Fort Wayne International Airport has completed work on a rental car return lot canopy expansion and solar energy project that will improve the customer experience, as well as the efficiency of FWA’s electricity usage.

This project was comprised of two components — expanding the existing covered canopies over the rental car ready/return lot for rental car customers and adding solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on top of the canopies. The canopy expansion added six new canopies creating a fully covered facility for rental car pick-up and returns. Previously, only the first half of the six parking rows were designated for covered parking.

The new solar panels were added to both the existing and newly constructed canopies. This is FWA’s first renewable energy project, which will reduce commercial power usage.

Construction on the rental car return lot canopy expansion and solar energy project began in June after the completion of the parking lot rehabilitation project. The project engineer was CHA Consultants, with James S Jackson Company serving as the general contractor for the canopy expansion and Johnson Melloh Solutions serving as general contractor for the installation of the solar panels. The approximate cost of the project was $2.1 million.

The solar panel component of the project is projected to produce 657,249 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity by using energy from the sun. Based on numbers compiled from the airport’s 2019 electrical usage, the new solar farm is anticipated to produce enough energy to completely power FWA’s vehicular parking lot lights, as well as the runway lights on the airport’s airfield. This will allow for FWA to reduce its carbon footprint, and further efforts to be sustainable and efficient.

“The completion of the rental car return lot canopy expansion and solar energy project continues FWA’s commitment to delivering excellent customer service to our passengers and guests, while also furthering our desire to create an innovative and sustainable facility as we move into the next chapter of the airport through Project Gateway and the upcoming terminal expansion,” said Scott Hinderman, executive director of airports, in an announcement.

“It is exciting to know that as we prepare for the holiday season and turn on the holiday decorations this week that we are generating the power needed to support those lights,” said Robin Strasser, director of administration and finance, in a news release.

The rental car return lot canopy expansion and solar energy project is a part of Project Gateway — FWA’s airport expansion and improvement project, which includes the parking lot rehabilitation project, east and west terminal apron improvement project, and the FWA west terminal building expansion. For more information and current updates on Project Gateway visit www.fwairport.com/project-gateway.

The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority (FWACAA) was created in 1985 and is responsible for managing the Fort Wayne International Airport and Smith Field Airport.

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