Five years of the Green Port Policy – the Long Beach Port transformed

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Submitted by the Port of Long Beach

The Port of Long Beach’s transformation into an environmental leader among seaports worldwide began five years ago this month with approval of the Green Port Policy.

The Port had been pursuing environmental programs, but the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners wanted more. It was time to firmly establish the commitment to cleaner, environmentally sustainable operations – to ensure that the Port would pursue both economic vitality and reduce its environmental impact.

In the five years since the policy’s guiding principles were set down, the Port and its partners have amassed an impressive record of environmental accomplishments expected to grow as the Port continues to work to protect the community and wildlife from the environmental effects of its operations.

“We embarked upon an ambitious journey five years ago, and we’ve made a great deal of progress along the way thanks to the support of our many stakeholders,” said Port Executive Director Richard D. Steinke. “We’re embedding a culture of sustainability at the Port, developing cost-saving practices and conserving resources so this can be a more prosperous, greener port now and in the future.”

The Policy, approved January 31, 2005, has led to dramatic decreases in emissions of air pollution in the goods movement industry, the protection of coastal habitats and the instilling of sustainable practices into day-to-day Port operations.

There are many accomplishments:

  • The San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan, adopted in 2006, set a goal of 45 percent air pollution by 2012. The plan addresses every machine that moves cargo in the Port, from cranes to ships to trucks. Using the latest available figures, the result so far is a 21 percent reduction in diesel pollution from 2005 to 2008.
  • The Clean Trucks Program reduced truck pollution by nearly 80 percent on January 2010, nearly two years ahead of schedule. The program works by the large-scale replacement of the Port’s trucking fleet.
  • The Port’s switching railroad, Pacific Harbor Line, has completed a transformation of its fleet of more than 20 locomotives, swapping out all the old ones for new clean-diesel engines.
  • Shore power, which allows ships to shut down diesel engines and plug into clean electricity while at berth, is being installed. The Port’s first container berth with shore power opened in 2008, and the world’s first oil tanker berth with shore power was dedicated in 2009. There’s more to come. By 2014, 50 percent of container ships will be required to plug in.
  • The Port’s Green Flag Program has achieved more than 90 percent participation, with cargo ships voluntarily slowing down to reduce emissions within 20 to 40 miles of the Port.
  • Terminal operators are signing “Green Leases,” which require cleaner yard equipment and other measures to reduce environmental impacts.
  • Even terminal construction developments are guided by the Green Port Policy. For example the modernization of the Middle Harbor will transform two aging docks into a new terminal that can handle twice the cargo with half the air pollution.
  • Environmental standards are part of the boom in the construction of sustainable Port buildings with energy efficiency, natural light use, drought-tolerant landscaping and recycled building materials. The Port’s new headquarters will be built to achieve the highest rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.
  • The Port of Long Beach and its neighbor, the Port of Los Angeles, combined to create a comprehensive strategy to protect water and sediment quality in the bay.
  • To govern its internal business practices, the Port instituted an “environmental management system” for purchasing and other operations to create a culture of sustainability.
  • And to let the community know what the Port is doing, the Port conducts extensive community outreach, including the annual Green Port Fest that draws more than 10,000 visitors, participation in various community events, the “Let’s Talk Port” series of informal meetings around town, social media outreach and more.

As well as a pioneer in goods movement, the Port has become a trailblazing environmental steward, aggressively and creatively addressing the impacts from ships, trucks, trains, tugs, cargo-handling equipment. It’s a record the Port is proud of, and one it will continue to work to improve.

The Port of Long Beach is the nation’s second largest seaport and a recognized leader in the goods movement industry worldwide. More than $120 billion in trade – about 5 million TEUs – flowed through the Port in 2009. The Port plans about $2.6 billion in capital improvements in the next decade.

The Green Port Policy is based on five guiding principles:

  • Protect the community from harmful impacts of Port operations
  • Distinguish the Port as a leader in environmental stewardship
  • Promote sustainability
  • Employ best available technology
  • Engage and educate the community

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