Simon Hickey, Western Sydney Airport

Whatever you think about the sustainability or otherwise of airports at least the first runway at Sydney’s new airport will aim for “stellar” sustainability.

Construction of the new Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird Walton) Airport’s 3.7 kilometre runway and rapid-exit taxiways is set to start in 2022, and is aiming to meet a stellar benchmark for sustainability, according to the people building it.

Energy efficient design and circular economy principles will be part of the construction, which includes 3000 aeronautical ground lights and more than 40 kilometres of airside roads.

“We’ll be using recycled and reused content where appropriate during airfield construction, including recycled road base, recycled asphalt product and recycled glass as well as reduced carbon materials in concrete,” chief executive of Western Sydney Airport Simon Hickey told The Fifth Estate.

“We are building an airport for Western Sydney’s future which is why we are focused on sustainability and minimising the impact of the airport on the environment.”

Millions of tonnes of crushed sandstone from tunnelling projects across Sydney including WestConnex and Sydney Metro, will be reused as foundation to support the construction of the runway, taxiways and roads.

Individually controllable LEDs will be used for aeronautical ground lighting providing further energy and material savings.

Mr Hickey added that the “highly-efficient design” of the airfield will reduce the amount of fuel burnt by aircraft by slashing taxi and holding times, as well as reducing stress for passengers.

Emerging technologies such as electric and hybrid electric aircraft have also been factored into the design creating the potential for future upgrades.

The contract to build the new airfield was awarded to a CPB Contractors and ACCIONA joint venture earlier this month. The venture is required to deliver the project to an Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC) Rating of “Excellent”.

“Sustainability considerations are also front and centre as we build Western Sydney International’s terminal, with efficient façade, airconditioning and lighting systems to provide superior energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions,” Mr Hickey said.

“There are strong rules around the sustainability standards we must meet as we build Western Sydney International, but we are looking for opportunities to go further in ensuring the airport represents a commitment to future generations.”

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