Tomorrow’s airports are built on sustainable solutions
Shopping malls, yoga studios, squash courts – as the numbers of travellers rise, airports are competing to offer the most attractive pre-flight environments. However, the biggest challenge facing airports worldwide is to maximise their appeal, accessibility and efficiency while minimising environmental impact.
ÅF is managing a project to extend Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport. When complete in 2017, the extension will set a new international standard in environmentally adapted airports.
Steep increase in passenger numbers
Last year 3.2 billion journeys worldwide were made by air. The rise in passenger numbers is driven by factors such as globalisation, increased competition from low-cost airlines and a burgeoning middle class. Air travel’s main impact on the climate is aircraft carbon dioxide emissions, but airport activities and road traffic to and from the airport also play a part. To create a sustainable airport requires a holistic approach that includes aspects such as climate-smart energy production and construction techniques, and sustainable transport options to and from the airport. It is also important to make sure there is sufficient on-site capacity, as a disproportionate amount of emissions is due to overcrowded terminals and skies.
Gardermoen’s environmental commitment
One airport that has invested heavily in new technology and innovations to minimise environmental impact is Gardermoen outside Oslo.
Gardermoen is the hub for air travel in Norway. In 2014 the airport was Scandinavia’s second busiest with some 24 million passengers. Only Kastrup in Denmark is larger. To meet the rise in passenger numbers, work on extending Gardermoen began in 2009. The aim was to manage a throughflow of 28 million passengers with the possibility of extending the airport further if necessary. At the same time sights were set high in terms of climate impact and the environment.
The airport must slash its energy use by 50 percent and at least 70 percent of passengers must be able to travel to the airport by public transport.To meet its capacity target and cater for up to six million more passengers, Gardermoen needs a new taxi runway, a new 117,000 square-metre terminal, a 300-metre long pier with 17 gates and 34 check-in desks, and an adjacent arrivals and departures hall. The estimated cost of this ambitious project is 1.5 billion Euros.
Important regional political issue
A bigger, better Gardermoen is crucial to provide much needed future capacity and to strengthen regional development in Oslo and in Norway as a whole. That is the firmly held belief of Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa, Norway’s Minister for Transport at the time the decision was made in 2010 to extend Gardermoen.
“Had we not decided to expand the facilities, Gardermoen would soon have been forced to turn away flights and passengers,” she says. “Norway’s geographical location and settlement pattern mean that trade and industry as well as private individuals are all highly dependent on air travel. Good conditions for air traffic are an important political issue – but for our future well-being, it’s essential that we achieve these through long-term sustainable solutions.”
ÅF leads the expansion project
Work to create a new, climate-smart Gardermoen has been led since the start in 2009 by ÅF Advansia. Norway’s largest airport owner, Avinor, has commissioned ÅF to oversee all phases of the project, from design, construction and purchasing to installations, testing, documentation, training, start-up and operational hand-over. “Having all-round responsibility for the project gives us a greater opportunity to influence ambition levels and solutions for sustainability. Projects like this enable us to optimise the collective competence and experience we have at ÅF,” says Per Børresen, who is heading the project management work at Gardermoen.
Unique construction solution
One of the key aims of the project is to make Gardermoen an international role model among environmentally adapted airports. The environmental demands are daunting, both during construction and throughout the operational phase. For example, some 87,000 square metres of the extension need to meet passive building standards. Passive buildings are super-insulated to minimise energy loss, and with the new addition Gardermoen will be the first airport in the world to build to this high standard.
“This airport extension will be unique. Gardermoen has as many passengers as Stockholm Arlanda Airport, but fewer square metres. It’s a highly compact design that makes optimum use of every inch of space. That’s important from a sustainability perspective,” Børresen explains.