By Cameron Jewell
14 October 2013 — Brisbane Airport Corporation has won the sustainability award at Brisbane’s 2013 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards held on Friday October 11.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the judges were impressed with the airport’s commitment to sustainability “across all levels of business, from a personal level through to clients and customers”.
“Brisbane Airport Corporation is funding more than $2.5 billion worth of infrastructure over the next 10 years. At the same time they strive to balance economic benefits with environmental impacts,” he said.
“Receiving the Energex Award for Sustainability in the 2013 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards is unquestionably a wonderful recognition for what the team at Brisbane Airport has been working on and striving for to date,” said Julieanne Alroe, chief executive and managing director of Brisbane Airport Corporation.
Business case for sustainability
In a previous interview with The Fifth Estate, Stephen Goodwin, general manager, operations said that the organisation had incorporated sustainable development into its business strategy as early as 2003 – back when it was thought of as something only done by “treehuggers”.
“Back then, most businesses didn’t necessarily understand sustainability,” he said.
“The fact that Brisbane was in serious drought” in 2003 was the catalyst for Brisbane Airport’s foray into the sustainability domain, he said.
It was, however, a business decision driven by increasing water prices.
“Water, as a commodity and resource, when it gets scarce, a price gets put on it,” said Goodwin.
“Before 2003, water was almost free. These days it often costs to get a glass of water from a restaurant.
“There was an incredible economic benefit in conserving water.”
Environment Manager Wendy Weir (currently on maternity leave) told The Fifth Estate that potable water consumption had reduced by 1600 megalitres, or by 70 per cent over a couple of years.
Ms Weir also said that the airport had already instigated around 20 energy saving projects in the airport, saving around 4.4 gigawatt hours of electricity a year.
The retrofits in areas of operational control included LED lighting replacements, lighting control systems and renewable energy generation.
All up, the airport has around 40 sustainability projects underway, with a heavy focus on energy efficiency. Expected savings are close to 7 GWh a year.
Ms Weir said they would investigate all options, including whether a trigeneration system and additional solar arrays would be viable.
Mr Goodwin said there wasn’t a dedicated sustainability unit.
“We’ve made everyone responsible,” he said, with the board and chief executive taking active roles.
There was, however, a dedicated environment team due to there was a focus on compliance and land use. This is in relation to the large amounts of biodiverse land around the airport site, and legal requirements relating to this.
Brisbane Airport this year registered its Property Development Master Plan for a Green Star – Communities rating.
Ms Weir said that the airport wanted to become the “natural address for companies seeking to be sustainable”.
Mr Goodwin said there was about 1000 hectares of developable land and they wanted to “think smart” about how they could go about developing it in.
“Putting money into building smarter makes economic sense,” he said. “Our plans look out 20-60 years. [Sustainability] is the space business wants to be in, and will probably have to be in.”