By Keith Norbury

Five companies received awards this summer from the Prince Rupert Port Authority for their environmental stewardship efforts.

Winners of the annual Green Wave awards included first-time recipients Ocean Network Express and Pacific Basin in addition to previous recipients COSCO, Maersk, and BC Ferries, the port announced in July.

Shaun Stevenson, the port authority’s president and chief executive officer, said the awards are an incentive program that “reward best practices in environmental stewardship and the operations within the port.”

Active since 2012, the Green Wave program offers discounts on harbour fees to commercial vessels meeting environmental practices such as emission-reduction measures. The program employs a three-tier system to score commercial vessels on how well they control air emissions and reduce underwater noise. Twenty-five vessel calls in 2019 qualified for the top tier by meeting its strict criteria.

One of the measures used in determining the awards is RightShip’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rating. In 2019, 20 per cent of vessels calling at Prince Rupert met the GHG rating to qualify for Green Wave. In doing so, those ships avoided 5,020 tonnes of emission — equivalent to what 1,085 cars emit annually.

The Green Wave Awards are part of a larger environmental stewardship strategy that the port has been developing and implementing over the past several years. That includes a carbon strategy to reduce significantly carbon emissions from port operations.

“The nice thing about carbon reduction and port operations is they correlate to efficiency,” Mr. Stevenson said. “We already have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any port operator on the west coast, by nature of modern facilities and the efficiency we have at our terminals.”

The port is also looking at further modernization, such as electrification of equipment, he added.

“As we grow, it’s going to come with an impact — more ships, more trains, more trucks,” Mr. Stevenson said. “What we’re trying to do is reduce the intensity of our carbon footprint as we grow so that it remains relatively stable with where we are today.”

While the port expects to double its cargo volumes over the next decade, it is also aiming to cut the carbon intensity by half in that same period. “There’s a number of things that we can do,” Mr. Stevenson said. “But really, a lot of it starts with smart planning.”

An example of that is the new $115 million Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor now under construction. When completed and in operation in mid 2021, the 5.5-kilometre route will slash about 15 kilometres off the existing route that loops around Kaien Island.

“The connector road just means we’ve got a more efficient conduit between the container terminal and logistics activities involved in dealing with the cargoes in those containers,” Mr. Stevenson said. “By smart planning, we can reduce impacts relative to where they are today. But also relative to our competitors, we can do that quite easily whereas a lot of other ports in large metropolitan areas are locked into inefficient and disparate facilities.”