By R. Bruce Striegler


With one in 12 workers in B.C.’s Lower Mainland earning a living because of a Port-related business, it is understandable why Duncan Wilson, Port Metro Vancouver’s Vice-President, Corporate Social Responsibility, feels strongly about sustainability.

“Along with our mandate – to lead the growth of Canada’s Pacific Gateway in a manner that enhances the well-being of Canadians – comes a responsibility to balance growth with social and environmental performance,” Wilson says. “Port Metro Vancouver recognizes the importance of sustainability in growing the Gateway, which means we must continue to use our influence to address environmental and social challenges as we explore Port growth and development.”

The Port handles $75 billion worth of imports and exports a year. But its business is not just to deliver goods, it is to do it in a good way. The Port is committed to raising awareness about Port operations and developments, and to find solutions that support the economic, social and environmental interests of customers and stakeholders. Its vision? To be the most efficient and sustainable Gateway for its customers, benefiting communities locally and across the nation.

Assessment of sustainability performance

In June, Port Metro Vancouver presented its second annual Sustainability Report, an initiative designed to increase transparency around social, financial and environmental performance. Wilson says, “Our first report focused on aspects largely under the direct operational control of the Port Authority. Subsequently, our stakeholders told us they are interested in aspects relating to the Vancouver Gateway. With this in mind, this year’s report looks at both our own corporate operations as well as the broader issues across the Vancouver Gateway.” This year’s extended report has been well received by customers and the community, and acts as a basis for continued dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders.

“Our commitment to integrate social and environmental issues into our values, our culture, decision-making, strategy development and operations has been formalized through a Corporate Social Responsibility Policy,” says Wilson. “We work to ensure those considerations are demonstrated in decision-making processes and our daily work.”

Leading by example

Port Metro Vancouver measures sustainability performance through a Corporate Balanced Scorecard; the results are highlighted in the Sustainability Report. Wilson explains that the scorecard tracks Port Metro Vancouver’s performance in economic, environmental and social priorities, as well as corporate strategic initiatives. It contains a component that looks at the workplace environmental footprint, including energy use, employee commuting as well as broader port related issues, such as waste management, noise, truck traffic and air quality.

“Our employees are very committed to sustainability,” Wilson says. In June 2012, this commitment was recognized when the international human resource solutions company, Aon Hewitt, included Port Metro Vancouver in its Green 30 awards. The Green 30 list is comprised of the top 30 Canadian organizations whose employees are most positive about their record on environmental stewardship. “The Green 30 award is about how our employees see it. Together, we’ve achieved a reduction of energy consumption in our offices, offset our greenhouse gas emissions and diverted more than 7,000 kilograms of organic waste.”

Working hard to make contributions last

Port Metro Vancouver is planning for the long-term sustainability of the Port so that the entire maritime community can enjoy the benefits of trade. Reducing emissions from port-related activities such as ships, trucks and terminal equipment is a key component of making the Port sustainable. Its Air Action Program addresses these challenges by working collaboratively to implement solutions; for example the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.

The strategy is a unique multi-stakeholder initiative to reduce greenhouse gas and diesel emissions from port operations. Environment Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency have partnered with Port Metro Vancouver as well as the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma in this endeavour. The combined efforts have proven successful, being awarded with the 2011 Environmental Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest International Section of the Air and Waste Management Association.

Port Metro Vancouver is also working with marine carriers on air quality by promoting environmental technologies and practices. “Our EcoAction Program promotes emission reductions for ocean-going ships that enter our harbour, rewarding those which burn cleaner fuels or employ innovative technologies,” explains Wilson. An example is the cruise ships that shut down their engines and use shore power while docked at Canada Place. Port Metro Vancouver offers the Blue Circle Award to marine carriers who achieve the highest level of emissions reductions.

Port Metro Vancouver recently revised its EcoAction Program to promote fuel quality standards above the 2012 North American Emission Control Area (ECA) requirements. The new EcoAction Program will take effect January 1, 2013. “Since vessels will already be burning cleaner fuel, we’ve also broadened the scope of the program to recognize other environmental practices or standards they’ve achieved,” says Wilson.

Wilson adds that Port Metro Vancouver’s Truck Licensing Program includes increasingly stringent air emissions requirements. “The focus is to phase out older trucks, implement mandatory opacity and idling limits, and launch an awareness program. All new trucks entering the licensing system must now be a 2007 model or newer,” explains Wilson.

Port Metro Vancouver is also working with terminal operators to implement the cleanest available technology and to assess feasibility of efficiency improvements or conversion to alternative energy such as electric or hybrid technologies.

“We recognize the importance of growing in a manageable and environmentally responsible manner” says Wilson. “It is not just doing what’s required – but going well beyond minimum requirements to collaborate with our partners on advancing sustainability across the port.”