Auckland International Airport: a Toitū carbonreduce case study
Auckland Airport is the key gateway into New Zealand and, as such, offers the first and last impressions for millions of international visitors each year. Auckland Airport has had a sustainability policy in place since 2008 and in the same year signed an Airport Council International (ACI) declaration on climate change, confirming its desire to work towards carbon neutrality.
What is your involvement with Toitū Envirocare?
Auckland Airport has worked with Toitū Envirocare through its Toitū carbonreduce programme since 2013. We have voluntarily disclosed our carbon footprint since 2007 but needed to adopt the ISO 14064 standard. This is a global standard and with Toitū carbonreduce certification there is independent external auditing of our data and performance.
How has it changed what you do?
With Toitū carbonreduce certification we have to meet specific requirements for emissions management and reduction, planning to continually improve. It aligns our management of climate change risks with international best practice for emissions considering emissions intensity, turnover and head count.
What kind of improvements have you made?
Auckland Airport has reduced its carbon footprint by 26 percent for the year ending 30 June 2017, compared to the previous year. The airport’s Energy Management team has upgraded plant and equipment in the international terminal. In 2012 all the lights, some 750, were replaced in the check-in area of the international terminal. Replacements were highly efficient and dimmable and included a significant number of light-emitting diodes (LED). This initiative has reduced the energy being consumed, on a square metre basis, by 50 per cent. In addition, the lights are connected to smart controls that mean they respond to light levels and occupancy and can be individually set to achieve the correct light levels for tasks while also minimising energy consumption. This pushes the savings up to over 70 per cent! And there is more to come with current reprogramming of the computers and software that control all the building’s energy functions. The airport’s carbon footprint has reduced 35 percent since 2012, from internal energy and fuel savings and because more of the electricity available from the national grid comes from renewable sources.
Have you saved money because of your initiatives?
Energy and fuel costs have remained below five percent of operational costs (in the region of $4-5 million) for the past five years, despite the growth in the airport’s activities and the increased number of travellers passing through the facility. A recently completed energy efficiency project concentrated on heating and cooling in one of the piers in the international terminal. The project saw the replacement of old and inefficient drives with the latest variable speed technology, linked to carbon dioxide sensors. This means fans moving air around the check-in area have changed from being either fully on or fully off, to ramping up and down according to demand. This provides an opportunity for electrical energy savings when cooling is required and gas savings when heating is required. The project achieved verified electrical energy savings of 84% and gas savings of 56%. That's a combined monthly energy saving of 62 per cent, 175,000 kWh or $15,000.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
I’m most proud of the fact that sustainable business practice is now embedded into our business as usual processes and practice. It’s not about short term wins but more about long term gains. The company is engaged and we know how we are tracking towards science based carbon reduction targets in 2025 and 2050.
What has been the most challenging aspect of this?
Emissions relating to development and growth are the most challenging. These one-time emissions are being measured and it provides us with an opportunity to design future projects to encourage lower carbon outcomes. The new domestic terminal is being designed to a lower carbon footprint with the help of architects and engineers but it will require delivery via our many construction supply chain partners. The airport has $1.8 billion of development planned for the next five years, so sustainable design creating and maintaining a low carbon footprint from our infrastructure is critical.
How has being a member of Toitū carbonreduce programme assisted you?
The credibility of the Toitū carbonreduce process is recognised globally even though it is a New Zealand product. There is a network of Toitū carbonreduce certified companies nationally and we can learn from one another’s experiences. The process involves an independent auditing process that allows us to promote transparent sustainability achievements to our investors and other stakeholders. The annual review gives us business intelligence and it adds to our corporate reputation. We have access to the Toitū Envirocare team who are there to help and are totally focused on delivering international best practice.
Where are you heading now with your carbon management efforts?
We are continuing to reduce our operating emissions and not just the terminal infrastructure, but around the whole property portfolio. We are putting more hybrid and plug in hybrid vehicles on our fleet to reduce fuel use. Other programme are looking at water and waste minimisation and there are further opportunities in low carbon design for new developments.
What advice would you give other companies thinking of mitigating their carbon footprint?
Our advice would be to do it early, get a basic measurement of your carbon footprint before your start trying to make improvements. That way you can monitor and manage your successes and transparently report them to your stakeholders.
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Toitū carbonreduce certified organisations
(formerly known as CEMARS)
This certification is awarded to companies that are actively working to measure and manage their carbon footprint.
To achieve Toitū carbonreduce certification, an organisation must measure their organisation’s full greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (also known as a carbon footprint) so they understand what their impact is on the global climate. They measure all operational emissions required under the international standard for carbon footprints, ISO 14064, including vehicles, business travel, fuel and electricity, paper, and waste. The emissions are measured annually and the inventory is independently verified to ensure it is accurate and complete. Once they have measured their footprint, the organisation must develop plans to manage and reduce their emissions continually. As part of achieving Toitū carbonreduce certification, the organisation needs to achieve emissions reductions on a five year cycle.