Port Metro Vancouver draws on a wide range of tools to mitigate the effects of port activities on the environment and local communities within the Gateway. These tools combine long-standing programs and standard processes such as habitat banking and project reviews with newer, more collaborative initiatives involving the participation of industry and community partners. The commitment of the Port’s staff to these programs was recognized this spring as one of Aon Hewitt’s “Green 30”, the top 30 Canadian organizations whose employees are most positive about their record on environmental stewardship. Work has continued through the past year, with a significant focus on air-related programs as well as in the habitat banking program.

One of the Port’s key initiatives is its Air Action Program, which provides collaborative strategies for reducing emissions of criteria contaminants and greenhouse gases through technology and operational efficiencies. A pillar of this program is the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy. A collaborative strategy between the ports of Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle as well as industry partners, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders, this program sets emission reduction targets for each port-related sector including ocean going vessels, harbour crafts, cargo handling equipment, trucks, locomotives and port administration.

The strategy is currently being updated, proposing stringent overall emission reduction goals in addition to sector targets. Goals proposed include a reduction in diesel particulate matter per tonne of cargo by 75 per cent and greenhouse gases reduced per tonne of cargo by 10 per cent by 2015. Additional goals are set for 2020. Comments submitted by stakeholders and the public over the summer are currently under review, following which the final version of the update will be completed, likely in early 2014.

The EcoAction Program is another Air Action initiative. A voluntary incentive program, the program qualifies vessels for reductions in harbour dues depending on which emissions-reduction measures they adopt. These include the use of cleaner fuel, smoke-stack technology and shore power at the Canada Place cruise terminal, among other options. Those most successful in terms of program participation are eligible for Port Metro Vancouver’s annual Blue Circle Award. Nine recipients received the award for 2012.

Our Blue Circle Award recognizes EcoAction Program participants that achieve the highest emissions reductions for the year. The current recipients of the award are:

• APL (Canada)
• Grieg Star Shipping (Canada) Ltd.
• Hapag-Lloyd (Canada) Inc.
• Holland America Line
• “K” Line
• Maersk Line
• Princess Cruises
• Silversea Cruises
• Westwood Shipping Lines

Landside, the Port has also initiated a series of both mandatory and voluntary standards. Under the mandatory Truck Licensing System (TLS), the entire fleet of Port-associated container trucks is being moved to the 2007 or newer engine platform, which is the cleanest platform in terms of particulate matter emissions. The Port’s container truck fleet is already subject to mandatory annual safety inspections in addition to any inspections mandated by the provincial government.

Work is also underway on a non-road diesel emission reduction initiative.

“We’re setting it up now,” says the Port’s Director of Environmental Programs, Darrell Desjardin. “We’ve done an inventory of all cargo handling equipment, in consultation with terminal operators, and our target is to launch a related initiative in the coming years.” The program is targeting older equipment with higher rates of emissions.

Habitat Banking Program Adding to Ecosystem

The Habitat Banking Program has been very active over the past year, continuing a long-term tradition of banking and creating habitat in advance of port development. Several salt marsh restoration projects are currently under way.

“Creating habitats ahead of a development project, allows for the habitat to properly mature and become functional,” says Desjardin. “This leads to the success of the habitat.” He adds that several larger projects will be rolled out in 2014.

As for the future orientation of Port Metro Vancouver’s environmental strategy, Desjardin says the focus will evolve out of the feedback on the 2012 Sustainability Report and the strategies devised as a part of the Port’s planned Sustainability Vision.

“Our focus will most likely be maintained on the Air Action Program,” he says, “but there also seems to be more interest from our stakeholders in biodiversity and local environmental values, as well as our accountability on better reporting throughout the year. Any programs we initiate will reflect those interests.”