Christchurch Airport environmental commitment

Through improved energy efficiency, and migration towards renewables, the airport continues to reduce its environmental impact, business costs and demand on the national grid.

Continuous improvement

Christchurch Airport is the second largest in New Zealand and hosts around seven million passengers a year.

One of Christchurch Airport’s three key areas of activity is being great Kaitiaki (guardians of safety, security and sustainability).  

Christchurch Airport has continuously improved its energy and carbon performance since 2012. More recently, with the support of EECA, the airport has completed:

  • Energy audits
  • A two-year continuous commissioning programme
  • Replacement of all fossil fuel boilers with ground source heat pumps.

The airport now continues to conduct monthly energy and carbon reviews using an interactive dashboard and aims to progress savings further with the use of building management system (BMS) data analytics.


Since the end of 2012, Christchurch Airport has achieved:

  • 7,500T of CO2 emissions avoided
  • Eliminated 99% of all fossil fuel heating systems.
  • 44 GWh of avoided energy consumption, worth $4.4M
  • 25% improvement in KPI (kWh/m2/month) since 2012
  • 38% improvement in KPI (kWh/passenger) since 2012

The airport now sees more consistent and noticeably more comfortable conditions in winter, especially in the Regional Lounge. The HVAC now swings less between heating and cooling which can be uncomfortable for occupants. In addition, maintenance costs will be much lower than business as usual, because of optimisation of operating hours and reduced loads on equipment.

Ongoing energy and carbon management has become a core part of business as usual as the energy savings realised pay for themselves.

Scope and actions

  • Full energy management package, including a type 2 energy audit and BMS review and the formation of an energy management team and energy policy, with full support from senior management
  • Continuous commissioning package, including two years of ongoing monthly reviews of the BMS and metering to maintain and improve energy benchmarks
  • Ongoing monthly reviews with the energy management team and reports to higher management to ensure energy and carbon performance remains a priority.
  • The energy audit and BMS review resulted in an improved control strategy that limited HVAC and lighting to essential operation only. The control strategy optimised the use of outside air for reduced mechanical heating and cooling
  • Continuous commissioning addressed ongoing issues of heating and cooling fighting each other, finding problems as soon as they appeared before they became a major problem
  • All fuel boilers at Christchurch airport have now been replaced with ground source heat pumps, eliminating the airport’s scope 1 carbon emissions and all fuel use for air conditioning
  • Energy, carbon and demand analytics are now reported on an interactive online dashboard which is monitored for optimal airport performance monthly.

Christchurch Airport managed the installation of energy and carbon improvement projects, including the new ground source heat pumps with support from EECA and Lumen.

Lumen conducted the ongoing continuous commissioning and energy audits and identified areas of opportunity, prioritising opportunities and developing business cases and assisting with implementation. Lumen conducts measurement and verification of savings and prepares monthly reports.

Key success factors

  • Commitment from the energy and carbon management team was critical to ensure energy and carbon stayed a priority, in particular continued commitment from Christchurch Airport’s Manager Terminal Facilities Mike Parker’s towards energy efficiency, carbon emissions reduction and occupant comfort improvement
  • Having in-house controls engineers made implementation much more cost-effective and regular meetings meant opportunities could be tracked.
  • Maintaining contact between Lumen and Christchurch Airport for the sole purpose of reviewing energy and carbon was crucial. Board reports were regularly prepared which kept senior management involved and EECA’s participation in monthly face-to-face meetings meant continued support from the government.
  • Higher capital cost opportunities such as ground source heat pumps eventuated and have been implemented. Monthly reports have now moved to interactive dashboards, with a complete database of historical and up to date energy and carbon performance that empowers the client to track performance.
  • The next step is to implement modern technology in the way of BMS data analytics which will find energy and carbon saving opportunities in real time, like an automated audit.

“We are absolutely delighted with the outcome of the ongoing energy management programme and the results have far exceeded our expectations. The challenge for us now that we have set the bar so high is to ensure that the gains made over several years are maintained and we see the introduction of the BMS Analytics software as a key tool in this process.” – Mike Parker, Manager Terminal Facilities, Christchurch Airport.

“The team at Christchurch Airport has done something really special over the past decade. Improving energy performance by over 25% and eliminating 99% of fossil fuel use in the terminal is an incredible achievement. The three keys to success have been: strong senior management support, a structured monthly energy and carbon performance review and the team’s drive for continuous improvement.” – Ben Thomson, Manager (Energy & Carbon) at Lumen.

“The results achieved by Christchurch Airport represent a model example of a well implemented energy management programme which has also provided the platform to achieve excellent carbon reduction outcomes."

Glenn Wellington, Senior Account Manager at EECA


  • A lot of different people and roles are involved when it comes to implementing energy efficiency measures. Lumen and Christchurch Airport have learned the key is to find a compromised solution all stakeholders can get behind.
  • A common misconception is that building design values are concrete and should not be changed. It’s much more important to tune the building to how it’s operating in present time and listen to what it’s telling you, and it’s equally important to help controls and maintenance staff understand this.
  • Involve key members of the facilities management team as directly as possible as this helps to incorporate all ideas and agree directives
  • Start your energy and carbon efficiency programme as soon as possible and keep energy and carbon a priority throughout the programme
  • Treat energy efficiency as a new revenue stream
  • Think of long-term efficiency goals to justify higher capital projects
  • Consider EECA funding to overcome the initial costs involved.

Co-Funding and support

Who else could do this?

Any large commercial building would benefit from a long-term energy efficiency programme.