Hong Kong International Airport gains CEEQUAL Excellent

Hong Kong International Airport gains CEEQUAL Excellent

Works to build a runway at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) achieved an Excellent CEEQUAL rating, as part of a pledge to be the world’s greenest airport.


The new North Runway and associated works is part of the three runway system (3RS) at HKIA. It is also an integral part of the Airport Authority Hong Kong’s (AAHK) vision and strategy to transform HKIA from a city airport into an Airport City. This project has become the first large-scale non-building infrastructure project in Hong Kong that has gained third-party certification of its sustainability performance. It gained a CEEQUAL (now known as BREEAM Infrastructure) rating of Excellent.


Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) is the statutory body of the government of Hong Kong that is responsible for the operations of the Hong Kong International Airport.


The 3RS project is critical for meeting the long-term air traffic demand at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) and strengthening Hong Kong’s status as a leading aviation hub. It is also an integral part of the Airport Authority Hong Kong’s (AAHK) vision and strategy to transform HKIA from a city airport into an Airport City.

The works under the Third Runway and Associated Works form a key component of the 3RS project.  The works comprise all elements of permanent works and temporary works required for completion, commission and operation of the new North Runway. The main permanent works include:

  • Construction of a new 3,800m long runway, supporting taxiway systems and associated works;

  • Infrastructure works;

  • Construction of ancillary buildings and facilities;

  • Set up of various airport systems; and

  • All associated testing and commissioning works.

The AAHK has striven to achieve a balance between economic development and conservation in bringing the 3RS project to fruition. A comprehensive environmental impact assessment was conducted for the 3RS and environmental mitigation measures have been identified for implementation. Beyond regulatory compliance, AAHK has initiated and implemented numerous enhancement measures, including establishment of a Green Airport Design Strategy to drive environmental best practices and innovative solutions in the design of the 3RS project components.


The benefits of using CEEQUAL included:

  • Managing the activities of the contractors that contributes to AAHK’s pledge to make HKIA the world’s greenest airport.

  • Facilitating collaboration between AAHK, design consultants and contractors to identify sustainable working practices / sustainable construction solutions for all stages of the project.

  • Providing a structure for collating and promoting sustainable design elements.

  • Providing a driver for thorough assessment of key environmental challenges, e.g. thorough assessment and modelling of drainage designs to confirm its capacity to manage increased rainfall events anticipated from climate change.

  • Demonstrating that the 3RS Green Airport Design Strategy of AAHK adopted since the scheme design stage of the 3RS project has been working well in driving the early consideration and adoption of relevant environmental best practices and innovative solutions in the 3RS project components.

  • Facilitating the adoption and subsequent roll out of AAHK’s airport-wide Green Airport Design and Construction (GADC) Strategy that is applicable to both its building and non-building infrastructure projects, including developments that are implemented by its franchisees and other business partners at HKIA.

CEEQUAL influenced the project by:

  • Providing the project team with a useful independent tool for measuring and improving the sustainability of the project.

  • Facilitating the identification of specific sustainability-related areas that require further consideration as part of the detailed design before its completion.

  • Providing a useful structured framework for the project team to define the sustainable construction initiatives that require focused input and efforts from the relevant 3RS contractors for delivery.

  • Providing a useful, sustainability focused framework for the client, design consultants, and contractors to work together in managing site-related sustainable construction issues and exploring ways to improve the sustainability performance of the works contract.



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A key strategy adopted for the project including the Third Runway and Associated Works contract and other 3RS works contracts on the new reclamation area is to move construction materials and workers to 3RS work sites exclusively by sea in order to reduce land transport related environmental impacts on local communities near HKIA, in particular from construction works traffic related noise and emissions.

With the resulting increase in marine traffic, it was also identified that any potential impacts from marine traffic on marine ecology would need to be mitigated, leading to the development and implementation of a comprehensive marine traffic management system.  AAHK consulted relevant stakeholders and voluntarily set up and managed an Integrated Marine Traffic Control Centre (MTCC) from project commencement to monitor locations, travel routes and speeds of all 3RS construction vessels, making use of vessel-installed Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment.

A Marine Surveillance System (MSS) facilitated effective real-time monitoring of construction vessel activities as well as timely follow-up on identified deviation cases.  The system automatically identified cases of potential deviation such as speeding over 10 knots within works areas and/or CWD hotspots, encroachment into specified no-entry areas, and/or failure to use designated marine works access gates.

AAHK is committed to avoiding the disposal of marine sediment, including sediment generated from the Contaminated Mud Pits (CMP) area, by treating the marine sediment with cement mixing and stabilisation/ solidification method for onsite reuse.  The fact that the marine sediment generated from the Deep Cement Mixing (DCM) treated area has already been effectively treated in-situ has facilitated the planned marine sediment reuse.  This key commitment made since the 3RS EIA has been delivered in the Third Runway and Associated Works and 3RS works contracts, with excavated marine sediment generated from the works being treated and stored in designated area before subsequent reuse.

The planned 2,400 ha marine park (the North Lantau Marine Park (NLMP)) is intended to link the current Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park and The Brothers Marine Park in North Lantau waters to form a marine park matrix of over 4,500 ha near HKIA. The NLMP will also connect with existing and planned Hong Kong International Airport Approach Areas (HKIAAAs), with direct connectivity with the existing Pearl River Estuary Chinese White Dolphin National Nature Reserve immediately west of the extended marine park matrix.

In addition to the marine park commitment, AAHK has continued to fulfil its commitments to enhance the marine environment for the benefit of marine ecology (including CWD habitats) and fisheries resources in the vicinity of the 3RS project area. AAHK established the Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund and the Fisheries Enhancement Fund in late 2016 with a total budget of HK$400 million.  Since establishment of the Funds, over HK$55 million has now been granted to 41 marine ecology and fisheries projects.

In addition to the two funds, AAHK has been pursuing a number of ecological enhancement initiatives on a voluntary basis since the commencement of the 3RS construction works, including the Third Runway and Associated Works.  These initiatives include coral transplantation, fish restocking pilot tests, eco-enhancement of seawall designs, artificial reef deployment pilot tests, and a shellfish reef deployment pilot study.

As summarised in the 3RS EIA report, alternative options have been considered early as part of the scheme design of the 3RS project, with consideration of the possible alignments, airport layouts, alternative design, construction methods, programme and phasing plans for land and marine infrastructure works. The final design options were selected only after thorough evaluation of environmental benefits and dis-benefits. The key driver has been avoiding and minimising the environmental impacts, whilst taking in account the operational and engineering requirements, site constraints, and other factors, including comments received during the public engagement exercises.

One of the key engineering requirements considered as part of the design of the Third Runway and Associated Works was the need to adequately design for future adverse weather conditions expected to arise due to climate change.  The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections on future sea level rise have been considered in the design process, including simulations of extreme tide levels, storm surge and worst-case wave activities. The analysis informed the scheme and subsequent detailed designs, with the new 3RS seawall and the detailed drainage designs under the Third Runway and Associated Works contract designed to withstand predicted future adverse weather and climate conditions.

Avoidance and minimisation of environmental impacts

A team of local and overseas consultants and experts was engaged by AAHK to conduct a detailed EIA which assessed the potential impact from construction and operation of the 3RS project on 12 environmental aspects, including aircraft noise and air quality, marine ecology and fisheries, and Chinese White Dolphins (CWD).

Environmental mitigation measures were formulated to avoid, minimise, and compensate for potential environmental impacts that may arise during the construction and operation phases of the 3RS project.

Some of the key mitigation and enhancement measures include:

  • Using Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) construction method through rock strata deep underneath the seabed for diversion of existing fuel pipelines to avoid disturbance to the seabed.

  • Using non-dredge methods including Deep Cement Mixing (DCM) for ground improvements in contaminated mid pit (CMP) areas and outside the CMP to minimise environmental risk and disturbance to the marine environment.

  • Managing SkyPier high-speed ferries (HSFs) by

    • Limiting the total volume of HSFs traffic at an annual daily average of 99 trips prior to designation of the proposed marine park.

    • Diverting HSFs travelling to and from Zhuhai and Macao away from the busy and narrow channel immediately north of HKIA.

    • Restricting the speed of those diverted HSFs to 15 knots or below in high CWD abundance areas of the diverted route.

  • Designating a marine park of about 2,400 ha to tie in with the full operation of the 3RS.

  • Setting up a Marine Ecology Enhancement Fund (MEEF) and a Fisheries Enhancement Fund (FEF), managed by independent committees, with a total budget of HK$400 million.

  • Establishing dolphin exclusion zones around potentially noisy marine construction activities.

  • Putting the south runway on standby mode at night where possible to minimise aircraft noise impact on North Lantau during the 3RS operation.

  • Minimising airport operation related emissions by banning the use of Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) at frontal stands, promoting increased use of electric vehicles and electric ground services equipment, and adopting fuel-efficient airside vehicles, etc.

Stakeholder engagement

AAHK has taken a proactive approach to community engagement throughout the planning, design and construction of the 3RS project. Since commencement of HKIA’s Master Plan 2030 preparation (MP2030) in 2008, AAHK has reached out to a wide spectrum of stakeholders to seek their views and explain the Airport’s development plans.  When the MP2030 was published in 2011, a survey was conducted independently by the Social Sciences Research Centre (SSRC) of the University of Hong Kong to gauge the public’s views about their preferred option for airport expansion. The survey results revealed that 73% of respondents preferred the three-runway option.

AAHK maintained ongoing and active dialogue with stakeholders during 3RS project development including during the scheme design and EIA stages.  Between late 2008 and March 2015, AAHK organised and took part in more than 1,200 engagement activities, including briefings, exhibitions, seminars, discussion forums, roundtable meetings, workshops, and airport visits with a broad range of stakeholder groups.  As part of the 3RS EIA process, AAHK specifically organised public forums to update the public on the 3RS EIA findings and the many mitigation measures intended to address the potential impacts from the 3RS project.

During the detailed design and construction stages of the 3RS project, AAHK continued to actively engage with key stakeholders via a Professional Liaison Group (PLG) and five Community Liaison Groups (CLGs) consisting of district councillors and other community leaders from HKIA’s neighbouring districts. The PLG and CLGs have provided a platform to facilitate communications and information sharing on all sustainability and environmental issues related to the 3RS project, including those related to the Third Runway and Associated Works.

To provide the general public with up-to-date information on the 3RS project, a dedicated website was established, covering 3RS works sustainability and environmental monitoring and auditing information, including project specific information on specific works packages including the Third Runway and Associated Works contract.

AAHK’s commitment to becoming the world’s greenest airport was incorporated into all 3RS project components, including the Third Runway and Associated Works package, via the 3RS Green Airport Design Strategy.

The Strategy drives consideration of environmental efficiencies and good performance early in the project cycle, giving a strong foundation for identification and evaluation of possible and suitable sustainable design initiatives for incorporation into project designs.  Benchmarking studies, including a review of existing green design practices at overseas airports, at HKIA, and in the broader community were undertaken during the early scheme design stage and informed the identification and selection of environmental best practices, green technologies and innovation for incorporation into the project. Appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were also established to ensure the later implementation of key sustainability elements in follow on works packages. The final set of planned green design and sustainable construction requirements and KPIs were then clearly defined in relevant 3RS works contract specifications, including that prepared for the Third Runway and Associated Works package.

Summary Airport Authority Hong Kong


Airport Authority Hong Kong
Hong Kong, China
Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, Powerchina Airport Construction Company Ltd, Paul Y Construction Company Ltd, Rock-One Engineering Company Ltd.
Colin Cartwright, Atkins
Version 5
CEEQUAL rating:
Excellent (86.3%) – Whole Team Award

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