Philadelphia International Airport Taxiway J Rehabilitation

Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Pa. — The City of Philadelphia Department of Aviation (DOA) has obtained an Envision Verified award for integrating principles of sustainability into the design and construction of its Taxiway J Rehabilitation project at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The DOA engaged RS&H, Inc. to design this key project that will transform airport operations by rehabilitating Taxiway J’s western stretch. Construction is currently underway and is expected to be complete in the fall of 2024.

PHL is the only major airport serving one of the nation’s top ten largest metropolitan areas, with over 300 daily departures to 120 destinations worldwide. It serves as a hub for 27 airlines, including all major domestic carriers, and accommodates more than 28 million passengers each year.

PHL consists of four runways with crossfield taxiways connecting the north and south sides of the airfield, as well as the Cargo City apron and deicing apron on the west side of the airfield. Quality maintenance is paramount for these airfield pavements to ensure continued operational safety and efficiency, and an evaluation revealed that Taxiway J was due for rehabilitation.

The DOA set out to have Taxiway J reconstructed from Taxiways Z to Y, adjacent to the west cargo apron, along with its connector Taxiways K7 and K8, and all associated safety areas. The project was also identified as an early opportunity to showcase PHL’s commitment to enhancing the sustainable performance of their airport by using Envision as a guiding framework. This is the first project to become Envision verified as a part of the DOA’s recent adoption of the Envision framework for airfield and landside projects, and it also marks the first Envision Award in the state of Pennsylvania.

Verified Sustainability Achievements

Safety and Security – The project team developed a comprehensive and proactive Construction Safety Phasing Plan that extends to the contractor, James J. Anderson Construction (JJA), and all subcontractors involved in the project. It identifies all construction activities that will occur as part of the project within the Air Operations Area and defines how each construction area will comply with FAA regulations and requirements on airfield safety. Methods for safety inspections and communications, as well as requirements for security and training for project personnel, are set out in the plan.

Sustainability Leadership & Management – The DOA has established a set of  design standards to incorporate sustainability and climate resilience into all of its capital projects.  These standards include a commitment to measuring and addressing the social, environmental, and economic aspects of development projects at PHL and PNE (Northeast Philadelphia Airport) along with the utilization of the Envision framework for design and construction of airport infrastructure. The project team hosted a sustainability kickoff meeting – including interdisciplinary representation from engineers, planners, capital developers, construction managers, project managers, sustainability experts, and senior leadership – to discuss aligning their sustainability goals with Envision. The team then developed a project-specific Sustainability Management Plan to guide, track, and communicate their sustainability efforts using Envision throughout the project.

Operational Energy Reduction – The project team analyzed operational energy consumption for the project and determined the driver to be airfield lighting and signage. All airfield lighting and signage will be updated from traditional incandescent bulbs to more energy-efficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. This is expected to reduce operational energy consumption by 55%.

Reducing Impervious Cover – The project area is 14.75 acres, all located on previously developed airport property, and it consists of airfield pavement and grass infields. The project team found the total impervious cover to be 13.68 acres, or 93% of the project area. This project will reduce impervious cover by removing unneeded pavement and converting 0.18 acres of impervious cover back to pervious grass cover.

Infrastructure Integration – Taxiway J serves as an important connection to the airport’s deicing apron. During periods of winter weather, aircraft use Taxiway J for queuing to access the deicing apron. If the taxiway were not safe to use due to poor pavement conditions, this would cause flight delays. Originally, this project’s scope only included the rehabilitation of pavement for Taxiway J from Taxiways Z to Y. However, it became apparent to the project team that the intersection of Taxiway J and Taxiway Y should also be included in the project scope. The expanded scope not only improves safety for the overall airfield, but also allows for more efficient taxiway operations for the airport. Another key enhancement will be the installation of specific airfield lighting that provides routing, guidance, and surveillance for improved control of aircraft and vehicles during various weather conditions.


“We are proud that our airport has received its very first Envision verification for Taxiway J,” said Lee Sutanto, Philadelphia International Airport’s Assistant Engineering Manager. “This achievement was made possible through a collaborative and concerted effort by the design team, the airport’s project and construction management team, and the cooperation of the general contractor. We work hard at PHL to prioritize sustainability in all our infrastructure investments.”

“RS&H has worked with PHL/PNE DOA to create a programmatic approach for Envision, developing policies, procedures, guidance and documentation for project teams,” said Megan Kilinski, ENV SP, Sustainability and Resilience Consultant at RS&H. “Leveraging this programmatic approach was key to our team’s success with the TW-J rehabilitation project, and the lessons we learned are paving the way towards more sustainable infrastructure projects at the airport in the future.”

“We are excited to celebrate PHL’s first Envision Award as they embark on their journey toward greater sustainability,” says Kristi Wamstad, ISI Verification Director. “PHL’s Department of Aviation’s commitment to sustainability through the use of Envision sets a great example for the airport industry.”

Envision-verified project
: PHL Twy J Rehabilitation
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Lead Envision Firm: RS&H, Inc.
Envision Rating: Verified
Award Date: April 17, 2024
Total Cost of Project: US$28 million
Project Owner: Philadelphia International Airport – Department of Aviation
Project Partners: RS&H, Michael Baker International, and James J. Anderson Construction Company, Inc.
Project Phase: Construction
Project Delivery Method: Design-Build