EU-funded software project looks to reduce HVAC energy consumption at airports by up to 20 per cent
The software highlights a temperature problem (shown in red) in the air handling system
Mon 18 Aug 2014 – An EU-funded project is underway to help cut carbon emissions caused by faulty high-consuming heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) plants at European airports. The daily electricity and thermal energy used by a large airport compares to that of a city of 100,000 people. The three-year ‘CASCADE - ICT for Energy Efficient Airports’ project, with a contribution of €2.6 million from the 7th Framework Programme, is looking to reduce energy use and emissions by up to 20%. Nine CASCADE partners from Germany, Ireland, Italy and Serbia have developed new software and an energy action plan based on the ISO 50001 international management standard and algorithms for fault detection and diagnostics. Italy’s two largest airports, Rome’s Fiumicino and Milan’s Malpensa, are piloting the project.
Some 55 million passengers pass through the two airports every year and around half the energy used is consumed by the HVAC systems, so reducing this by 20% represents a significant reduction, said CASCADE coordinator Nicolas Réhault, who heads group building performance optimisation at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany.
Using the CASCADE system, faults can be detected quickly and automatically before the systems are damaged or fail, or too much energy is wasted. This helps airport maintenance teams implement corrective actions and improve the performance of equipment in the plants.
Focusing on the HVAC systems – particularly the large handling units, chiller plants and cooler towers – the project team installed hundreds of new sensors, meters and advanced data loggers at the two airports to step up measurement of parameters such as temperature, pressure, flow rates and electrical consumption. Engineers can then control and benchmark equipment performance and optimise user behaviour. Coupling this to fault detection tools, they have been able to correct problems such as in scheduling where equipment is running when not required, incorrect heating and cooling settings in different areas of the airport, poor positioning of sensors or actuators, lack of calibration or maintenance and unbalanced pipe and duct systems.
In the first six months of the pilot phase, the system has already detected some control and sensor faults in large air handling units that provide Fiumicino’s Terminal 1 with fresh air. It was found that just by implementing low-investment measures like resetting the controls or replacing faulty sensors, estimated savings of 500 MWh were made, representing around 3,500 tonnes of CO2 and €70,000 in energy costs.
ACI Europe is supporting CASCADE and has committed to demonstrating the results to its member airports throughout the region, and the project’s partners are hoping other airports will integrate the CASCADE software tool into their energy management plans.
“We are not targeting the whole airport infrastructure,” said Réhault. “Our objective is to save 20% energy on those targeted systems by optimising savings and with the knowledge we gain, we then want to replicate the solution at other airports.
“Airports are very complex infrastructures. We have gained a lot of know-how on how these infrastructures work. This can be replicated to other highly complex buildings such as hospitals and banks. And it could be downscaled to simpler things too.”