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Christchurch Airport wins coveted award for energy efficiency

Christchurch Airport has taken out the Efficiency Champion category of the Sustainable Business Network Awards after dramatically reducing its energy use and focusing on using cleaner energy sources.

The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards have been running for 15 years and are the pre-eminent and longest-standing sustainability awards in New Zealand. The 2017 Awards ceremony was held last night at a gala dinner in Auckland.

Since 2013, when it opened its new $237 million terminal, Christchurch Airport has cut its total energy (electricity, diesel and gas) use by 21%.

General Manager Strategy & Sustainability Rhys Boswell says the airport saved 6.6% or 950,000 kilowatt hours in the past 12 months alone – that’s enough to power 120 medium-sized kiwi homes for a year.

“This is remarkable work from the team involved and we are very proud of them, especially given these savings have been achieved when we’ve had record numbers of passengers through the terminal,” he says.

The terminal was built with the world’s first large-scale system that borrows pure Canterbury artesian water (from the aquifer under the terminal) to heat and cool the building.

Rhys Boswell says a lot of work has gone into fine tuning this system, and the way the terminal is used, to maximise energy efficiency.

“Initially, our aim was to have the terminal’s annual energy use at 24 kilowatt hours per square metre by 2017. The team smashed that quickly. They then broke our goal for 2020 and then the target we set for 2025**. We are very proud of this.”

As well as achieving efficiencies in the heating and cooling of the building, the airport has introduced Electric Vehicles to its fleet, changed to LED lighting and refined the operation of its Building Management System.

Rhys Boswell says the airport has also installed new electric Ground Power Units (GPUs) on four of the terminal’s aircraft stands.

“These mean planes can be plugged into our electricity network while they are on the ground in Christchurch. Otherwise they have to burn fuel to power run their systems. Now every day when the Emirates A380 flies in, it plugs into a GPU and saves 1,000 kg of fuel or 3,150 kilograms of carbon emissions each turnaround.”  

Christchurch Airport’s success in energy efficiency helped inspire the creation of its first Sustainability Strategy. The strategy challenges the company to measure, report and most importantly continually improve its performance in the five key areas – water, energy, waste, land and noise.

Rhys Boswell says the strategy has the support of everyone at CIAL, including the Board.

“This empowers and motivates the team to innovate and try new things, so we improve our sustainability performance. Not everything we try works, and that’s accepted - the important thing is that we continue to improve overall.”

The airport released its first Sustainability Report in October 2017 showing improvements had been made in each of those areas.

“We’re now able to measure our water use in real time, our recycling rates are increasing, we have a world-first system for managing noise around engine testing and last year we remediated 14.75 hectares of land that had been contaminated before our ownership of it.”

Rhys Boswell says Christchurch Airport will continue its focus on becoming even more sustainable.

“The South Island is one of the best places in the world with a unique and precious environment that draws millions of people to visit New Zealand every year. It’s our job, as kaitiaki, to ensure we do our best to look after this place. To protect, and where possible improve, it for future generations. We’re very proud to be doing our bit and will always strive to be even better,” concludes Rhys Boswell.

* The target for FY20 was 23.5kWh per square metre and for FY25 was 22.5 kWh per square metre. In FY17, the terminal used 19.3 kWh per square metre.