Three Carbon-Neutral Airports Take Flight

Aviation is responsible for an estimated 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and many believe they could be even more damaging because they release these pollutants high in the atmosphere.

Despite the immense challenges involved in sustainably serving millions of passengers a year, these three international airports have already achieved the much-coveted “carbon neutral” status.

Since 2005, Swedavia-owned Stockholm-Arlanda airport has been using only “green” electricity and since 2006 only district heating based on biofuel. Now, they’ve found a way to tap the world’s largest energy storage unit − the aquifer that exists underneath the massive building and terminals. This aquifer reduces the airport’s annual electricity consumption by 4 GWh and its district heating  consumption by around 15 GWh, for a total of 19 GWh − equivalent to the energy consumed by 2,000 single-family homes.

In January 2008, the Christchurch International Airport Limited (CIAL) became the first airport company in the Southern Hemisphere to attain certified carbon neutral status through the reduction and offsetting of the greenhouse gas emissions directly generated by the airport company’s operations. Currently the airport recycles all paper, waste oil, cardboard, plastic, metal and glass, and all green garden waste is composted. CIAL Facilities Services staff also use EM Bokashi to reuse food scraps. CIAL uses electricity, LPG and diesel for energy supply, and has reduced electricity use for air conditioning by using groundwater as an energy source.

In August, Canada’s Gander International Airport (CYQX) became North America’s first carbon neutral airport. In an effort to establish a sustainable culture at the airport, authorities have established a program to reduce paper consumption, a procurement policy that gives preference to green vendors, and created strict anti-idling policies. The airport has also reduced electricity use, enabled more comprehensive recycling, and installed energy retrofits. Gander is just one among a small number of airports around the world that signed the 2008 Aviation and Environment Summit Declaration, which asks the industry to commit to carbon-neutral growth and a carbon-free future.

The buzz around carbon-neutral airports seems to be growing in still developing nations as well. Just two weeks ago, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) set a goal of making its five international airports carbon-neutral by 2020.

Article by Beth Buczynski, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.

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One comment on “Three Carbon-Neutral Airports Take Flight

Great news! Yet turning the airports themselves into energy efficient units still doesn’t solve the problem of gas emitting planes. Still, it’s a start.

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