At the start of this year, intensive construction of the new passenger departure terminal at Vilnius Airport began. It is planned that the first passengers will depart from this terminal at the beginning of 2025. According to Kristina Greiciute, the head of Lithuanian Airports environmental protection projects, the new terminal will be the beginning of a big change, and solutions will be oriented towards all areas of operation, including environmental protection. She states that among the most important expected changes are the reduction of thermal energy, improvement of energy efficiency, installation of a solar power plant, smart lighting systems, and reduction of CO2 emissions.
“We are constantly trying to improve in all areas and implement innovations. We aim to optimize our operations in such a way as to significantly reduce the amount of CO2 emissions and ultimately become a climate-neutral airport,” said K. Greiciute.
The existing status quo
K. Greiciute states that currently seven topics are highlighted in the strategy of Lithuanian airports, among which there are two essential priorities — noise pollution and climate change. Infrastructural projects, including the new passenger departure terminal at Vilnius airport, are linked to climate change mitigation initiatives.
For example, efforts are being made to implement parts of the planned environmental solutions related to electricity, thermal energy, and fuel consumption in various vehicles already, without waiting for the completion of the construction of the new terminal. The car park is constantly being updated, and the number of hybrid and electric cars is increasing. This way, according to the expert, fuel consumption is reduced.
“Meanwhile, when it comes to electricity, today we already have the opportunity to produce it ourselves because a solar power plant is installed on the roof of our VIP terminal. We also have the opportunity to buy green electricity, and this is done at all three air gates — Vilnius, Kaunas, and Palanga,” said K. Greiciute.
It is said that until there is an opportunity to buy green thermal energy from centralized heat networks, the only solution is lower consumption or self-production. Although the existing infrastructure limits the possibility of self-production of thermal energy, the new terminal will introduce technologies that will allow for reduced consumption of thermal energy. Speaking about green thermal energy, K. Greiciute said that the new passenger terminal will be the first object of this size in the infrastructure of Lithuanian airports which will use very little thermal energy. In addition, it will be possible to produce it with the help of special heat pumps.
“In the long run, the implemented technological solutions will allow us to switch to technology, when we will switch to green thermal energy production or we will be able to use the energy that we produce with the help of the solar power plant installed on the roof of the new terminal,” said K. Greiciute.
A special construction and the materials used will also allow for reduced consumption of thermal energy. According to the representative of Lithuanian Airports, the new terminal’s journey towards improving energy efficiency began during the design phase.
“It is envisaged that the glass partitions, which are being installed, are going to face the south and south-east directions in order to receive as much light and heat as possible. Also, more than a third of the external partitions will be transparent, made of glass. This way, the terminal will receive even more heat and light. In addition, the partitions are designed from high thermal resistance materials, so heat will be trapped in the terminal. In this way, we will be able to reduce the amount of thermal energy needed to heat the terminal,” said K. Greiciute.
She added that a portion of the partitions will also be made of materials that will retain sunlight, so it will not be too hot in the terminal during the summer, and the air conditioning system will require less energy.
K. Greiciute notes that in the future, a solar power plant could also be installed on the roof of the new terminal, which would increase the amount of solar energy produced. “Both the terminal structures and other engineering solutions are constructed in such a way as to ensure the highest energy efficiency. For example, the roof covering is expected to be white. In this way, it will be possible to install a solar power plant that will have solar cells on both sides. Thanks to this decision, we will be able to double the amount of solar energy generated,” said the representative of Lithuanian Airports.
The construction of the new terminal will reduce CO2 emissions per passenger by up to seven times. Currently, the old terminal generates approximately 200 g of emissions per passenger. It is anticipated that in the new terminal this number will decrease drastically – to 30 g/passenger.
“We have chosen to evaluate our emissions through the passenger. Since the new terminal will provide an opportunity to increase the number of passengers, in this way we will be able to reduce the number of emissions per passenger. Those possibilities were limited in the old terminal,” explained K. Greiciute.
According to her, every new facility, especially one of such scope as the new departure terminal, increases the total amount of generated emissions in the first year of operation, but the amount normalizes in the long term.
Smart lighting systems
Environmental solutions in the new terminal will also include the airport’s important lighting system. Smart solutions will be used for this, which will include both indoor and outdoor lighting. As K. Greiciute mentions, a smart lighting system means that it will be controlled depending on the building system.
“As for the interior, LED systems will be installed in the new terminal. Also, in those spaces where it is convenient, the lighting will be controlled by motion sensors. For example, if we have a room where lighting is not needed, and if there are no people there, the light will be controlled by movement. If lighting is constantly needed in certain spaces, then again – the need is taken into account. The lighting will be able to be of both stronger and weaker intensity,” said K. Greiciute.
Meanwhile, outside, the systems will be linked to outdoor light. Special light sensors will allow regulation of the external lighting of the building itself, as well as the streets and parking lots. It will be aimed that the lighting on the exterior is not excessive.