Genève Aéroport’s giant green roof


07.06.2022

Genève Aéroport is greening 6,000 m2 of roof space above its Baggage Logistics Centre currently under construction.  The objective of this landscaping project is to promote biodiversity and reduce heat islands on the platform. This ambitious project, which required an investment of 187,000 CHF, is taking place in several stages and will be completed in 2024.

Synergy of plants and solar panels  

Opposite the Arena, between the tarmac and the motorway, the workers are busy on the airport roof. They are using a machine that propels earth from the truck onto the roof. Two days are needed to spread the 150 m3 of substrate over this 1,330 m2 area. The first stage of the greening work of the future Baggage Logistics Centre (BLC) is underway.  This building, exemplary from an ecological point of view, will replace the current sorting system and will enter into service in 2024.


 
« The sowing is planned for September 2022. A few weeks later, we will see the first plants emerge, all native of the Geneva region », explains Naïs Imbernon, project manager, architect at Genève Aéroport.

 

« Within one or two years, the vegetation will be fully mature. »


930 m2 of solar panels will soon complete the picture in this area and will produce 71 MWh of electricity which will be self-consumed for the needs of the building. 

The combination of photovoltaic panels and vegetation will form a biosolar roof. Indeed, the plants make it possible to lower the temperature of the panels and improve their performance. In return, the shaded areas created by the solar power plant promote the diversification of micro-habitats on the roof and the reception of a greater diversity of animal and plant species. 

Biodiversity and heat islands

Genève Aéroport is multiplying initiatives to promote environmental protection on the platform and limit its carbon footprint. Several green roofs are already present on the airport site, representing a total area of approximately 4,000 m2. 

 

« The objective is to promote biodiversity and fight against heat islands in the southern sector of the airport », states Louise Gilbert, environmental project manager


It should be noted that during heat waves, the temperature can reach more than 50°C on the tarmac. Flowers, trees and shrubs help cool the air and lower the temperature. Rainwater retention is also improved through the various plants.


Beyond the purely environmental aspect, the new green roofs will improve the working environment for employees working in adjacent buildings. They will also be visible to passengers using the East Wing. 

Extensive and exemplary vegetation


Mid-June, an area of 2,666 m2, wedged between the new East Wing and the IATA building, will be developed. Genève Aéroport has obtained a cantonal grant of 93,000 CHF from the Nature en Ville programme for this area. In 2024, the last roof of the BLC (1,945 m2), located opposite the Terminal 1 esplanade, will be green.  

Interview with Delia Fontaine, Head of the Nature en Ville programme, Land Department (Canton of Geneva)

What is the Nature en Ville programme all about?
Nature en Ville aims to promote, in the canton of Geneva, the presence of biodiversity in urban spaces by developing environments favourable to native flora and fauna. Nature is a winner, but so is the quality of our living environment. It supports and accompanies very diverse projects: urban vegetable gardens, flower meadows, etc.

What is the benefit of the BLC revegetation project for the canton?
The greening of buildings is a very interesting measure in the context of urbanisation because it recreates environments favourable to biodiversity that have been lost. Sometimes rare or endangered species reappear. Eventually, we can hope to find in these spaces, in addition to a diversified flora, beetles, butterflies, wild bees, a whole cohort of essential pollinators. The more sites there are, even small ones, the more effective it is thanks to a network effect!

Even on the roof of an airport?
Yes, off course! The BLC ROOF surface is important and therefore interesting. It is also a few metres from the airport’s flower meadows, which already host a great wealth of flora, including rare and endangered species. We can therefore expect to find quite quickly a rich biodiversity that will be beneficial for our canton.





Especially since, for this area, Genève Aéroport has met all the criteria for so-called « exemplary » vegetation, such as:
-    the quality and thickness of the substrate, 
-    sowing with indigenous seeds, 
-    the establishment of structures favourable to biodiversity (small mounds, piles of stones, piles of dead wood).

A new sorting centre in 2024

The new Baggage Logistics Centre will enter into service in 2024. Its goal is:
•    to replace the current sorting system (due to the obsolescence of several pieces of equipment)
•    to meet increased baggage handling needs 
•    to comply with security standards with the installation of the latest generation scanners (EDS3).



The building and the industrial equipment have been designed according to a global energy concept making it possible to cover, after connection to the GeniLac thermal network, 90% of its thermal needs. In addition, one hundred geothermal probes are installed underground. 

This project is particularly complex since it is taking place while the airport is in operation. It was a year late due to the pandemic.  Be that as it may, the constructed envelopes are now almost complete, half of the « Arrival » baggage delivery belts are completed. Some of the new check-in counters in the main terminal are in place and 20% of the conveyor belts have been completed. Finally, the eight scanners are installed with the first operations scheduled for the summer of 2022. 


 

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