A Step toward a “Greener” BGM

In line with the priorities of Broome County Executive Debbie Preston along with the Office of Energy Development, there are some exciting energy related improvements on the horizon involving the Greater Binghamton Airport.   More specifically, BGM is one step closer to utilizing cutting edge renewable energy technology to battle snow and ice in the winter while also reducing energy consumption during the hot summer months.geo1

To become a more environmentally friendly airport, we will be utilizing an advanced geothermal heating and cooling system to warm portions of the paved surface used by our airline partners to park their aircraft. During the winter months, this pavement is often snow covered and can be slippery at times. By using the geothermal system, the airport can utilize the energy found in the water just below the earth’s surface to melt snow and ice on this ramp.

Ultimately, the benefits of this progressive system will be twofold. First, pilots will benefit from a clean aircraft parking and loading zone free of snow and ice. Furthermore, passengers will benefit from a clearer and safer walkway between the aircraft and the terminal building.100_0955

Separately, in the summertime, the geothermal energy will be used to supplement the existing air conditioning system in the passenger terminal building. The geothermal energy, which is in a constant state of nearly 50 degrees, will circulate through the airport’s air conditioning system in the summer time. With the advent of the geothermal system – less conventional energy will be needed to cool the terminal building thus reducing BGM energy consumption. 

This system is a first of its kind in the United States; in fact, no other airport uses a geothermal system to heat an aircraft parking ramp. Originally, the concept was developed by students from Binghamton University with assistance from BU Professor William Ziegler, Carl Beardsley, Commissioner of Aviation of the Greater Binghamton Airport and Chad Nixon, Vice President of a local engineering firm known as McFarland-Johnson.

This novel idea was developed by the Binghamton University team in response to a call for innovative solution to problems at airport through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Student Design Competition. Not only did the geothermal concept win first prize, it was also given a coveted green light to develop a prototype with the support of a federal and a New York State grant.

The project is expected to be completed in time for this year’s winter season.