The Port of SEattle is ecologically active

The Port of Seattle did not wait to become a member of Green Marin to adopt sustainable development measures.

The Port of Seattle

The Port of Seattle has extended a welcome to everyone involved in the Green Marine environmental program by hosting GreenTech 2015 on May 27-29th. Green Marine’s annual conference provides an opportunity for maritime transportation stakeholders to share their experience and learn about new research, technologies and management practices to improve their sustainability.

“As the first U.S. West Coast port to join Green Marine two years ago, we definitely wanted to play a role in getting other American ports and terminals interested and engaged in the program,” says Linda Styrk, the director of maritime operations and a Green Marine board member. “We really like how Green Marine’s framework clearly defines environmental progress, so we’re eager to further build on the program’s international recognition by increasing the membership.”

The Port of Seattle had already been engaged in various environmental initiatives when it joined Green Marine two years ago. Tay Yoshitani, the port’s former CEO, set the environmental course in 2007 when he related his vision for the Port of Seattle to become the cleanest, greenest and most energy-efficient port in the United States.

Linda Styrk, Director of maritime
operations and a Green Marine
board member

A range of goals and strategies have since been implemented that include everything from port site cleanups to wetland restoration. Innovative approaches include using discarded oyster shells to remove the copper that infiltrates storm-water runoff from paved surfaces.

One of the major undertakings has been the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy in partnership with the Port of Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver. “Our goal is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of cargo by 10% from 2005 levels by the end of this year, and by 15% by 2020,” Styrk relates.

The port is currently focusing on reducing energy use at all of its owned and operated facilities, including the cruise and fisheries terminals. “We’re working at putting into place an energy management plan – as encouraged by the Green Marine program – based on recommendations from the Cardino engineering and environmental consulting firm.”

After establishing benchmarks for its direct kilowatt and Btu consumption, the port will identify means to reduce each type of energy use. “The biggest challenge is usually in terms of the initial investment,” Styrk relates. “We’d love to have more plug-in shore power, for example, but there’s a huge infrastructure cost to bringing power lines down to the shoreline.”

The motives for achieving greater sustainability are straightforward. “We want to live up to calling ourselves the Green Gateway,” Styrk states. “It’s important to Seattle citizens who partially fund the port through a tax, and increasingly to corporate entities such as REI (the equivalent of MEC here in Canada) and Starbucks.

“Besides, the more energy-efficient you are, the lower your business costs will be,” she adds.

The port has arranged a boat tour of its facilities to not only tell but show some of its environmental initiatives to GreenTech delegates. “GreenTech is a great way to meet our counterparts from other areas of North America to discuss how we’re dealing with common environmental challenges within our mission of facilitating maritime commerce,” Styrk concludes.