Water, Waste and Energy

Water Use Reduction

As specified in the Sustainable Airport Manual (SAM), the CDA requires all projects to maximize water efficiency within buildings to reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems and to limit or eliminate the use of potable water for landscape irrigation.

Water-Efficient Landscaping

Water-efficient landscaping techniques employed at Midway include:

  • Planting drought tolerant and native plant species
  • Using high-efficiency irrigation techniques
  • Use of captured rainwater
  • Use of recycled, non-potable water

Restroom Modernization

The CDA continues to modernize airport restroom facilities at Midway by installing high-efficiency faucets, toilets and urinals to conserve water. The CDA is also incorporating more natural light to reduce electricity demand and performing other techniques to conserve water and energy.

Waste Management

The CDA is committed to reducing its environmental footprint in an efficient, cost-conscious manner. Recycling, reuse and cost-effective management of non-hazardous and hazardous wastes each play a role in managing our fiscal costs.

Mixed paper (office paper, newspaper, magazines, cardboard, paperboard, telephone directories) and containers (steel cans, aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic bottles) are all recycled at Midway. 


The CDA’s Green Concessions Policy provides concessionaires at O'Hare and Midway with guidance and standards for minimizing waste, enhancing recycling, generating demand for eco-friendly products and providing healthier foods for passengers and employees. All existing concessionaires operating at O’Hare and Midway, as well as all new concessionaires, must adopt this policy. It includes the ban of Styrofoam and petroleum-based plastic containers and utensils as well as the procurement of green cleaning products.


The CDA began a composting program in Fall 2011 in partnership with Midway Airport Concessionaires (MAC One) for restaurants operating at Midway. Composting is the natural process of recycling organic waste into a rich soil called compost.

Composting provides a cost-effective, sustainable waste disposal solution that yields many benefits including:

  • diversion of organic materials from landfills
  • natural, chemical-free fertilizer for food crops
  • promotion of higher agricultural yields.

The Midway composting program helps keep waste out of landfills and also provides a substantial source of food waste to be used as compost.

Under the program, 15 restaurants at Midway including Harry Caray's, Let Them Eat Cake (two restaurants), Miller's Pub, Sprigs, Manny's Express, Manny's Deli, Red Mango, Oak Street Beach Café, Taylor Street Market, Tuscany Café and Halsted Street Tap collect pre-consumer food waste. Pre-consumer food waste is the material that is discarded before reaching the consumer, such as what is generated from food preparation. Waste Management collects compostable materials from the airport and delivers them to an off-site, certified composting facility.

The Midway composting program complements the pilot program the CDA launched at O'Hare in partnership with HMSHost. 

Battery Recycling

Household batteries can contain mercury, cadmium, and other toxic material. To keep these from the conventional waste stream, landfills and ground water, the CDA maintains battery collection points in multiple work areas for safe, simple access. These batteries are then disposed of properly and recycled to the greatest extent practical.

Liquid Collection Stations 

Liquid collection stations have been installed at select high-volume security checkpoints. The stations provide an area to dispose of liquids prior to entering the security lines without discarding bottles. This has provided a dramatic reduction in the weight of liquids to the waste stream and reduced disposal costs. 


Each station prevents several tons of trash from going to the landfill saving electricity, oil and carbon dioxide emissions. By reducing the weight and frequency of waste hauls, the liquid collection stations are estimated to save the CDA thousands of dollars each year.

Filtered Water Bottle Refill Stations 

Once cleared through security, passengers can refill their water bottles at designated filtered water bottle refill stations. This allows passengers to refill the bottles were required to empty prior to entering security providing a convenient way to stay hydrated. Each water bottle refilled helps the CDA reduce landfill bound waste and the frequency of waste pickups.


Energy Management

Wind Turbines

The CDA installed 24 roof-mounted 1-kilowatt wind turbines atop the Midway Economy Parking Structure in June 2010. The turbines are anticipated to save over $9,000 in electricity costs annually.


U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Certification program provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in the following key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. 

The CDA achieved LEED Certification for the Midway Consolidated Rental Car Facility for unique sustainable features including:

  • Rainwater collection cisterns for drip irrigation and car washing
  • Low-flow fixtures reducing potable water use by more than 35 percent from the baseline
  • Native, drought tolerant, non-wildlife attracting landscaping
  • Bike racks with nearby showers and changing rooms
  • Preferential parking for alternatively fueled vehicles
  • Energy optimization of more than 14 percent
  • High-albedo (reflectance) white concrete to reduce the heat island effect and conserve energy
  • LED lighting
  • Solar panels and green walls
  • Purchasing 35 percent of equivalent energy from alternative renewable energy sources
  • A 17,640 square-foot vegetated green roof
  • Low emitting sealants, paints, coatings, adhesives, flooring, and composite wood
  • Zero use of chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants
  • Green construction practices, including use of regional materials and recycled content materials

Airport Compatible Landscaping

As the airport is located within a densely populated urban community, the goal of the Program, created in 2010, was to educate the local residents about landscaping options for their home and business properties. The type of trees planted are low in height, will not attract wildlife and therefore are compatible with the airport.

Some of the preferred trees for this program are Linden and HoneyLocust. Linden trees are especially hardy, tolerate alkaline soils and have a pyramidal shape that require little pruning or other maintenance. They also provide great shade. HoneyLocust trees are fast-growing with fragrant flowers. They are pollution, salt and drought tolerant and adapt to a wide range of soils.

The trees are purchased by the CDA, which is self-supporting, and uses no local or state tax dollars for operations or capital improvements at O'Hare and Midway International Airport.  The trees are planted by the Bureau of Forestry of the Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation.

Since 2010, more than 550 trees have been in the communities surrounding Midway. 

Click here​ for a listing of recommended plants and trees in Airport Compatible Landscaping Program at Midway.​