Farnborough Airport Going Green

{EAV_BLOG_VER:d8d8317f40d9f024}Tucked away on page 17 of this week's Star Courier local newspaper is a little story about our Farnborough Airport (FAB)

It starts:

"Planes from Farnborough Airport might be pumping carbon dioxide into the sky but the airport itself has been praised for its green efforts."

The airport has been awarded Airport Carbon Accreditation at a level coined as "reduction" level which the paper notes is "the second highest of four possible ratings."

Being interested in the environment around here I looked up the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme's website and discovered that "reduction" level isn't the second highest but the second lowest!

The first (lowest) level, mapping, is where the airport actually identify the sources of CO2 emission, calculate their carbon emissions, produce a carbon footprint report and have a 3rd party verify this, in this case the Carbon Trust.

The second level, where Farnborough Airport are now, is reduction which means they have successfully achieved the "mapping" level and have provided evidence of effective carbon management procedures. They have also shown that their reduction targets have been achieved, although what these targets are, we do not know.

The next stages that Farnborough Airport needs to achieve are optimisation, where they engage third parties in the airport in their carbon reduction, and finally neutrality, where the airport itself ultimately becomes carbon neutral over all the emissions over which it has control.

Whilst there's much back-slapping going on at the airport for their achievement, there's still a long way to go. As the airport's environmental manger states in the newspaper article:

"...our next environmental challenge is to develop carbon reduction strategies in conjunction with our tenants and service providers."

This is good as it will achieve "optimisation" level, although who the tenants and service providers are, I do not know. If this includes the old airfield buildings which are now part of the IQ Farnborough business park then I'd recommend somebody turns the lights of in the empty multi-story car parks at night when there's nobody there!

The main question that still needs answering though is this: What is the airport's carbon footprint and what is the carbon footprint of the flights coming in and out of Farnborough?

TAG recently won their call to increase traffic at the airport from 28,000 flights a year to 50,000. If you believe the figures over at How much CO2 is released by an aeroplane? then you can see that a small business jet, most of FAB's traffic, might emit 1.766 kg/km whilst the average CO2 emissions for a car are about 166g/km or, or, to equate better, 0.166 kg/km according to these figures. That means that, on average, a car emits ten times less CO2 than a small 9-man business jet but there are far more cars on the roads around Farnborough than there are planes to and from Farnborough Airport.

Interestingly, from a sustainability point of view, if you take another look at those figures you'll see that they believe fuel consumption of the light jet is 0.684 L/km whereas a car that does 30MPG achieves 0.094 L/km (By using this fuel consumption conversion calculator, this kilometres/litres to litres/100 km conversion calculator and a calculator. The same small business plane uses 7 times more fuel than a car and emits 10 times more CO2 - There are more local car trips than plane journeys but what is the average mileage of these cars vs these planes.
Whilst it's commendable that TAG Aviation are trying to make Farnborough Airport (FAB) more environmentally-friendly, there still seems to be a very long way to go. I'd be interested to know when they believe they'll be able to achieve a carbon neutral status for the airport but I'm extremely interested to see the figures for CO2 emissions from the planes and what they intend to do to rectify that problem. (Plant more trees?)

Air quality is another issue and I know that for a fact because I work within spitting distance of FAB. Some days the waft of avgas is overwhelming and i wonder what sustained periods of breathing those fumes in do to our health?