED Gold Certification, which would make it the first general aviation terminal in the state to attain this status.”

Other notable features include:

  • A Pitts Special biplane on loan from famed stunt pilot Henry A. Haigh II and the Kalamazoo Air Zoo suspended from the terminal ceiling
  • Historical documents including the nation’s first airport certificate issued to OCIA (then known as Pontiac Municipal Airport) in February, 1930, and a document commemorating Michigan’s first air tour in 1929 signed by Orville Wright
  • An expanded U.S. Customs area that handles 70 passengers per flight, up from 20 per flight in the former terminal
  • An outdoor area for families to watch aircraft land and take off
  • And a conference center with catering kitchen

The advanced “green” technologies combined with the historical features of the airport and general interest in aviation are expected to draw a lot of attention from area schools and other organizations. The new terminal will be open to scheduled group and school tours.

The construction of the new terminal, which began with the tear down of the old terminal building in early 2010 and finished nearly 18 months later in August of 2011, was funded by Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Energy grants; a Michigan Department of Transportation Bureau of Aeronautics grant; and OCIA airport user fees. The new terminal was completed on time and within budget.

“Not one Oakland County general fund dollar was used to pay for the new terminal. Having the terminal ready on time and within budget is a true credit to the project team,” said Patterson.

The project team included Neumann/Smith Architecture of Southfield and Frank Rewold and Son, Inc. of Rochester, which utilized more than three dozen subcontractors from throughout southeast Michigan. More than 250 people were directly involved in the construction of OCIA’s new terminal.

Also part of the project team were civil engineers from Peckham Engineering in Traverse City and Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick, Inc., in Shelby Township; structural engineers from Desai/Nasr Consulting Engineers in West Bloomfield; mechanical and electrical engineers from Peter Basso Associates, Inc., in Troy; landscape architects from Grissim Metz Andriese Associates in Northville; and furnishings from Airea in Farmington Hills.

“Oakland County International Airport is an asset to the community by providing jobs and significant economic benefits. The project demonstrates how strategic investments can be used to integrate a cost-effective and efficient terminal into the natural environment. We are excited to be part of this project,” added Steudle.

In the course of a year, nearly every Fortune 500 company flies through OCIA. It has an annual economic impact of $150 million on the region.

Oakland County International Airport Fast Facts

  • The beginning of Oakland County International Airport occurred on September 12, 1928 with the purchase of 160 acres by the City of Pontiac.
  • The airport opened on November 27, 1928 and was dedicated in June of 1929 by the Pontiac Junior Chamber of Commerce in memory of Harry Joseph Brooks, Oakland County’s aviation pioneer.
  • The airport was part of the first Michigan Air Tour that took place June 10-16, 1929.  The event was commemorated by a National Aeronautic Association of U.S.A. certificate signed by Orville Wright, Chairman of the Contest Committee.
  • On February 11, 1930 the airport received Certificate No. 000001, becoming the first in the nation to receive an A-1-A rating from the U.S. government.
  • The airport was transferred from the City of Pontiac to the County of Oakland on February 25, 1967.  At the time the airport consisted of 482 acres.  Most of the aircraft were owned by individuals, businesses and corporations in Oakland County, but few came from the City of Pontiac.  The transfer thus reflected the fact that the airport already was functioning on a county-wide basis.
  • Customs service became available on a limited basis in January 1990 and on a fulltime daily basis on January 2, 1996.
  • At the recommendation of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, on March 7, 1996 the Oakland County Board of Commissioners renamed the facility Oakland County International Airport.
  • Oakland County International Airport is ranked as the nation’s twelfth busiest general aviation airport with 119,581 takeoffs and landings and second only to Detroit Metro in Michigan (2010 data).
  • More than 1/2 million passengers and pilots pass through the airport every year.  More than 800 private and corporate aircraft are based here.  In the course of a year virtually all the Fortune 500 companies use the airport.
  • The airport contributes over $150 million to the County’s economy each year.
  • The aggregate tax contribution of airport businesses ranks the OCIA community the second highest taxpayer in Waterford Township.