In the spirit of World Environment Day, Airbus is using both proven methods and unconventional techniques in a range of eco-efficiency activities at its sites - underscoring the company's continued progress toward targets that help reduce the air transport industry's overall impact on the environment.
Green methods are guiding the construction of the new A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France - which is reusing up to 10,000 cubic metres of existing materials from the site's previous taxiway. This reduces the volume of construction materials required from quarries. When it becomes operational, the assembly facility's 22,000 square metres of photovoltaic solar panels will produce an estimated 50 per cent of its own energy. In addition, an optimized energy management system - plus large windows and skylights that use natural light, not electricity - will reduce energy consumption and improve working conditions.
Efforts to sustain diverse species are also underway in Toulouse, where Airbus employees at the LagardÃ¨re A380 final assembly facility have installed a nesting box for a male peregrine falcon that has taken up residence atop the 40-metre high factory building. The box will provide a refuge for the bird, of which only 1,400 breeding pairs of this species remain in France. The falcon also deters pigeons, whose feathers and waste are a nuisance at the site. More than 130 other species have been observed at the A380 final assembly site by the French Natural History Museum in Paris, with over 1,500 birds documented and ringed since 2006.
At the Airbus facility in Nantes, France, hundreds of trucks that previously transported tons of liquid waste to external sites will be eliminated - cutting costs and CO2 emissions. This is due to the construction of a new organic wastewater treatment plant designed to reclaim purified water. The facility is part of a new 5000 square metre recycling park for industrial waste - double the size of the current structure - which is intended to improve conditions for storage of industrial waste, minimize risk of ground pollution and better retain liquid wastes.
In Hamburg, a former Airbus industrial electronics engineer-tuned-beekeeper is using these insects as biological monitors to ensure that the air, water, soil and plants around the Airbus complex are pollutant-free. Since May, six bee populations containing between 80,000 and 120,000 insects have been flying patrols near the runways, collecting nectar and pollen from flowers over an area of twelve square kilometres. The honey they produce is then tested for heavy metals, benzene, ethylene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) - pollutants typically produced by air traffic. As part of The Green Wave initiative, Airbus hopes to help ensure the survival of bees, which are indispensable to preserving biodiversity.