Heathrow 2.0 – a sustainable journey to the future

Heathrow tug graphic

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Heathrow? Come and meet some of the hidden heroes delivering a more sustainable future for the next generation of air travellers.

Picture a sold-out Old Trafford, every one of those 76,000 stadium seats occupied. That’s a lot of people in one place, right? Well that’s how many people work at our airport. And that’s how many people are playing an important, diverse and occasionally unusual role in making Heathrow a great place to live and work. One that creates a thriving sustainable economy, and a world worth travelling. It’s all part of our big plan for sustainable growth, Heathrow 2.0. Let’s meet some of the heroes making change happen…

Adam Cheeseman, Biodiversity and Local Community Manager

Adam CheesemanHeathrow wants the area surrounding the airport to be a great place to live, supporting sustainable communities where local people can shape their future. Adam looks after Heathrow’s 13 biodiversity sites which are home to a variety of flora and fauna.

What brought you to Heathrow?

I’ve always had an interest in wildlife, starting out with dinosaurs and fossils and eventually moving to butterflies and birds. After school, I did a course in conservation and ecology, and I’ve now spent 25 years working in that field (no pun intended!).

What is a typical day like?

Fortunately, I don’t have a typical day! My work is very much dictated by the seasons, the weather, and patterns of behaviour from the wildlife. But a big part is working with the community.

One way we’re doing that is alongside a charity called Green Corridor who are based near Terminal 5. Together we’re working with local children to teach them how to not only grow food, but to cook it too. It’s all part of being a better neighbour.

In fact, around half the people who work at Heathrow live locally, and many of them come out to help too, informing us of what’s going on around the site and what wildlife they’ve seen.

What hopes do you have for the future?

Hopefully in the future there will be somebody to take over from me with the same interest and passion, and you’ll be interviewing them here in years to come looking at the same field. Ideally in an even better condition than now!

Will you visit one of Heathrow’s biodiversity sites with The Wildlife Trust’s Biodiversity Benchmark Award?

Darren Smith, Fleet Standards and Delivery Manager

Darren SmithHeathrow is working to deliver fair and sustainable air travel for future generations to enjoy, including a zero carbon airport run on renewable energy and delivering zero waste. Darren looks after Heathrow’s fleet of vehicles.

What’s your history with Heathrow?

I started all the way back in 1992 as a part-time baggage handler with the airlines before working for the airport itself. And I’ve been here for about 8 years.

What’s your day to day at Heathrow?

I look after all of Heathrow’s vehicles, and as part of that it’s up to me to help make the fleet greener and cleaner. That’s proven to be quite a challenge!

But we’ve introduced a lot of infrastructure so that we hit our target that all vehicles that can be electric are, by 2020, including 75 charging stations – and we’re building more. We’ve already saved over 150 tonnes of CO2 this year and that figure will only grow. So the future of electrical vehicles is definitely coming!

What are your hopes for the future?

I want to continue to make a difference, to look back on my career and think ‘You know what? I contributed to that, I was part of that change’.

I want to look my kids in the eye and tell them they’ve got something to beat. Because I believe every day we should get better, and we should get greener. I see that as a future worth having.

Do you want to know more about how Heathrow is becoming sustainable?

Robert Donnell, Head of Business Development at Durbin plc

Robert DonnellHeathrow is working to create opportunities for sustainable business to deliver a stronger future for the UK, including providing grants for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) to spend on travel and trade missions. Durbin plc was one of 20 SMEs to be awarded grants in 2017.

What brings you to Heathrow?

We’re a specialist healthcare company serving customers from charity and institutions across the world to provide healthcare products that aren’t available in their country but are in the UK or USA.

We’re based around the corner from Heathrow and use it every day. We use it as an exporting hub to over 180 different countries to get those lifesaving medicines out to patients almost the next day. It really is our gateway to the world.

What’s a typical day like?

We might get a phone call, an email or a fax from a hospital in Africa or south-east Asia or south America saying ‘We have a critically ill patient that needs a lifesaving therapy or device. How quickly can you get it to us here?’ We can take that order middle of the morning. Thanks to Heathrow, by the next day that patient is being treated. That’s our real day-to-day interaction with Heathrow.

What does the future have in store?

We were really pleased to receive the grant from Heathrow to expand our business, and we’re using that to get to new customer groups in the USA and around the world. That means creating new jobs over here to ensure every patient has the same access to lifesaving therapies as we do in the UK, and emergency relief aid gets to some of the most remote places in the world quickly. And we’re saving lives because of it.

Could your small or medium sized business benefit from a grant for a trade mission abroad?

Kenna Hamilton, Engineer

Kenna HamiltonHeathrow wants to be a place where people can fulfil their potential, providing careers, not just jobs. Kenna initially joined Heathrow as an apprentice through the Heathrow Academy.

What do you do at Heathrow?

I’ve been an engineer for Heathrow Rail on the pods for two years, ever since I finished my apprenticeship.

The pods are the first autonomous personal rapid transport system in the world, getting passengers from car park to terminal. They’re entirely battery operated, don’t create any emissions and are much more environmentally friendly than other similar systems out there. They’re Heathrow’s way of saying to the world ‘This is an alternative – we should go forward with this’.

What were you doing before Heathrow?

I did a degree in Forensic Biology and struggled to find work in the biology sector. I started looking round airports for part-time work. I noticed they did an apprenticeship at Heathrow and thought ‘Why not?’

After all, there are so many chances here – more terminals, more opportunities to learn. If you’ve got a new idea, a new project, a new technology, Heathrow are willing to say, ‘That looks interesting – let’s see where it will take us’. They don’t just give you a job ¬– they give you an entire career.

What does the future have in store?

With Heathrow constantly expanding, and with new planes coming in every day, that capacity has to be handled. So eventually, everything will run on a train or a pod or a track transit system, and that will mean there won’t be as many shuttle buses and cars around the airport. And we’ll need plenty more apprentices making that happen!

Heathrow is going to create 10,000 apprenticeships by 2030? Will one of them be yours?

These are just four stories of the people who are leading Heathrow on a journey to the future. Find out more about Heathrow 2.0, our plan for sustainable growth, and where it’s taking us.