Five years of system efficiency at Orlando International Airport

View from the top of an escalator at an airport
Hanson provided commissioning services for Orlando International Airport's South Airport Automated People Mover Complex and Intermodal Terminal Facility expansion.

The Orlando International Airport is one of the busiest airports in Florida and was the eighth busiest in the U.S. in 2022, according to AFAR.comThe airport provides $41 billion in annual revenue for the regional economy, as noted by Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders.

Five years ago, Hanson helped the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) lift a major project off the ground at Orlando International with commissioning services for the facility’s South Airport Automated People Mover (APM) Complex and Intermodal Terminal Facility (ITF) expansion. The commissioning of the new APM complex and ITF established the infrastructure for the airport’s South Terminal C, which opened to travelers in September 2022. 

Challenges and lessons

Hanson’s team commissioned systems including the major building envelope, mechanical (heating, ventilating and air conditioning [HVAC]) and building automation, plumbing, electrical and life safety for the complex. The project encompassed the design and construction of several facilities with a total conditioned area of approximately 335,000 square feet (greater than five football fields), including the four-story APM and ITF, the intercity rail called Brightline and ground transportation comprising public busing, shuttle buses, taxis and limousines. The facility includes a passenger drop-off lobby; central energy plant; and six-level, approximately 2,400-space parking garage, which will be expanded to accommodate 5,000 parking spaces.

The project presented challenges and lessons, such as the need to consider planning for functional performance testing and “tuning” systems within a partially opened complex that serves the public, submitting the project for LEED® v4 certification and interfacing the commissioning team’s cloud-based web application with the process and owner’s construction management programs. The building commissioning team helped GOAA meet its sustainability and energy-efficiency goals for the project, including a LEED v4 BD+C (new construction) campus certification.  

Energy efficiency and savings

The APM and ITF commissioning was an economical and cost-effective solution for GOAA. Commissioning is part of a quality assurance and risk management system that enables a building’s systems to operate effectively and efficiently from the first day of operations. The value of commissioning, which is much greater than the cost, becomes apparent in energy efficiency and savings, as well as in a building’s ongoing reduced maintenance and operational costs.

"Various technical articles report that the efficiency of equipment operation degrades at a rate of 2% to 4% per year,” said Bill Bradford, P.E., a senior vice president and Hanson’s energy, sustainability and resiliency principal who works at the Orlando, Florida, regional office, “so it makes sense economically and from an energy standpoint to verify your equipment operates at peak efficiency when you accept it."

Commissioning helped GOAA achieve a healthy environment, including ideal ventilation, temperature and humidity levels for travelers, through the integrity of the building envelope and the proper control of its HVAC systems. The commissioning team also oversaw the contractors’ delivery of operations and maintenance documentation and training for the owner’s facility staff.

Bill Bradford can be reached at