Submission on Draft Climate Action Plan 2019-2022

Aerial Windy Point Autumn Esther Small 002

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) provided a submission on QLDC’s draft climate action plan on 30 August 2019. The QLDC plan can be viewed here.

QAC is a council-controlled trading organisation (CCTO) and QLDC is the majority shareholder of QAC (75.01%).

The contents of our submission is below:

Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC) is pleased to have the opportunity to provide feedback on QLDC’s Draft Climate Action Plan (2019-2022) (the Draft Plan). QAC’s primary role is to support QLDC’s overarching requirement to provide good quality infrastructure to meet the current and future needs of the district. We achieve this by operating, managing and developing the infrastructure required to facilitate air services to the region, now and into the future.

QAC supports the purpose and intent of the Draft Plan. We were an early adopter of Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Tourism Sustainability Commitment and an advocate for the Tourism New Zealand’s Tiaki Promise – Care for New Zealand initiative. We are also working closely with government and industry partners on the greenhouse gas emissions challenge in line with specific actions related to measuring and developing emissions reduction initiatives.

Net Zero Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

QAC is committed to doing its part to achieve the goals of net zero carbon emissions and net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

We are conscious of the importance of offsetting the impacts of our business activities at Queenstown and Wanaka airports on climate change and want to lead the way in our sector in this critical area.

We recognise the important role that we can play in the Draft Plan’s stated purpose ‘to build the district’s resilience to the harmful effects of climate change and transition to a zero carbon future’. We also support the proposed ‘collaborative approach with the community, partners and stakeholders’ and will contribute in this collaboration effort, working closely with all of our stakeholders to influence the wider airport communities.

We are committed to a long-term strategy of saving energy, reducing waste and reducing carbon emissions from our business activities supported by detailed measurement, clear targets and robust reporting. We are also implementing an environmental management system, which includes an energy management plan and carbon mapping.

Sustainability Framework

QAC will publish its sustainability framework later this year, which encompasses our environmental, social and economic goals. This framework is supported across the business and cross-functional teams are working together to achieve meaningful outcomes.

Resilient Infrastructure

Both Queenstown and Wanaka airports are ‘lifeline’ infrastructure assets for the communities served by them. QAC recognises the vital importance of maintaining these critical assets and ensuring their operational and environmental resilience for both day-to-day activities and as required in a major emergency response.

Emissions Reduction

We note that a priority action in the Draft Plan is to ‘approach Queenstown Airport Corporation to work on emissions reduction strategies’. We confirm that this is an organisational priority under our sustainability framework.

We have adopted a “Plan, Do, Check, Act” framework of continuous improvement regarding environmental sustainability:

Plan – As part of planning, undertake robust baselining and benchmarking exercises to ascertain where the organisation is at a current point and where others are for greater insights. From this information, the organisation can then set ambitious goals and targets.

Do – Carry out actions to support the achievement of the goals and targets.

Check – Measure and report on the progress of the organisation in reaching goals and achieving the targets.

Act – Make any changes required to progress further towards achieving goals and targets. Return to planning stage to establish new baselines.

Energy Audit

In 2016 QAC conducted a comprehensive energy audit to understand usage and develop energy efficiency measures that could be implemented at Queenstown Airport. The review concluded that, in general, energy consuming equipment at the airport was already well controlled, but opportunities for improvement existed. Through to implementation of identified energy efficiency measures within the terminal infrastructure, QAC was able to set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5% from 2016 levels, on a per passenger basis, by the end of 2020.

Innovative and Sustainable Infrastructure

In 2018 Queenstown Airport’s key environmental sustainability initiative was the resurfacing or “overlay” of the entire airside apron used for aircraft parking.

QAC partnered with infrastructure and facilities company Downer on an innovative $7 million project to resurface its 30,000 sqm aircraft parking area beside the terminal building, using a new lower carbon asphalt made using 330,000 recycled printer toner cartridges and 1.5 million recycled glass beer bottles. Downer pioneered the new form of asphalt which provides a robust, durable surface in all weather conditions. It is the first use of such a product on a highly-engineered asphalt surface in New Zealand. The use of an onsite mobile asphalt plant also eliminated the environmental impact of 720,000 kms of heavy truck haulage in terms of emissions as well as the wear and tear on local roading infrastructure. Follow the link to view a short video about the project:

The project paved the way for ongoing reduction in energy usage and emissions by looking at ways for the airport community to collectively minimise its carbon and environmental footprint, specifically to facilitate a transition from fossil fuel-based diesel to electric charging of ground service equipment in order to reduce carbon emissions. More space was provided to cater for the expansion of the electric ground service fleets in the airfield parking area and ultimately to provide access to electric power. A feasibility study will further analyse the best options for providing airside ground power at Queenstown Airport with a view to reducing carbon emissions and enhancing infrastructure resilience.

Water Quality and Drainage

At Queenstown Airport a drainage system collects all runoff from the asphalted area surrounding the terminal building along shallow drains circling the terminal building. The workshops, aircraft gates, fire response workshops, service vehicle workshops, power and fuel facilities located north and east of the terminal are within this drainage system. The drainage flows to an interceptor treatment system located south of the terminal building and then into two 20,000 containment tanks. Clean water from these tanks then flows to an engineered open drain that flows south and under Lucas Place. The drain can be manually closed off in case of emergency to contain spillage and allow for off-site treatment. This system is regularly serviced and inspected. The sewage waste water systems have also recently been upgraded at Queenstown Airport.

Energy Management System (EMS)

We are in the first of a three-stage, three-year Energy Management System process. Our goal is to progress through mapping, reduction and optimisation over that period.
We are:
  • developing a detailed management plan for both Queenstown and Wanaka airports, which includes carbon mapping
  • reporting environmental performance in corporate reporting documents
  • investigating innovative options for recycling of waste within New Zealand and supporting development of innovative technologies through commercial partnerships
  • measuring carbon emissions and completing a feasibility study of full carbon offsetting of the terminal’s carbon emissions
  • completing an environmental risk assessment of our operations
  • installing additional fuel and power metering to allow us to understand how we consume energy and fuels throughout our business
  • installing charging stations to service up to 80% of Queenstown Airport’s airside electric vehicles and equipment
  • conducting a feasibility study into substituting aircraft auxiliary power units with ground energy systems to increase energy efficiency and reduce emissions
  • conducting an options study into airport energy sources during 2020, including renewable energy sources and onsite sources, such as solar panels
  • supporting airlines in their efforts to minimise aircraft waste
  • investigating options for water use efficiency within terminal buildings and gardens
  • committing to identify and minimise impacts of airport operations on the quality of soil, groundwater and surface water
  • ensuring our environmental commitment is included in the roles and responsibilities of staff
  • adopting a whole-of-life approach to planning, design and construction of airport infrastructure, including planning and designing to maximise energy efficiency while using responsible building products that consider the lifecycle of products
  • offsetting all flights taken by the QAC team
  • requiring terminal tenants to adopt sustainable options for packaging and waste management

Integrated Collaboration

The Draft Climate Action Plan states: ‘Climate adaption and mitigation are becoming commonplace in strategic planning in the tourism sector. This draft plan proposes that the Council, Queenstown Airport Corporation (QAC), Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs), and the tourism sector work together to strengthen this approach through collaboration.’ (p15)

QAC fully supports this integrated collaboration and commits to playing its role in it. We recognise that ‘urgent action to combat climate change and its impact is required’, as stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We also believe that we all have an opportunity and a responsibility to be innovative, to think long-term and to take action. QAC is aiming to lead the way through its collaborative initiatives with our stakeholders and partners to reduce the impact of our business activities on climate change.