A revolutionary artesian heating and cooling system at Christchurch International Airport, and the first large-scale application of its kind, is now operating at the city’s domestic terminal and will also be implemented at its international terminal later this year.
Part of the airport’s $237 million integrated terminal project, the system was designed by engineering consultant Beca, which calls its creation a “game-changer” for the energy industry.
The system has already received industry recognition, winning International Project of the Year at the 2015 CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) Building Performance Awards.
The system uses energy from artesian water to both heat and cool a building at any one time. It also has the ability to recover and redistribute heat energy.
Beca business director Keith Paterson says the model is already being applied in other large-scale commercial buildings throughout the country and expects other countries will soon follow suit.
“It has changed the market. There are great benefits in terms of reducing pressure on recurrent costs and moving forward I think it will be the system of choice for all temperate climate countries. If artesian water is not available, then sea, lake or canal water could be an alternative.”
The system uses artesian water that flows beneath Christchurch and the Canterbury plains and the benefits are vast, he says. “LPG, diesel and cooling tower requirements are eliminated, maintenance costs and structural loadings decrease and the same energy is used for both cooling and heating, to make it around five times more efficient than standard systems. For every kilowatt that is put in, on average around five, and as much as 12 kilowatts of thermal energy can be provided to the building.”
Challenges, says Keith, included proving the water source was first available before gaining resource consent, and the corrosive nature of artesian water.
“To avoid failures we used plastic pipes, which had started to become more affordable. We were also developing a completely new system which is the first of its kind to feature this type of configuration, therefore the airport had to put a lot of trust in us but they were courageous enough to give the go ahead.”