EF offsets emissions from airport lighting

Essendon Fields can proudly report it has offset 100% of the carbon emissions from the lighting on its airport runways, taxi ways and aprons, showing just how serious it is protecting our environment today, for a sustainable tomorrow.

General Manager of Aviation at Essendon Fields, Colin Fort, says that maintaining effective runway, taxi and apron lighting throughout Essendon Airport’s operations are a critical part of airport safety.

“Our system supports the safe movements or aircraft at night or on low-light days, so as a sustainable step Essendon Fields now works to annually measure and subsequently offset all carbon emissions associated with these essential daily services,” he said.

The Airport hosts an extensive and sophisticated lighting system, covering 12 circuits with each having electrical wiring up to 15km in length extending throughout the airport.

“This system has progressed a long way! History tells us that they used to use whatever was on hand to provide aircraft with illuminated guidance such as beacon fires or even fuel poured into long trenches. Or kerosene flares! When an aircraft radioed in the airport operations team would go out and light the flares, and once safely landed they would be extinguished,” Mr Fort said.

Today during operational hours, airport lighting is controlled by the Air Traffic Controllers located in the Essendon Airport Control Tower. At all other times, like other airports in Australia, the lights are switched over to a Pilot Activated Lighting Controller (PALC) system, where pilots access a discrete radio frequency in order to trigger the PALC and turn on the lights, which then stay on while they land or take-off.

Airport lighting systems are classified according to the intensity or brightness that they’re capable of producing: High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL), Medium Intensity Runway Lights (MIRL), or Low Intensity Runway Lights (LIRL). At Essendon Airport the North-South Runway operates with medium intensity lighting, while the East-West Runway operates with both medium and high intensity lights.

Essendon Fields Airport is the proud home of the State’s emergency services air wings. From daily surveillance flights to emergency response and seasonal fire protection, the activities of these organisations account for nearly a third of all aircraft movement at the airport. High intensity lighting ensures that during periods of poor visibility, pilots can see the runway when they are on approach to land.

“High intensity lighting is especially imperative for landings of emergency service airwings who simply do not have time to miss the approach in low visibility weather and have to try again. They need to land on their first attempt, as it might be the difference between life and death for passengers on board requiring urgent medical attention,” said GM Aviation at Essendon Fields, Colin Fort.

Planning Manager at Essendon Fields, Brad Evans, states that to date Essendon Fields have supported six certified climate projects projects. Plus in addition to the 10,000 trees planted on the Airport, Essendon Fields has supported the planting of an additional 1,062 trees across the country.

“Among the carbon offset projects Essendon Fields has helped to fund is the Coorong Lakes Biodiversity Conservation Australia project, which protects and restores the native landscape of the South Australian Coorong region, in partnership with the traditional owners, to produce biodiversity credits,” Mr Evans said.

Essendon Fields now looks to the future to determine the next initiatives that will support urban regeneration plans and reducing the overall carbon footprint for the airport.

With 1 million litres of rainwater storage currently the capacity, Essendon Fields looks to increase this to 1.5 million litres, and careful consideration will go towards the incorporation of water sensitive urban design initiatives into new development. Rooftop solar PV panels will continue to roll out as well, which will create significant power supply to feed back into the EF embedded network. 578 panels have been installed, with the intent to grow to 1500-2000 panels and a long-term view to generate over 50% of the electricity needs for the park from a renewable resource.

For more information about the commitment to sustainability at Essendon Fields please visit: https://ef.com.au/about-us/sustainability/

Photo credit: Justin Dessmann