The aim of being the southern hemisphere’s first carbon neutral airport company led to the innovative mechanical services design for Christchurch Airport's new terminal building.

Not only did Christchurch International Airport’s new terminal need to provide integrated international and domestic check-in, it also needed to be sustainable and energy efficient. The award-winning, internationally recognised artesian heating and cooling system lies at the core of realising this goal.

To help deliver the 26,000m² three-storey building, we provided mechanical building services design, plus civil and structural engineering. It has a combined international and domestic check-in hall, a full baggage handling system, aircraft gates, and airline lounges showcasing Southern Alps views.

Even with all this, the stand-out feature is the highly efficient heating and cooling system. Heat pumps provide both mechanical refrigeration cooling and heating and the system configuration allows artesian water to provide direct cooling via plate heat exchangers, bypassing the heat pumps when conditions permit. The system can provide one or a mixture of these three modes at any time. When required, all these modes use the artesian water to provide energy to the system or receive heat that is not able to be utilised – the core of the energy efficient solution.

Challengingly, the airport needed to remain fully operational during the four-year construction period. Yet 44 million people passed through the terminal and there were 300,000 commercial aircraft movements – with no incidents. Construction even had to deal with the ground shaking 11,000 times during earthquakes and being hammered by three one-in-100-year snow storms.


  • 2015 CIBSE Building Performance Awards - International Project of the Year
  • 2014 IPENZ NZ Engineering Excellence Awards - Building and Construction category winner
  • 2014 ACENZ INNOVATE NZ Awards - Gold Award of Excellence


Three-storey building


Earthquakes over 4 years


Value of project

Our Team Says

We engaged with Christchurch Airport’s facilities maintenance team right from the start so we could really understand their business needs. We were pleased the airport company adopted this revolutionary central plant configuration which is now the benchmark for Christchurch.

Justin Hill

Christchurch Building Services Manager

Our Client Says

We have enjoyed the collaborative and constructive working relationship we have built up, which has led to some fantastic solutions. Beca listened and responded to our needs and presented the options in a way that could be understood, debated and a solution determined.

Mike Parker

Christchurch Airport Terminal Facilities Manager

Our People

David Whittaker

Senior Technical Director - Structural Engineering

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Justin Hill

Technical Director - Building Services

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Letitia Drury

Regional Manager - Southern, New Zealand

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