On September 20, TAG Farnborough Airport has been named the winner of the inaugural Energy and Carbon Transition Award, part of the Sustainability Impact Awards granted by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). It is one of 19 award categories, with TAG Farnborough beating competition from six other leading brands such as Mott MacDonald and Aviva. The judges described the category as “challenging” and said some of the other entries could win in future, but had not yet delivered results in the way TAG Farnborough had demonstrated.
IEMA’s awards are designed to “recognize people and businesses that are transforming the world towards sustainability, with winners selected by a panel of judges featuring leading authorities in the environment and sustainability sector.” Miles Thomas, environment manager at TAG Farnborough Airport, accepted the award at an event in London, stating that it “represents another important milestone in our ongoing energy efficiency and carbon reduction efforts.”
Last year Farnborough Airport became the first business aviation airport in the world to achieve carbon-neutral status after an assessment by Airports Council International—Europe. Since then, according to the airport, it “has continued to make further substantial reductions in [our] carbon footprint, with a confirmed offset totaling 1,605 [metric tons] of carbon emissions for the last year.”
Over the past five years, TAG Farnborough Airport said it has invested more than £1 million ($1.25 million) into energy efficiency projects, such as a complete upgrade to LED lighting, and in 2018 it committed to 100 percent renewable energy supply through the UK energy regulator’s Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin scheme. “As a result of these projects, the overall reduction in carbon emissions over which the airport has direct control now stands at 73 percent,” it reported.
It also said it has “offset residual emissions through credible and certified offsetting projects, such as the planting of trees both in the local area and overseas, and the installation of a solar power system at a local school.”
The judges recognized that Farnborough had a “clear, well planned and executed strategy based on sound targets” and that the airport had adopted an approach that leveraged “technology, standards, and behaviors to drive change”—the result being it achieved carbon-neutral status “a year ahead of schedule.” While acknowledging the key role of CEO Brandon O'Reilly, the judge’s summary also said the achievement underlined “TAG’s drive to become more sustainable in an industry not generally recognized for embracing the need for reductions in carbon emissions.”
TAG Farnborough Airport’s 2009 Master Plan had laid out the vision for sustainability, stating its “intention to grow the business responsibly, in a way that considered all aspects of environmental impact and opportunities for sustainable development,” said the judges.
The airport achieved ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation at Level 1 in 2009; Level 2 in 2010 a 24 percent reduction in emissions; and Level 3 in 2013 when this had reached 37 percent; followed by Level 3+ in May 2018, after a 42 percent reduction—one year ahead of schedule.
The report also accepted the offsetting scheme claimed by the airport. “In 2017, it planted 3,500 native trees in partnership with eight schools; this project, coupled with a REDD+ project in Brazil, provided an opportunity to learn about environmental management.”
Before this year’s EBACE event in Geneva, TAG Farnborough Airport hosted “Fueling the Future,” a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) initiative. This saw several OEM’s bringing in aircraft to Farnborough and flying them on to Geneva using SAF blends. “The airport continues to work with industry partners to promote and facilitate this initiative,” it concluded.