Auckland International Airport finds opportunities everywhere

Casestudytile AucklandAirport 001 SL B 201508 Open

A pioneer in energy efficiency, Auckland International Airport has found a new energy savings frontier in its 60 hectare business park. Over seven years, Auckland International Airport has boosted its bottom line and burnished its brand through an ambitious programme of energy savings.


In a quest for a 20% reduction in energy used per passenger by 2020, it is investing $3million over three years in new efficient lighting, water heating and HVAC (heating, ventilation and control) systems that have already cut costs, carbon emissions and improved the business’s bottom line.

Pushing outwards

That journey is continuing with new projects being launched in the airport’s terminals and other buildings. However, airport sustainability manager Martin Fryer is now targeting another energy-savings frontier.

The airport owns 1500 hectares of land bordering the Manukau Harbour. Most of that is used for core Airport business, housing terminals, runways and hangars, but spread over 60 hectares is a vibrant commercial hub, called The District. 314 more hectares of business space are still to be developed.

As the landlord of a The District and owner of its electricity network, the airport is seizing the opportunity to influence energy consumption among its small and medium-sized business tenants.

The District

For leaseholders in The District the financial benefits of energy savings are potentially similar to those enjoyed by the airport: if they could cut their energy costs, savings would go straight to their bottom lines as increased profit.

But those savings would also benefit their landlord: peak loading on the Airport-owned power line network could be deferred. That would allow the Airport to postpone investment in new transformers which can cost a million dollars apiece, Fryer says.

The “first cab off the rank” in the new programme was logistics company Tri-Star (see sidebar).

Leading by example

The airport company’s motives for focusing on energy are twofold: to build positive public and brand perception and a hard-nosed quest for cost savings.

Fryer explains Auckland Airport is the major gateway into and out of New Zealand. Over 70 percent of international traffic goes its terminals. It is where a visitor’s first and last impressions of the country are made.

“We have a very strategic location in relation to the tourism industry,” he says. It’s an industry that has benefited from a long running campaign selling New Zealand as “100% Pure”.

But projects have to stack up financially as well.

“Every project has to have a business case. They have to meet financial requirements.”

Sustainability mind-set

Auckland Airport began focusing on sustainability in 2005 and Fryer came on board to lead its initiative in 2007. The programme goes beyond energy too, with other projects addressing waste and water management.

“Having this sustainability focus broadens the range of projects the business will consider and we are more open to innovative projects,” he explains.

The airport is actively investigating how it will accommodate electric vehicles, for instance.

“That’s well beyond business as usual,” Fryer says.

Core investment continues

Meanwhile, Auckland International Airport is pushing on with new projects in its own facilities.

Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems across the airport are scheduled for upgrades as part of its $3 million, three-year rolling programme of investment. That will include upgrades to building management software and equipment in a dozen plant rooms.

Over the last two years the airport has saved three gigawatt hours of electricity and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 1000 tonnes. All-up, the Airport’s $3m investment will save two gigawatt hours of electricity a year and drive savings in the third year of at least a $750,000.

Fryer says none of the projects undertaken to date have had a payback period of more than five years.

“I’m pleased we continue to find energy efficiency opportunities every year,” he says.

Company profile

Auckland International Airport Limited (Auckland Airport) was formed in 1988, when the New Zealand Government corporatised the management of Auckland International Airport.

In 1998, the Government sold down its shareholding, and Auckland Airport became the fifth airport company in the world to be publicly listed.

Over 70 per cent of visitors enter or leave New Zealand via Auckland Airport, which handles over 15 million passengers a year. More than 20 international airlines serve Auckland Airport, Australasia’s third busiest international airport, after Sydney.

As New Zealand's major transport hub, Auckland Airport is investing in an airport and traveller experience that all New Zealanders can be proud of.

Auckland Airport is continually developing the capacity and services to ensure it will sustainably cope with an anticipated 40 million passengers a year by 2044, reflecting New Zealand’s growing popularity as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations. 

Key Facts

  • Auckland International Airport is investing $3 million over three years in its core energy savings programme.
  • It has so far booked energy savings of 13% per passenger since June 2012 and is well on its way to achieving its goal of 20% savings per passenger by 2020.
  • The airport has saved three gigawatt hours of electricity since July 2012, purely through projects inside its international terminal.
  • The core programme is expected to deliver savings of $750,000 a year.
  • Energy savings in The District business campus will allow the airport to postpone upgrades to its electricity network, including new transformers costing a million dollars each.

Sector applicability

Other regional and international airports, commercial property owners and property developers, small and medium businesses

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