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Raising the sustainability bar


Airport World discovers more about SFO’s new Airport Carbon Accreditation status, a climate goals agreement between Hamburg and Christchurch airports, and a handful of other green initatives across the globe.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is celebrating a major sustainability milestone after being awarded Level 4 ‘Transformation’ status in ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme.

The advanced certification recognises the Californian gateway for greenhouse gas reduction from its own operations as well as collaboration with third parties, such as airlines and service providers, in reduction strategies.

As part of this accreditation, the airport is committing to reach zero net emissions by the year 2030.

“This is a major milestone in our goal to be the first zero carbon airport in the world. My thanks go out to the entire SFO airport community for this accomplishment,” said SFO’s airport director, Ivar Satero.

At Level 4 ‘Transformation’ of ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme, airports are required to align their carbon management ambition with global climate goals and transform their operations with absolute emissions reductions in mind, while also strengthening their stakeholder engagement.

SFO – which has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from airport-controlled operations by 35% since 1990 – notes that it has achieved LEED Platinum Community designation from the US Green Building Council, certifying 16 green and healthy buildings, including the world’s first net zero airport building (Airfield Operations Facility), LEED Gold (v2009 – Terminal 2) and LEED Platinum (v4.1 – Harvey Milk Terminal 1) terminals, and a WELL Platinum and FitWel-certified Terminal.

Other emissions reducing strategies have included operating eight electric buses and expanding the AirTrain – an electric-powered light rail system – that eliminated over 600 daily bus trips to shuttle passengers between terminals and the Rental Car Center.

Global co-operation at its best

Hamburg Airport in Germany and New Zealand’s Christchurch Airport, two airports on the opposite sides of the earth, have agreed to pursue their ambitious climate goals together in the future.

Although 18,000 kilometres apart, the airports have liaised with each other for some time as each has taken a pioneering role in aviation’s decarbonisation journey in their respective countries.

And they now want to actively work towards the net zero climate goal, with a special focus on the future use of green hydrogen.

Indeed, the German gateway says that by the end of 2035 it aims to have completely eliminated carbon dioxide emissions (net zero) and develop its own hydrogen infrastructure.

Hamburg Airport CEO, Michael Eggenschwiler, said: “Sustainable airport operations with renewable energies is a building block for climate protection in air transport – and we will consistently continue on this path.

“Keywords are wind power, solar energy, green hydrogen. Which solutions are suitable for airports and their respective locations must be individually examined and prepared. We are therefore all the more pleased to have gained an experienced partner in Christchurch Airport.

“On an international level, we can bundle our know-how to work towards CO2-free airport operations and a future with sustainably operated aircraft.”

In mid-November, New Zealand Ambassador, Craig Hawke, and Trade Commissioner, Simon Hearsey, visited Eggenschwiler at Hamburg Airport to find out more about the decarbonisation measures at Germanys fifth biggest airport.

Both partners want to actively prepare and promote the future use of green hydrogen as an emission-free energy carrier in aviation and exploit synergy effects. This involves both H2-powered vehicles on the ground and hydrogen-based aircraft propulsion systems to enable a sustainable future for aviation.

Frankfurt’s photovoltaic initiative mission

Elsewhere in Germany, Frankfurt Airport operator, Fraport AG, is embarking on another photovoltaic (PV) project at the gateway to increase its proportion of green energy.

It has installed a demonstration system of 20 PV panels with an output of 8.4 kilowatts at the south western end of Runway 18 West and plans to extend the triple-array PV system along Runway 18 West.

Once fully installed, the system is intended to span a length of 2,600 metre parallel to the runway, with a peak generating output of up to 13 megawatts.

Unlike existing PV systems at the airport, the panels for this new system are positioned vertically, rather than diagonally, and the double-sided glass modules pick up sunlight from both an easterly and westerly direction.

According to Fraport, these fence-style systems offer numerous advantages. While they take up minimal space, they generate large volumes of electricity because of their ability to harness sunlight throughout the day.

Another benefit is that grass below the panels is not significantly impacted by the systems overhead since the panels do not obstruct rain or create permanent shading.

“This means we can expect maximum electricity generation with a minimal impact on nature,” says Marcus Keimling from Fraport’s network services team. “That’s important because our green spaces are virtually unique when it comes to their biodiversity. We want this characteristic to remain to the fullest extent, even with the new installation.”

Self-generated solar power has been a major component of Fraport’s energy mix since March 2021 and includes a 13,000 square metre PV system that uses a more traditional layout on the roof of a cargo warehouse in CargoCity South and generates peak output of around 1.5 megawatts.

In the longer-term, more PV systems are planned to be installed on new buildings such as the parking building for Frankfurt Airport’s new Terminal 3.

Shannon Airport Group launches new sustainability strategy

Shannon Airport Group has launched a new sustainability strategy that it hopes will act as a blueprint to achieve a more sustainable future for the Group, its people, and the community.

Initiatives have been devised across four pillars and include the creation of sustainability programmes to upskill staff; developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2030; and developing a biodiversity action plan for the Shannon Campus.

Launching the strategy, Shannon Airport Group CEO, Mary Considine said: “We believe it is now more critical than ever to ensure that everything we do across The Shannon Airport Group has a positive impact, environmentally, socially, and economically.

“The ambition for our sustainability strategy is to lay the foundation on which to build a sustainable, vibrant thriving economy for future generations.”

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