Developing a Marine Vessel Environmental Rating System

March 1, 2009

The importance of facing environmental challenges in maritime shipping was highlighted in 2007, when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) selected “IMO Response to Current Environmental Challenges” as its theme for World Maritime Day. Two excerpts from their address to the United Nations frame the challenge:

There is today, quite rightly, a growing concern for our environment and a genuine fear that, if we do not change our ways right now, the damage we will inflict on our planet will render it incapable of sustaining – for future generations – the modern, industrial economy that much of humankind has grown accustomed to over the better part of the past two centuries.

As marine and atmospheric pollution from land-based sources is reportedly reduced, so shipping, like every conspicuous user of energy and every conspicuous contributor to climate change and global warming, is under pressure, as never before, to adopt greener practices and to do even more to clean up its act.”

Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General, IMO

As the maritime industry rises to meet these challenges, so does the need for a rating system to answer the question: “How green is green?” This answer is difficult to formulate given the breadth of vessel classes, mission profiles, and operating environments. However, a rating system would assist the industry as it works to develop and apply sustainable practices and technology. The development of such a rating system took its first step when it became an initiative at the 2008 Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Annual Meeting. This will be a collaborative effort utilizing the technical expertise of the SNAME Technical and Research (T&R) Program and gaining key participation from industry. Glosten is proud to have a leadership role in this project. The objective is to establish a rating system for ships similar to the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™. LEED is a third-party certification program, and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. This initiative for marine vessels will provide a standard ranking to determine the environmental impact of a vessel’s life-cycle during its construction, operation, and decommissioning. The intention is for this rating system to encourage and guide designers, builders, operators, and recyclers in their initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of marine vessels.

Full article:  Developing a Marine Rating System

Authors:  Timothy S. Leach, PE; Kevin J. Reynolds, PE