FedEx Express hosts largest green roof at any United States airport

The FedEx green roof has just under 175,000 square feet of space.

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., opened the new package sorting center at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which conducts operations under the largest continuous vegetated roof at an airport in the United States – or the size of three football fields.

At just under 175,000 square feet, the roof is plainly visible from planes as they land at one of the world’s busiest airports. The recently-opened building is also the largest green roof on a freestanding building in the greater Chicago area.

FedEx is already known for its green initiatives, such as the addition of all-electric trucks into its fleet (including six currently making deliveries in the Chicago Loop) and the purchase of fuel-efficient Boeing 777s. But green roofs at FedEx and elsewhere at O’Hare are more than just a pretty tapestry of greens, pinks and gold foliage.

These roofs also benefit the environment by:

•Reducing air pollution

•Reducing storm water runoff

•Extending the average life of a roof from 15-20 years to 40-50 years

•Lowering energy costs by 35 percent a year

•Reducing airport noise

“The cooperative effort between FedEx and the Chicago Department of Aviation’s O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP) is a prime example of how to immediately reduce the environmental impact of airports and create value for business and for the community,” said Don Colvin, vice president, Properties and Facilities at FedEx Express.

“The creation of the green roof space is a key component of going green across the City of Chicago, and at O’Hare and Midway International Airports,” said Rosemarie S. Andolino, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation.

FedEx and the OMP are also pursuing LEED Gold certification for the facility, extending the company’s intent announced earlier this year of LEED certification for all new US FedEx Express properties.

The FedEx Express facility is the latest success in what has been years of initiatives to make O’Hare greener, such as building LEED certified airport facilities, recycling construction materials on the airfield, utilizing clean emission vehicles and construction equipment, installing energy efficient lighting, and even providing a habitat for honeybees with the nation’s first on-airport apiary.