Apron resurfacing project wins Sustainability Initiative of the Year Award at the New Zealand Airports Awards

The Queenstown Airport BECA and Downer NZ team attend the NZ Airports Association Awards

Queenstown Airport (QAC) and Downer were delighted to take out the title of Sustainability Initiative of the Year Award at the NZ Airports Association Conference Awards dinner last night in Auckland for its innovative and sustainable approach to resurfacing the airport’s aircraft parking (apron) area.

Partnering with Downer, the same company behind the airport’s 2016 win for the widening and resurfacing of Queenstown Airport’s runway which helped enable after-dark flights to Queenstown, the award win was based on innovative and sustainable infrastructure delivery techniques and strong community engagement.

QAC’s General Manager of Operations and Safety Mike Clay said the $7 million project’s key strategic goal from the outset was to make a step-change in infrastructure delivery.

“We sought a partner who would deliver a sustainable, innovative, operationally resilient solution and meet the airport’s stringent health, safety and security standards. Once again, Downer proved to be a strong partner and the win is testimony to the foresight, innovation and hard-working team who delivered this complex project over an eight-week period at the end of 2018.

“Downer’s innovation and collaboration with other Kiwi organisations in pioneering a new generation lower carbon asphalt has proven to be a winner,” added Mike.

The project was a milestone in Queenstown Airport’s continuing sustainability journey, with sustainable alternatives - mixing recycled toner cartridge residue (Toner Pave) and beer bottle sand derived from crushed, recycled beer bottles - used in place of traditional non-renewable aggregates with no impact on the quality of asphalt. This innovative approach demonstrated how sustainable construction methods could help preserve New Zealand’s natural non-renewable resources and provide an important social and sustainability connection to the project.

Sharing the project with the airport community and visitors, and creating opportunities for participation and feedback, was also a strategic goal. QAC and Downer created an in-terminal experience where visitors could turn their ‘trash to treasure’. The interactive stand gave people the opportunity to donate beer bottles and toner cartridges and learn more about the project and benefits of TonerPave. There was also a bottle crushing machine so people could put bottles in and watch them convert to sand. Both companies also shared project updates, stories and videos on their online channels.

George Leidig, General Manager National Surfacing Operations and Plant, Downer said: “We are absolutely thrilled that through our partnership with QAC and working on this project together with innovative companies like Close the Loop, we have been recognised by the industry.  We know that sustainability is a journey and we hope that by using recycled materials we can deliver innovative solutions on many more projects, while helping to protect New Zealand’s finite natural resources.”

Fast Facts for the award-winning project

  • Over 55,000m2 milled/asphalted
  • 12,000 tonnes of asphalt used
  • 1.5 million bottles recycled, turned to sand and used as an alternative to virgin aggregate
  • 330,000 printer cartridges used as alternative asphalt binder product
  • 70,000km saved in cartage and haulage requirements by using an onsite mobile asphalt plant.

Queenstown Airport also holds NZ Airports Association accolades for Major Airport of the Year in 2016 for its runway widening project to enable after-dark flights and NZ Regional Airport of the Year (Wanaka) for its contribution to NASA’s super pressure balloon launch in 2015.  It was voted PrivateFly’s World’s Most Scenic Airport Landing in 2015 and has made it into its top 10 for a number of years.