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How airports are going green

06 November 2020 08:54

Jet off on an eco-friendly runway

Jet off on an eco-friendly runway

With the travel industry under pressure, here's how airports are upgrading their buildings to improve their environmental credentials.

Converting unused space

Many of the world's airports are simply too big, with whole rooms and walkways that aren't needed. That's why some airports, such as Pittsburgh International in the US, are looking at ways to decommission and recycle unused space. Pittsburgh's "Terminal Modernisation Program" is finding ways to reduce the distance between terminals, reducing the need to power unnecessary indoor space.

Utilising sustainable materials

While we're used to seeing airport terminal buildings made out of steel, concrete and cladding, one airport in Norway is bucking the trend. Terminal 2 of Oslo Airport uses regionally-sourced timber in its construction, supported by recycled steel concrete mixed with volcanic ash, which has a longer lifespan than regular cement concrete. The building also includes a skylight to provide natural light and warmth, reducing energy costs.

Becoming smart airports

Airport terminal buildings waste a lot of energy on things they could easily do without, such as heating and lighting parts of the building that aren't in use. That's why many airports are investing in ‘smart' technology, which is able to regulate energy consumption automatically.

Harnessing sunlight

In 2015, India's Cochin Airport became the first in the world to be 100% solar-powered. More than 46,000 solar panels provide 12 megawatts of solar energy to India's fourth-busiest airport. Now many other airports are following Cochin's example, including Chattanooga Airport in the USA, George Airport in South Africa and Gautam Buddha International Airport in Nepal, to name a few.

Literally going green

Singapore's Jewel Changi Airport, which opened in April 2019, is the perfect example of how airports can literally go green. It provides all the usual airport essentials - shops, entertainment and even a hotel - all hosted within an indoor jungle which even boasts the world's tallest indoor waterfall. The fauna were chosen especially to help regulate the indoor temperature, reducing the need for ventilation and heating, and helping Jewel Changi to earn Singapore's second-highest energy rating award.