Environment & Sustainability

Dubai International is an efficient hub, whose two largest airlines, Emirates and flydubai, have young, fuel-efficient fleets featuring the latest technology.

That, combined with its geocentric location, which effectively reduces the number of required connecting flights, limits associated emissions. However, Dubai Airports continually strives to further mitigate its impact on the environment. Our ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of a clean, sustainable future in which airports, aircraft and all ancillary services are carbon-neutral.

The organisation’s environment policy and plan targets six key areas: sustainable design, waste management, energy efficiency, fuel efficiency (air and ground traffic management), air quality (indoor and outdoor emissions and noise) and transportation of dangerous goods/animals/perishables.

Activities to minimise environmental impact in the short and long term are being managed by a cross-functional working group that sets goals and monitors performance in a number of areas, including waste disposal, energy efficiency (electricity and fuel), noise and other potential contaminants.

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Environmental Management

In 2012 Dubai Airports continued on its journey towards improved environmental management and sustainability. The airport operator worked closely with the federal and regional governments, attending key environmental committees. Dubai Airports also attended the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 18) held in Qatar in December 2012, supporting the General Civil Aviation Authority as part of the UAE delegation and participating in the ICAO Aviation and Climate Change Seminar.

During the year under review, Dubai Airports undertook an in-depth review of the existing Environmental Management Plan to ensure its effectiveness. The review will be finalised in 2013 and shows Dubai Airports’ commitment to limiting both its airports’ impact on the environment while maintaining efficient operations. In addition, Dubai Airports continues to work with our stakeholders in implementing the requirements of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy and encourages all staff to implement sustainable approaches to work, including energy-saving measures, recycling and efficient and effective use of resources.

Dubai Airports also supports the Supreme Council of Energy in implementing the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030.


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Sustainable Design

Dubai Airports considers the sustainable design of its facilities an integral part of its CSR responsibilities. These efficiencies are already visible in Terminal 3, and the recently completed Concourse A, which feature:

  • Energy efficient lighting control systems
  • Use of occupation sensors
  • Standby power systems making use of sealed DC batteries
  • Elimination of diesel powered systems
  • Use of non-hazardous refrigerant products
  • Use of clean agent fire protection systems
  • Filtering of kitchen waste and other areas

The construction of additional facilities associated with Dubai Airports’ Strategic Plan 2020 will continue to incorporate designs, working in conjunction with developer DAEP, which limit environmental impact.


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Waste Management

As the owner and operator of one of the largest international airports worldwide, Dubai Airports is committed to ensuring waste disposal is conducted with best practices in mind. As such the company is actively pursuing plans to adopt procedures that limit its environmental impact. That includes efforts to segregate hazardous and non-hazardous waste; the segregation of waste water; and waste water testing.

During 2012, Dubai Airports stepped up its efforts to limit the environmental impact of solid waste, recycling more than 1,144 tonnes of paper, carton and plastic collected across Dubai International. During the year the recycling programme was expanded to include the collection of empty plastic bottles and aluminium cans across all three terminals for the first time.

In all, 903 tonnes of carton, 106 tonnes of plastic wrappings, 82 tonnes of paper and 53 tonnes of plastic bottles and aluminum cans were collected for recycling.


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Energy Efficiencies

As is so often true on the journey towards sustainability, transformation is the sum of myriad small but significant changes. Improving energy efficiency is a high priority and Dubai Airports is committed to upholding excellent service levels for airport users while maintaining the same or a lower level of energy consumption per passenger over time. Many initiatives designed to minimise emissions have the additional benefit of not only reducing energy and resource consumption but cut costs too.

Green business is good business and in 2012, Dubai Airports continued its aggressive campaign to conserve water and reduce power consumption across the airport properties.

Dubai Airports managed to cut its total electricity consumption by 6.5 per cent in 2012, saving 36,000 Megawatts hour (MW), or more than AED15 million, through numerous energy saving initiatives. This amounted to an annual CO2 saving of 16,812 tonnes.


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The initiatives included:

  • Converting to LED lamps for indoor and outdoor lighting in all public areas of Dubai International, resulted in a 753,5MW drop in consumption and a saving of AED316,000 and 0.352 tonnes of CO2;
  • A pilot project to retro fit LED lighting in stop bars and taxiway guidance signs cut consumption by 4,200MWh and saving more than AED1.8 million and 1.9614 tonnes of CO2;
  • The use of a new water treatment regime and online monitoring of water quality provided to chillers to improve efficiency reduced consumption by 4,536MWh and cut annual power costs by AED1.9 million or 2,118 tonnes of CO2;

At Dubai International the installation of flow arrestors and better monitoring across all Dubai International’s toilets cut water consumption by a third, saving 1.69 million gallons of water and AED7.8 million in 2012.

Dubai Airports joined other energy-conscious organisations across the world on March 31, 2012 to mark Earth Hour by switching off all non-essential lights across Dubai International’s three terminals and at Dubai World Central. During the one-hour event, Dubai International’s demand for electricity dropped by 16MW Megawatts from 81MW to 65MW, improving on the saving of 11MW in 2011.

In 2011 the company set a new standard in the region with the installation of the largest solar panel array for any airport in the Middle East. Thanks to the considerable contributions and support of longstanding partner Air BP, the array consists of 92 panels of high efficiency photovoltaic cells providing a 21.6KW capacity. Located atop the airport’s Terminal 1 Car Park B, it provides enough power to offset fully the energy consumed by the lighting and plasma displays in the airport’s historical photo exhibition. The installation has a lifespan of 25 years, and will continue to provide free, clean energy to Dubai International during its lifetime.

On the back of this success, Dubai Airports continues to explore ways to further make use of solar power and will roll out new solar initiatives in 2013.


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Fuel Efficiency

Dubai Airports has a goal to develop air traffic services, aircraft and ground operations that maintain safe, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable air transport while minimising the adverse environmental impact.

The success of the aviation industry in the Middle East depends on accommodating strong demand growth within an already extremely complex air traffic environment. In order to avert the capacity bottlenecks looming on the horizon, airspace constraints must be addressed through the development of a performance based, cohesive regional network strategy which enhances predictability and commonality amongst the Middle East’s air navigation service providers.

Dubai Airports continues to take a leading role in this area. Aside from its ongoing efforts to optimise air traffic flows and efficient operations, Dubai Airports is participating in initiatives to optimise the region’s airspace structure in conjunction with industry bodies across the Middle East. Additionally Dubai Airports’ SP2020 expansion programme delineates aggressive plans to leverage technology and optimise airspace capacity and efficiency.

In 2012 as part of these efforts and in conjunction with Dubai Air Navigation Services, Dubai Airports introduced enhanced arrival and departure routes to Dubai International using the RNAV-1 navigation standard to facilitate improved flight efficiency. Dubai Airports continues to work with our industry partners on further reducing the impact of aircraft operations on the environment.


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Initiatives in progress include:

  • The phase in of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) to facilitate more efficient use of airspace and more flexibility of airspace design.
  • Implementation of a next generation ATM system to pave the way for implementing environmental concepts and initiatives in air traffic management.
  • Initiatives to manage the flow of aircraft to improve predictability, optimise sequencing and minimise impact on the environment such as Airport Collaborative Decision Making, Arrival Management and Departure Management.
  • Through membership of the National Airspace Advisory Committee develop initiatives with other industry stakeholders across the UAE to strategically redesign airspace in order to cope with forecast demand as well as making airspace more efficient.

In 2013 and beyond we will further enhance flight efficiency by defining targets and measuring progress towards optimisation of aircraft profiles. We aim to begin calculating fuel burn and emissions and report on the benefits of our ongoing airspace enhancement projects.