Managing Energy Costs in Airports

An image of an airplane taking off, with the sun on the horizon behind it.

Energy comprises a large portion of operating costs for airports—as much as 10% to 15% of these facilities’ entire operating budget. By implementing energy-saving measures, you can cut costs while also promoting a greener image. The measures detailed in this report are aimed at providing substantial energy savings with short payback periods. An average airport (a subset of the transportation complex sector) uses 19.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 34.7 thousand Btu of natural gas per square foot annually, with lighting and cooling accounting for 46% of overall energy use (Figure 1).

Average energy use data

Figure 1: Energy consumption by end use
Major sources of electricity consumption in airports include cooling, lighting, and ventilation as well as a large number of miscellaneous sources, including computers and cooking equipment. For natural gas, the main end use is typically heating.
Pie chart showing electricity end use: cooling, 31%; miscellaneous, 27%; lighting, 15%; ventilation, 12%; computing, 8%; refrigeration, 7%.
Pie chart showing natural gas end use: heating, 88%; water heating, 6%; cooking, 5%; and miscellaneous, 1%.
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To better manage your facilities’ energy costs, it helps to understand how you are charged for energy. Most utilities charge commercial buildings for their natural gas based on the amount of energy delivered. Electricity, on the other hand, can be charged based on two measures—consumption and demand. The consumption component of your bill is based on the amount of electricity, in kWh, that the building consumes during a month. The demand component is the peak demand, in kilowatts (kW), that occurs within the month. Monthly demand charges can range from just a few dollars to upwards of $20 per kilowatt and can be based on the highest peak recorded in the previous 12 months. Because it can be a considerable percentage of your bill, you should take care to reduce peak demand whenever possible. As you read the following energy cost-management recommendations, keep in mind how each one will affect both your consumption and your demand.

Quick Fixes
Longer-Term Solutions

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