Energy reduction key to sustainable Schiphol

posted on 27th June 2018

Despite a recent suggestion by a Dutchman working for a Middle-East airline that “the Chinese will make everything and the Arabs will carry it,” it would be premature to assume Schiphol’s best days are over.

From its base at Schiphol-East, KLM started flying air cargo 90 years ago and remained in the forefront of commercial air cargo innovation at least until the new Millennium.

Today, while its cargo future might be more prosaic, the airline remains a major contributor in maintaining Schiphol as a global multimodal hub – the product of an interactio

n between mutually reinforcing businesses and activities.

Together the airport and its entrepreneur business customers support a wider corporate responsibility (CR) role as a promoter of Sustainability for both the Netherlands and mainland northern Europe.  The airport is keen to point out that it does more than pay lip service to the idea of Sustainability: people (employment), the planet (environment) and profits (return on investment).

According to the Schiphol Group, the scope of responsible entrepreneurship extends beyond that of its own operations. More than 500 companies operate on the former inland lake some 4.5 metres below sea level. All of them are encouraged to adopt a collaborative approach to corporate responsibility which can manifest in something as mundane as reducing the energy footprint of lighting.

The airport’s “2020 Energy Strategy” is all about reducing the use of fossil fuel.  With this in mind, Schiphol’s management plans to be energy-neutral by the end of next year. It’ll be achieved by  creating an efficient energy management system, stimulating third parties at the airport to do the same, producing and storing sustainable energy on-site, applying IT to learn more about energy usage patterns, and increasing the level of awareness among Schiphol staff.

Schiphol participates in the airport carbon accreditation scheme set up by Airports Council International to benchmark reductions in CO2 emissions. In March 2011 measures taken by the airport to reduce carbon emissions earned it a level three accreditation – one level below the highest.  This meant Schiphol not only reduced its own CO2 emissions but was also able to encourage other operators, including airline handling agents, to follow suit.

Not to be overlooked in energy reduction and conservation is the application of LED lighting. Already used to illuminate the works of art on display in the terminal, for traffic lights, emergency lights and Christmas lights, LED lighting remains in a development phase for larger public spaces because of the specific requirements and regulations that apply.  However, following successful tests at the airport’s car parks, lighting at several of these facilities has now been replaced by LED.  The next phase will be replacement LED lighting in the tunnel for apron traffic under Runway 06-24 and in the various Schiphol advertising towers and billboards.

To reduce CO2, lighting and ventilation systems at Schiphol are only switched on when they are needed. Activated by systems that detect people, they are adjusted to meet the actual climate and lighting needs at a given point in time. This technology has been in use on a large scale in the terminal building (at the gates and on the piers) since 2010 and has also been introduced in some of the office buildings at the airport, such as the World Trade Centre. The management says so-called smart switches will also be incorporated into new construction projects.

Schiphol aims to generate 20 percent of its energy requirements in a sustainable manner by 2020. Last year, solar cells were installed on the roofs of several buildings including the TransPort office building and Cargo Building 19 to generate sustainable energy. In addition, Schiphol has provided a number of buildings with heat and cold storage facilities and only purchases green power.

TransPort was opened in the spring of 2010 and remains one of the most sustainable office buildings in the Netherlands. Winning the 2011 Dutch Construction Award, it is the first building in the country to be awarded both a BREAAM and a LEED* certificate for sustainable construction.

Energy is provided to the building by solar panels and green energy; recycled “grey” water is used to flush the toilets, and the building is heated by heat and cold storage facilities. The building is also equipped with a “smart shading system” with fixed blinds that keep the sun out in the summer, but allow it to fill the rooms in winter.

Ensuring that Schiphol remains accessible to passenger and cargo customers is a key sustainability component for the hundreds of businesses that support an airport population of just under 60,000. Schiphol has what it calls a “sustainable mobility perspective” that combines measures to maintain access levels while reducing CO2 and NOx emissions.

Last year this translated into a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions by private vehicles to and from the airport. Currently 42 percent of passengers travel to Schiphol by public transport and airport employees are encouraged to do the same.  At the same time, electric power is increasingly used to travel intra-Schiphol and the airport authority says 20 percent of its vehicle fleet now runs on biodiesel.

Schiphol staff commuting to the airport with environmentally friendly cars are rewarded with an ECO2  parking emblem which gives them the right to use special parking spaces adjacent to bus stops where they are picked up for transport around the airport. Some 600 ECO2 stickers were issued in 2010.

In 2010, Schiphol became only the second location in the Netherlands to have residual waste collected by electrically powered vehicles.

Finally, to save money, reduce CO2   and improve air quality, aircraft stands are to have fixed electrical ground power facilities in 2012 that will include provision for pre-conditioned air for climate control in the aircraft cabins. The use of the new electrical GPUs will replace existing diesel units.

Whether or not the Dutch cargo executive proves to be correct, Schiphol shows no signs of becoming what it once was – a graveyard for an earlier form of transport.  Where do you think the term “clever clogs” comes from?

*BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is intended to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.