Q&A: Airport Technology – Sustainable success: Oslo Airport opens ‘world’s greenest’ terminal

Oslo Airport has become the first to receive an ‘Excellent’ rating under the internationally recognised BREEAM sustainability assessment due to an array of eco-friendly features – such as harvesting snow for summer cooling – as part of its new NOK 14 billion expansion project to double passenger capacity.

An environmentally friendly airport might sound like an oxymoron, but the Avinor-run Oslo Airport can now make this claim after its seven-year expansion project to double capacity to 32 million passengers per year and provide an extra 117,000 square metres of space, 11 new jet bridged gates and 10 new remote aircraft parking spaces, was given the green stamp of approval by BREEAM, the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings.

The project, which was managed by ÅF Advansia AS and completed in April, made sustainability a focus right from the start. But implementing meaningful emission reductions and long-term environmentally friendly solutions – rather than just ‘green-washing’ – was a huge challenge, as Asbjørg Næss, the project’s head of environmental concerns, explains.

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Heidi Vella: For this project, why was it important to have a high focus on sustainability?

Asbjørg Næss: Aviation contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, so Avinor thought it important to go greener, especially because big projects like this can have a big environmental impact.

Avinor also learned that a sustainable eco-friendly airport is a good business case. I think they were surprised that financial institutions focus a lot on the control of environmental risks and this programme, with all the sustainability targets, helped them get good finance.

HV: When designing an airport to be sustainable and eco-friendly, where do you start?

AN: The airport was originally built in the 1990s and even then, there was a focus on pollution control because it is situated on a ground water resource. For this project, Avinor wanted to take the environmentally friendly and eco standards much further, but they weren’t entirely sure what they wanted.

So, as a team we made a programme focusing on environmental targets in different fields. For example: no hazards in materials, CO2 emissions from materials production should be much lower than comparable buildings. We also decided to make it adhere to the BREEAM certificate level ‘Excellent’.

HV: Which of the green elements of the expansion are you most proud of?

AN: I am proud of many things, but particularly that we managed to get BREEAM Excellent, and with a very good margin.

I’m very proud of the low carbon energy supply. We keep the snow from winter under sawdust and in summer when it melts use the cold water for cooling the internal building. We have so much snow in the winter we usually don’t know what to do with it but now we are using it as a resource.

For heating we use grey water and the ground water under the airport. The terminal is also designed as a ‘passive house’ which is a German concept; it means the building is designed so it needs less energy. In Norway you get a fund for building a passive house, which we received.

We also have good insulation throughout the whole building; the windows minimise energy loss, and we have a solar screen to keep the sun away when it is really sunny.

Reading the full interview here