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Reduction of our own environmental footprint

Reduction of our own environmental footprint


In its efforts to implement new measures for protecting the environment, skyguide goes beyond activities directly related to ATM. The company takes the necessary steps to reduce its own environmental footprint by actively participating in the Action Plan of the Swiss Confederation.


Participating in the Federal Action Plan are the Civil Federal Administration, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS), the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH), Geneva Airport, the Swiss Railways (SBB), Swiss Post, Swisscom and skyguide. These companies, institutions and administrations set themselves the objective of improving their energy efficiency by 25 per cent by 2020 compared with 2006. To this end, 39 common measures have been defined, and a target achievement rate of 80 per cent is set to be achieved by 2020. In addition, each participant undertook to implement sector-specific measures.


In 2018, the group’s overall energy efficiency was already improved by 30.2 per cent. Skyguide, for its part, achieved, up to the end of 2018, an improvement of over 37,4 per cent, and is committed to continuing its efforts.


Energy-optimised premises

Technology for optimising energy use has made rapid strides in the last few years. When it opened in 1998, skyguide’s Geneva control centre was provided with (then) state-of-the-art, energy-efficient technology such as free-cooling facilities. In 2011, the company replaced the heating system at its Geneva premises with a new solution which uses the district heating grid of Geneva’s local industry.


The Dübendorf Air Navigation Centre (ANZ), which commenced operations in early 2009, is one of the newer generation of energy-optimised premises. In addition to construction features, the centre is equipped with movement sensors that save on lighting and air-conditioning, a centralised “smart” building master control system, waste heat recovery, and heating pumps, all designed to ensure that energy consumption can be reduced in all areas. Former lighting systems in ANZ facilities (such as data centres, simulation, hallways, reception, cooling and heating distribution facilities, underground parking, etc.) were changed over to more energy-efficient LED technology in 2016. The combined power consumption in these facilities dropped significantly from 395 to 118 MWh per year.


In 2012, skyguide inaugurated its new 3D control tower simulator (TOSIM) in Dübendorf. Called TOSIM Green, this facility supplements the infrastructure of the skyguide training centre, which currently has three tower simulators in Dübendorf and one in Geneva. Its projection system, which was replaced in 2016, is now equipped with LED technology, a measure that has reduced annual energy consumption from 11,9 to 7,1 MWh. Together with the savings achieved by replacing the projection systems of the other two tower simulators in Dübendorf, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, the total energy saving amounts to 12 MWh per year, which is comparable to the average annual electricity consumption of three households in Switzerland.


For communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, skyguide operates a radio-based system consisting of 600 radio communication devices and 34 transmitting and receiving stations all over Switzerland. In 2012, skyguide launched a project called “Smart Radio” to renew its entire radio system. The new equipment is harmonised nationwide, and increases flexibility while improving energy efficiency. By using a central, external power supply unit, the chosen solution consumes up to 30 per cent less energy. As a result, skyguide is saving nearly 200 MWh of power per year. In addition, the new system can be maintained remotely. Therefore, most of the maintenance journeys to the external sites are no longer necessary, so 13,000 travel kilometres are thus saved. By 2020 all main radio stations in Switzerland will be equipped with the new apparatus.


A major step in energy saving was achieved in skyguide’s radio and radar station at La Dôle in the Vaud Jura mountains, at 1677 meters above sea level. Taking advantage of the climatic conditions at La Dôle, skyguide renovated the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) facilities in 2016. They include an air cooler using free cooling, refrigeration machines and electronic controls for optimising operations. These measures have helped to reduce the energy consumption of the station’s HVAC system by 15 per cent or about 35 MWh per year. The introduction of green IT will further reduce energy consumption at skyguide.


Land use and conservancy

Some of skyguide’s facilities stand on the company’s own land, and some are on (or in) leased property. Wherever possible, skyguide adopts and maintains a joint approach to providing the associated utilities with the partners involved. These include airport authorities, Swisscom, Armasuisse, the Swiss Air Force and the cantonal police. Since it is subject to civil building permission procedures, skyguide also works closely with regional and cantonal environmental specialists and, on a case-by-case basis, with private environmental protection organisations.