Airport sustainability involves balancing various factors. Airports need to consider their environmental impact, passenger and employee needs, and economic viability. At NACO we understand that these interrelated factors make airport sustainability complex. In this article, we break it down into 3 categories: sustainable buildings, sustainable ground infrastructure and sustainable flight.
Get clarity and inspiration and explore six of the game-changing solutions that could transform the face of aviation – and your airport – in the coming decades.
A circular building incorporates numerous design features and initiatives to promote resource efficiency, both internal and external to the airport building.
Internally circular practices for airports could include low/no carbon materials, waste separation, use of local goods, on-site renewable energy production, and triple-glazed windows. Externally, circular practices at airports may involve noise reduction, material reuse, stormwater reuse, and biodiversity protection.
The external and internal initiatives culminate in a future-proof design that focuses on sustainability and circularity in both the building structure and its operation.
Recycled materials pose a particularly attractive solution for airport sustainability: combining both circularity and cost-effectiveness. Choosing recycled materials during runway repair and replacement is a great opportunity for airports to reduce costs and promote a circular economy. In practice the old pavement materials can be recycled into base and subbase material through readily available techniques and equipment.
Due to their unique features, airports consume large amounts of natural resources – namely electricity and fuel. Where global primary energy consumption has grown 50%, global renewable energy stands at 11% of the total energy mix. To meet their sustainability goals, airports can employ various onsite renewable energies which are sustainable – and will serve to drive down both costs and energy consumption in the long term.
Large roof areas of airports make solar an attractive option to harness those solar arrays. At NACO, we assist our clients in their renewable energy strategy, renewables design integration, and implementation into their airports.
Traditional horizontal wind turbines have blades that create turbulent air behind them, which can lead to air safety issues for low-flying aircraft such as helicopters and soon-to-fly UAM vehicles. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWT) eliminate issues with wind turbulence while having a smaller land use requirement due to the blades being vertical and thin.
Finally, geothermal energy, capable of both heating and cooling airport buildings, is emerging as a promising renewable energy for airports looking to make the energy they consume more sustainable. As this energy system is primarily underground, it’s ideal for airports with minimal space to allocate.