The aviation sector delivers huge economic and social benefits. However, its activities also impact the environment through climate change, noise and local air quality.  Airports have an important role to play in this situation, as they have the possibility to implement initiatives to mitigate and avoid as much as possible these environmental challenges at a local level, engaging local communities in the process and adapting the measures to the particularities of the region they are located in.

An exemplary illustration of commitments and efforts to improve environmental conservation is the sustainability strategy of Kansai Airports. Established by a consortium with VINCI Airports and ORIX Corporation as its core members, Kansai Airports manages three Japanese airports in the Osaka economic area: Kansai International Airport (“KIX”), Osaka International Airport (“ITAMI”) and Kobe Airport (“KOBE”).

Throughout its history, Kansai Airports has implemented best global practices to achieve its goal of having sustainable and eco-friendly airports. As the operator of all three airports serving the Kansai region, Kansai Airports holds environmental protection as a top priority, as shown in their One Eco-Airport Plan, which integrates their Environmental Policy for all three airports, with emphasis on environmental initiatives to minimize the impact on nearby residents, ecosystems and climate.

eco-airport plan

The One Eco-Airport Plan (FY 2018 – FY 2022) relies on four basic pillars of sustainability management

Kansai Airports has also established an Environmental Promotion Committee to promote green initiatives, analyse and assess the status of target achievement and improve results. The Energy Conservation Committee promotes specific countermeasures aimed at conserving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Further, each of the three airports, has its own Airport Environmental Promotion Council through which they encourage cooperation, collaboration and promote initiatives with airport-related businesses.

The location of KIX and KOBE on artificial man made islands in the Osaka Bay has led to a requirement for autonomy and self-sufficiency, especially in terms of energy, waste and water management. In order to achieve these targets, Kansai Airports has implemented several schemes, such as the installation of efficient equipment, introduction of eco-cars and rapid charging stations, and the promotion of clean energy. There are several policies in place to save and use recycled water, including the installation of water-saving equipment. Waste is collected and segregated into categories such as combustible, PET bottles, cans, bins etc. and treated accordingly. In ITAMI, mowed grass from maintenance along the runways is used for feed. KIX also has an onsite incineration plant to burn non-recyclable waste and waste water treatment center. Furthermore, several actions have been made with the aim to protect biodiversity. Another interesting example is the installation of seaweed growing blocks at KIX along the airport island seawall, promoting the colonization of these plants and the creation of an important habitat for various marine species.

Kansai Airports’ environmental protection efforts can also be recognised under ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) programme. KIX and ITAMI were the first Japanese airports to be accredited at ACA Level 2: Reduction in 2016, followed by ACA Level 3: Optimisation certificates in 2018 for KIX and ITAMI and an ACA Level 2: Reduction certificate for KOBE. ACA Level 1: Mapping and Level 2: Reduction recognise that the airports are measuring their carbon emissions, that senior management has made a high-level policy commitment to the reducing emissions, that the airports have set emissions reduction targets and implement an action plan accordingly to show quantifiable emissions reductions over the years. ACA Level 3: Optimisation recognises that KIX and ITAMI also evaluate the emissions of third parties in their business value chain and actively engage their stakeholders in emissions reduction strategies.

In conclusion, during these crucial times for environmental conservation, the aviation sector has an important role to play and, in this respect, Kansai Airports is a pioneering example how airports can design and implement environmental protection measures and work towards total sustainability in all aspects of airport operation.

Envisa is proud to have supported Kansai Airports in this endeavour, having been part of their ACA journey in 2016 and 2018.