With a pending decision over Heathrow Airport’s expansion and the level of attention local air quality and climate change have received recently, Andrew Chen has certainly had his work cut out for him in his first 12 months as the Emissions and Environment Manager.
Andrew works to develop strategies that reduce the airport’s emissions of carbon and local air pollutants. He is responsible for engaging with internal and external stakeholders including the local community to implement collaborative emission reduction efforts.
Setting the Scene
The air quality in some areas near Heathrow – and in many other parts of London and the UK – exceeds the EU’s health limit for the pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO₂). Although Heathrow Airport is a significant contributor to nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, the dominant source of NO₂ in the local area comes from non-airport related road traffic and Heathrow is committed to playing its part to improve air quality to help meet EU and UK Government limits.
Responsible Heathrow 2020 is the overarching strategy to reduce Heathrow’s environmental impacts, support the UK and local economies and look after passengers and people. The main objectives to achieve this strategy are at least a 5% reduction in ground-based emissions of NOx from the airport (from 2009) and a 34% reduction in carbon from energy used in the airport’s buildings (from 1990).
Achieving Rapid Environmental Impact
During his first year Andrew has developed the 2015 and now 2016 Emissions Blueprints for Heathrow. He has engaged both internal and external stakeholders to drive emissions reduction and mitigation projects at greater speed with more ambition. As a result, he has stimulated:
- Commitment from Heathrow's shareholder Board to invest £2million in electric vehicle charging
- Commitment from TfL to develop a collaborative, regional air quality action plan that covers emissions from road traffic, other local industries and supports local residents and communities to understand how they can reduce their emissions
- Improvement in the use of pre-conditioned air systems by aircraft operating on the ground (to reduce emissions from aircraft engines) by over 15%
- Trials of electric and hydrogen vehicles by a variety of partners operating at the airport via the Heathrow Clean Vehicle Partnership (which Andrew manages)
- Switching Heathrow's pool car fleet to electric
- Engaging airlines to switch to cleaner and quieter aircraft, including the restructure of Heathrow's environmental landing fees
- Leadership of a local Air Quality Working Group, which includes the Environment Agency and five local boroughs - and now the Mayor's Office to provide a regional view
Creating a Lasting Legacy
Andrew’s manager, Elizabeth Hegarty the Head of Sustainability & Environment stated:
“Andrew's engaging style and expert knowledge in emissions and environmental modelling in general have led Heathrow to a new position, especially with regard to local air quality.
“He regularly briefs Executive Committee members and prepares papers for our shareholder board, to improve their awareness and understanding of this topic and the key risks and opportunities for Heathrow.
“Andrew's personal commitment and style has brought a new level of interest and commitment to emissions related issues at Heathrow, just at the right time for these topics in our region and the UK. His professionalism has enabled him to lead very senior level meetings, which either our Sustainability Director or I would normally have taken responsibility for - meaning that Heathrow can engage more of its people, the airport community, local community, London, UK and aviation industry audiences on emissions related issues.”
Advice for Creating Positive Impact
“In order to set ambitious goals and help an organisation achieve its full potential in reducing environmental impacts, it’s critical to work in partnership with as many levels and areas of a business as possible to collaboratively set targets. This helps ensure a high level of buy-in and the amount of ownership and accountability necessary to achieve the goals that have been laid out. It also has the added benefit of increasing the understanding and awareness of environmental issues within an organisation.”
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