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ENVIRONMENT Last modified on June 5, 2017

Energy efficiency

ACI World’s aviation environmental specialist, Juliana Scavuzzi, considers energy efficiency at airports.

Fossil fuel generated heat and electricity is generally an airport operators main source of carbon emissions, which is why reducing dependency on this type of energy, and also improving energy efficiency, have been shared industry goals for decades. 

In light of current and forecast traffic growth, airports must both increase their capacity and limit their environmental impact – particularly by improving energy efficiency. 

To date, airports have managed their energy efficiency levels in different ways. For instance, more than 100 airports have installed solar power panels, invested in green building designs that save energy, and begun using more efficient lighting, air conditioning systems and so on. 

ACI also supports its member airports in transitioning to more efficient energy use through several different initiatives. 

The first step to addressing an airports’ level of energy efficiency is to define the amount of their energy consumption. The Airport Carbon Emissions Reporting Tool (ACERT), developed in 2009 in partnership with Transport Canada, is a complimentary tool that helps airports map their own energy consumption and related carbon emissions. 

Once a report of their emissions has been established, airports are better equipped to plan their reductions and use of alternative energy as well as to document their energy efficiency improvement. ACERT can be used by both experts and non-experts alike. 

The ACI Airport Greenhouse Gas Manual is another useful tool that helps airports address their emissions related to energy use. This manual was published in 2009 and is currently being updated by the ACI World Environment Standing Committee.

You can read more about ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme on page 33 of this issue. Other initiatives include the ACI Asia-Pacific Green Airports Recognition programme, which had ‘energy management” as its 2017 theme and highlighted some truly impressive initativies.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, for example, was recognised for its implementation of a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) system – part of the airport’s Carbon Management Plan (CMP) – which reduced their dependency on the electricity grid by 7% per year, equivalent to 18,638MWh and 13,811 tonnes of CO2 per year. Darwin International Airport was also recognised for the development of the largest airside photovoltaic (PV) solar facility in the world (5.5 megawatt facility).

In North America many airports have implemented renewable energy projects and Miami International Airport recently won ACI-NA’s Environmental Management Award for a project that will save the airport more than 35 million kilowatts of power per year and $40 million in utility costs over the next 14 years. 

Elsewhere, inspirational milestone projects include Galapagos Ecological Airport and Cochin International Airport, which has become the world’s first airport to fully operate on solar power and expects to save 300,000 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years – the equivalent of planting three million trees. 

Other initiatives to reduce energy consumption have also been successfully implemented. For instance, those recognised by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, to improve efficiency in building and operations, that has certified airports such as San Francisco International (Terminal 2), Boston Logan (Terminal A) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (International Terminal).

Airports are also involved in renewable energy projects that reduce their CO2 emissions from the aircraft at the gate. In this regard, ICAO has been working with selected airports to implement a ‘solar-to-gate’ project that uses solar energy to power aircraft at the gate, substituting the use of the Auxiliary Power Unit. 

Energy efficiency at airports is indeed a topic that has evolved with the increase use of renewable energy and new technologies that present both opportunities and challenges, especially considering the increase demand for more capacity. 

New airport infrastructure, intended for long-term use, must be planned well in advance and will need to include energy efficiency concepts. Similarly, energy efficiency at airports must also be considered through the better use of existing terminals and runways. 

Increased engagement with third parties, such as airlines and ground transportation, is the next natural step for airport operators seeking to reduce their own energy consumption and influence their partners to reduce their own.

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