AIRSPACE, the Landfill Operators’ Golden Egg

November 20, 2019

Welcome to the SCS Advice from the Field blog series.

landfill airspace

Airspace is a golden egg, the equivalent to cash that a waste operating company will have overtime in its account. With each ton or cubic yard of waste received at the landfill, the non-monetary asset of airspace converts positively to the bottom line of the waste operating company’s books.

The larger the airspace, the larger the non-monetary asset, and the larger future cash potential in the account.

Therefore, it is extremely important to design landfill footprints optimally in consideration of planned operations at the site, and design landfill features maximizing airspace within the selected landfill footprint.

Optimization takes into consideration the land available for development, including the various facilities and systems necessary for operations. The type of design, depth of landfill, base slopes, leachate collection pipe slope, perimeter berm geometry and size, slopes of landfill side slopes, terraces on slopes, and many other parameters determine the airspace volume available to the landfill operator. The designer’s goal is to provide the most volume to the landfill operator.

How does the operator know that a proposed design is maximizing airspace?

If SCS is the site designer, the maximization of airspace is inherent in proposed designs for permitting. On numerous occasions, when SCS is not the site engineer, our designers have proposed a re-design of landfill features to maximize the airspace within its permitted footprint. Under these circumstances, it is not easy to convince a landfill operator of the benefits of SCS’s proposal. Naturally, one assumes a designer would not propose a lesser design on paper and carry it through the high cost of permitting, so it is common for the landfill operator to express doubts about our proposed changes. Once the operator and SCS review the technical design changes in detail, the demonstrated value becomes apparent. It is not a simple process, but on every occasion, we have successfully increased the airspace for the client, increasing potential revenue for millions of dollars beyond the originally permitted amounts.

Driven by the success of our clients, it is our culture to serve our clients completely as trusted professionals making your challenges our own. SCS is proud to say that at the date of this publication, our designers have created over $400,000,000 of additional financial benefit out of thin air for clients at a dozen landfills with more efficient landfill base grades that maximize airspace and cost less to construct.

As we move toward our 50th year, we hope to continually improve, evolve, and strive to maximize airspace at more landfills, adding value to our clients’ bottom line. Contact our nearest office if you are interested in a landfill evaluation for maximizing airspace and reducing construction costs. As always, our SCS authors are available to answer your questions or comments.

Landfill Design


Ali KhatamiAbout the Author:  Ali Khatami, Ph.D., PE, LEP, CGC, is a Project Director and a Vice President of SCS Engineers. He is also our National Expert for Landfill Design and Construction Quality Assurance. He has nearly 40 years of research and professional experience in mechanical, structural, and civil engineering.






Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am