Green Label for Ships Saves Costs in Port


Published Mar 24, 2016 2:21 PM by Paul Benecki

As international environmental regulations advance, with new rules covering ballast water and sulphur emissions coming up soon (and calls in some quarters for regulation of CO2 emissions), some shipowners are looking to lead the way and get out in front of future requirements.

Voluntary green shipping initiatives provide one way for operators and owners to distinguish their vessels and highlight their emphasis on environmental stewardship. Listing and audit programs are common in many industries, with prominent examples like the Forest Stewardship Council for wood products and the Marine Stewardship Council for fisheries, and maritime firms also have several options to choose from, including voluntary green class notations.

But the non-profit organization Green Award offers an unusual combination of both environmental recognition and financial incentives for participants. Green Award-listed ships must meet regulatory standards – but they must also clear a higher bar for safety and for environmental quality, including additional requirements for exhaust emissions, ballast, anti-fouling, navigation in sensitive areas, waste management and end-of-life management (shipbreaking).

In addition to other benefits, listing with the organization conveys the right to claim discounts from participating ports and marine services providers – a financial incentive, and also a way for all parts of the maritime supply chain to demonstrate their values, says Captain Dimitrios Mattheou, the organization's chairman.

HudsonAnalytix, an American maritime advisory firm, recently became the sixty-fifth provider of incentives under the Green Award program, and the first in the United States. CEO Cynthia Hudson highlighted the voluntary nature of listing and the message that it sends. “As the participation in the Green Award program is entirely voluntary, the program attracts those who prioritize the protection of the environment. We've seen a clear signal from our international clients that this is important to them,” she said, adding that it is an equally high priority for her firm.

Captain Mattheou and Green Award's executive director, Jan Fransen, recently answered Maritime Executive's questions about the program and its benefits – for the environment, but also for the shipowner.

MarEx: Your certification currently covers about 800 ships. Could you tell us about how the application and verification process works? 

The Green Award listings include most vessel classes, on sea, river and coastwise trades. The application processes are the same for all. We ask the ship-owner or the ship-manager (on behalf of the owner) to apply for a Green Award certification for at least one of their ships. 

For the sea-going program, the Green Award qualified auditors carry out an office audit at the premises of the ship manager. This audit is always carried out prior to an on-board ship survey to ensure that quality procedures, policies and operations at the ship management company are compliant to the Green Award requirements. 

As soon as the certification for the Office Audit is verified, an on-board ship survey is carried out by a Green Award qualified surveyor on each individual ship enrolled. In the case that the office already possesses the certificate, multiple ships can be enrolled and surveyed right away. However, an Office Audit needs to take place once every three years.

Our inland shipping program does not require a prior office audit – the ships can be applied for and surveyed on-board without delay.  The requirements for both sea and inland have been developed separately in-house under the governance of over 25 various international industry representatives.

MarEx: Did the COP21 negotiations generate additional interest among shipowners for your certification?

The Green Award program has a broad approach in terms of quality, safety, and environment in shipping. It is rather difficult to conclude whether the COP21 negotiations generated additional interest from the shipowners. We are seeing more interest from the maritime service providers that participate as Incentive Providers, or businesses offering discount packages for Green Award shipowners. Recent examples include SIGNALIS, Alpha Marine Consulting, DYNAMARINe and HudsonAnalytix; we expect this number to grow strongly in 2016, especially in the U.S. market – but it's hard to assess whether the interest came from the attention drawn by the COP21 negotiations. 

MarEx: Has the recent downturn in the bulk, container and OSV segments affected the rate at which shipowners apply? 

Certainly, the economic downturn had an effect in the dry bulk sector – some ships have left the program due to this. As for the container carriers, there is still limited interest. 

However, we have seen a large increase in the interest from LNG carrier and oil tanker sectors, as well as from the LPG carrier market, for which a Green Award program is going to start in Q2 2016. Because of these positive moves, we expect at least a 15 percent increase in the number of sea-going ships and a steady eight percent increase in the number of inland and coastwise ships applying for the Green Award this year.