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Certifications: Going Above and Beyond

Seaports and the vehicles and vessels that serve them are embracing the network of overlapping environmental standards that apply to their operations, and some are even voluntarily taking it to the next level.

* By Sarah B. Hood * 

Poised at the intersection of land, sea and sky, seaports touch every aspect of their environment, so it makes sense that marine companies are embracing the network of overlapping environmental standards that apply to their operations. In fact, many are going well beyond the mandatory requirements.

Numerous systems exist to help seaports measure their environmental performance. The International Standards Organization (ISO) 14001 standard assists organizations in developing their own Environmental Management System by specifying a process for control, goal-setting and continuous improvement of their environmental performance in terms of their activities, products and services.

The World Ports Climate Initiative (WPCI) is an international commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) specific to the marine sector. Wielding their economic influence on behalf of the environment, seaports are making use of tools like the voluntary Environmental Ship Index (ESI) to encourage measures to reduce harmful emissions from ocean-going vessels.

Green Marine, founded in 2007, is another voluntary certification designed specifically for the North American marine industry. Originally conceived for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence corridor, it now addresses environmental issues from coast to coast in North America through twelve performance indicators ranging from invasive species to air and water pollutants and waste management. To become certified, participants must benchmark their annual environmental performance through a self-evaluation guide and have their results externally verified and published.

“I believe that our most important accomplishment has been to bring about a culture of dialogue between the industry and its stakeholders on environmental issues,” says Green Marine Executive Director David Bolduc. “The upward curve in the annual results of our participants’ environmental performance since the program’s inception demonstrates the effectiveness of this voluntary initiative to benchmark and continually improve the industry’s sustainability.”

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