Green design helped the Norwegian airport to cut emissions while adding new infrastructure
As the aviation gateway to Norway, Oslo Gardermoen Airport has almost doubled in size between 2012 and the completion of an expansion project in April 2017. Despite this physical expansion, over this period operator Avinor was able to claim a 43% reduction in CO 2 emissions.
Taking a holistic approach and reviewing every stage of the NOK14 billion (USD1.4 billion) project for environmental benefits, Oslo was the first airport to be awarded an ‘Excellent’ rating in a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) sustainability assessment in 2017.
“If you’re looking for ground-breaking technology applied to the airport as a whole, you won’t find any,” said Christian Henriksen, head of the architecture and design team at Nordic – Office of Architecture that was responsible for the Oslo expansion project. “But environmental issues were on the agenda throughout the project. The aviation industry struggles with the fact it causes a lot of pollution, so as architects and engineers we could address that via construction ideas.”
A single-terminal airport was considered more eco-friendly than two terminals, improving connectivity and reducing emissions. Also, Oslo had already in 2016 introduced a policy of using 1% biofuel in all refuelling operations at the airport.
One major principle running through all Oslo expansion blueprints was to preserve as much surrounding woodland as possible. “There was an environmental aspect to this but it was also about creating a sense of place,” said Henriksen. “Untouched nature is how you identify coming to Scandinavia, [and] to Norway in particular.”
Also, the terminal now employs an extensive use of glass to retain free sightlines for passengers as they make their way from landside to airside, with views of aircraft and nearby woods. “Daylight 24/7 in the summer defines Norway,” said Henriksen, who added that as much natural light as possible is harvested during the summer months, with artificial lighting designed as a supplement to natural light.
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