The airport authorities went public this morning with Genève Aéroport’s environmental report. The document details the actions in favour of the environment taken in recent years and sketches the roadmap until 2013. Over 21 million francs were invested for the period 2008-2010 for the various actions. It is planned that this investment will rise to nearly 34 million for the period 2011-2013.
As a major infrastructural facility of the canton, Genève Aéroport has to respond to the economic, political, diplomatic, cultural, and social development of the France-Vaud-Geneva region. At the same time, and like the airline industry in general, it is pursuing sustainable development objectives. For the airport authorities, this means in particular having to ensure that the impact of air traffic noise on local communities is limited and residents are protected from noise. Other important areas of action are limiting pollutant emissions locally and reducing CO2 emissions related to airport operations.
In practical terms, Genève Aéroport’s environmental policy means incorporating the environmental dimension at all levels and at a very early stage of projects, from their architectural development, at the time of tenders, in the specifications assigned to outside contractors, and also in the contracts.
This strategic bias is reflected in a commitment to consultation and communication with the site’s partner companies and agencies, with representatives of the airline industry, and with neighbouring communes. Representatives of environmental protection associations are members of an advisory committee. An environment area has been created inside Genève Aéroport and information is regularly communicated through the site www.gva.ch.
As for noise, it should be noted that steps are being taken at source to encourage airlines to serve Geneva with aircraft producing the lowest pollution possible and at the best times: this is reflected in the implementation of incentives and the levying of an additional fee for departures after 22:00. In addition, airlines apply noise-abatement procedures for takeoff and landing. Over the past three years, some 900 homes have been treated, bringing to 1,500 the number of homes soundproofed to date. About 700 cases are still under examination, while a start has been made on implementing a specific facility to soundproof homes in the commune of Ferney-Voltaire in neighbouring France. The number of people exposed to high sound levels fell between 2007 and 2010.
In terms of air quality, emissions are limited by the implementation of a whole range of measures. The model of an incentive fee on gaseous emissions from aircraft, levied since 1998, was based on a standardized European approach. New vehicles and appliances allowed on the apron are required to meet the latest emission standards. Particulate filters have been installed on existing vehicles. From 2014, vehicles more than 20 years old will not be allowed to move on the apron.
To limit the environmental impact of the traffic generated, incentives have been developed for airline passengers (free "all Geneva" Unireso ticket for arriving passengers, improved public transport service, etc.). An ambitious mobility plan is in effect for airport staff, which includes the development of a shuttle service for employees who work irregular hours, subsidies for public transport season tickets and non-motorized traffic, or the creation of a website to support carpooling contacts.
In terms of energy management, the emphasis is on moderation (energy saving measures), efficiency (updated lighting using new technologies), and the use of renewables (more than 1,200 square metres of photovoltaic panels have been installed).
As to water management, it should be noted that a general drainage plan is in progress. The sewerage system has been improved and water-quality monitoring is in place. The salt-spreading equipment for de-icing movement areas has been optimized.
In the field of waste separation, a "bag tax" has been introduced for companies and shops located in the main terminal. At the same time, new bins have been installed there for passengers and other users, in order to enable selective sorting. A new waste collection centre has been installed in the cargo hall.
Genève Aéroport’s environmental policy requires the facility to take cognizance of the issue of risk management. In this regard, a systematic survey and assessment of emergency situations was made and response procedures were optimized. Storage areas for dangerous goods in the cargo hall and export procedures were redefined.
The wildlife hazard prevention effort (including bird hazard, or collisions between birds and aircraft) has been made permanent and optimized.
While the airport site is defined primarily as an industrial area, it is paradoxically no less a natural area, with a flora and fauna.
Regarding the natural environment, a land-use planning and landscape management manual has been prepared. An inventory of invasive plant species has been made, as has a mapping of rare plant species. This fundamental work was reflected symbolically in 2010, in the context of biodiversity year, with the installation of six bee hives on the airport site.
Campaigns to measure soil quality are conducted regularly.
As part of noise abatement efforts, preservation of air quality and limiting the effects of induced traffic, and managing energy, water, natural habitats, soil, and waste, Genève Aéroport has invested CHF 21,000,000 over the period 2008-2010. An investment of around CHF 34,000,000 is planned for 2011-2013.
An electronic version of the environmental report is available.