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Concordia link to Canadian airport first

Engineering grad’s lighting expertise helps Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport earn greenhouse gas reduction certification
January 7, 2015
By Scott McCulloch

Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport has an environmental badge of honour, thanks in part to the ingenuity of engineering grad Thanos Tzempelikos.

The airport is Canada’s first to hold Airports Council International’s Airport Carbon Accreditation for sharply reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Part of the honour came down to Tzempelikos’s role in the development of Trudeau International’s advanced lighting and shading controls.

“It’s great news,” says Tzempelikos, PhD 05, an associate professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “An airport is not just any type of building.”

ACI accreditation is granted to airports that significantly cut carbon dioxide emissions through better energy management.

Eleven years of improvements to Trudeau International’s heating and cooling systems helped slash greenhouse gases by almost 50 per cent, says Aéroports de Montréal (ADM) President James Cherry. “All of our expansion and modernization projects at Montreal–Trudeau during the past two decades have included an energy-efficiency improvement component.”

Concordia played a key role in accreditation for Trudeau International, North America’s second airport to gain the environmental endorsement. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport earned the distinction earlier in 2014.

Mentored by Andreas Athienitis, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tzempelikos helped introduce automated window shades and lighting controls throughout the airport, a project ADM called “ingenious.”

The airport’s southwest corner was first studied in 2006 using light sensors to monitor daylight under various sky conditions.

This initial phase yielded algorithms for shading and lighting controls, which were successfully implemented in the studied zone.

During the project’s second phase, 17 airport perimeter zones — areas with large glass facades — were improved.

“We thought it would be a good idea to have a demonstration project to see the impact of our work,” Tzempelikos says.

That collaborative undertaking, which included the Solar Buildings Research Network, ADM and Natural Resources Canada, addressed a common airport architecture problem: the prevalence of massive windowpanes which generate excessive heat and glare.

“In airports you usually need cooling, not heating,” says Tzempelikos. “The bigger the glass, the bigger the scope for energy savings.”

Tzempelikos says commercial buildings typically use cooling systems year round. Many have potential for energy savings of 15 to 25 per cent, depending on their types of window shading and glass size.

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