Green Scene: Sustainability takes flight

Tom Cleveland generally has his eyes to the sky, but the manager of the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport assured us that he is well grounded when it comes to sustainability in the operation of DeKalb’s gateway to the sky.

For years, the airport’s main building has been heated by recycling motor oil used in engine maintenance on the many aircraft in the airport facilities.

Fluorescent lights that once illuminated the airport’s hangars have been replaced with LED bulbs. “The LED bulbs take a minute longer to warm up,” Cleveland said, “but the money and energy saved by using LEDs makes up for this small inconvenience.”

We talked about other efforts that could possibly be implemented at the airport to decrease energy use and cost. Cleveland said he is open to new ideas, “because in the long run being green is cheaper, and just makes sense.”

Plans are in the works to purchase bicycles that can be loaned out to corporate pilots and airport visitors, giving them the option to explore the DeKalb area while waiting for their flight times.

The DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport has hosted DeKalb’s annual Corn Fest for the past several years. Cleveland noted that it would be nice to have more local vendors at the event in the future, instead of importing them from out of town. A shuttle bus from town is provided for convenient access for students and residents to attend the annual festival.

Mr. Cleveland generously gave us a tour of the main building and hangar, showing us a 1974 Cold War-era fighter jet and a small ultralight plane barely larger than a Volkswagen Beetle. Then he led us over to one of the small planes used to give flying lessons at the flight school and encouraged us to sit inside.

That was the clincher; the flight school will soon have a couple of new students in attendance.

Green Scene is written by Renee Kopulos and Linda Yates, members of the Subcommittee on Sustainability, a subcommittee of the City of DeKalb Citizens Environmental Commission. S.O.S. promotes responsible management and effective stewardship to make the city clean, healthy, resource efficient and environmentally conscious.

The committee’s next meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, in City Council Chambers in the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb. The public is welcome. Contact them at

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