Plugged In

The Port of New Orleans races ahead in environmental sustainability *Port Record Summer 2015

The Port of New Orleans reignited its commitment to environmentally sustainable practices two years ago. In that brief time, major goals have been accomplished and two recent successes show it’s on a winning streak.

In July the Port of New Orleans launched the first public fleet of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles in the state of Louisiana. This innovative move is a result of efforts focused on reducing greenhouse gasses and air pollutants.

The Nissan Leaf car is 100 percent electric and has zero emissions. It averages 100 miles of travel for each full charge. Nissan donated two charging stations to the Port, which were installed in the fleet parking lot. The two vehicles serve Port employees who travel the wharfs, canal and metro New Orleans on Port business, and replace older vehicles with clean, zero-emission transportation. Specially branded detailing was added to the cars to highlight their features.

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The Port held a special training for employees who access the motor pool to acquaint them with the special features of the electric cars. They were shown not only how to operate the vehicles, but also how to put them on and off the charging stations.

“Adding the two electric cars to the Port fleet of vehicles is a big gain for us toward our clean air strategy,” says Ryan Bylsma, Port Manager of Facility Services. “We’re grateful for the leadership and support of the Board of Commissioners, Nissan, the Regional Planning Commission, and all Port staff involved in procuring the vehicles.”

The Port will be leasing the cars for four years through its capital equipment budget. At the end of the lease term, the Port plans to replace the cars with newer models. Additionally, there are plans to eventually replace two conventional sedans currently in the Port’s fleet with hybrid model vehicles. Furthering the work of the clean air strategy. The Port is also developing a clean fleet policy to guide purchasing into the future, and an anti-idling policy to limit unnecessary engine idling and emissions.

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LEFT: Port employees were trained how to plug in and unplug the cars with the charging stations.
RIGHT: Special decals help to educate the public about the car’s features.

The electric car initiative is part of the broader effort that led to the Port accomplishing yet another tangible environmental success. Green Marine, a voluntary environmental certification program for the North American maritime industry, awarded the Port of New Orleans in May with its official certification as a Green Port. Endorsed by the American Association of Port Authorities, Green Marine’s process is rigorous and transparent, including third-party verification. Participants are expected to continuously reduce their environmental footprint.
The Port of New Orleans is the eighth U.S. port to join the voluntary environmental certification program.

“Green Marine provided us with an action plan to help the Port reach the high environmental standards we set for ourselves,” said Gary LaGrange, Port President and CEO. “While we are proud of the certification, we will continue to work diligently to be a more environmentally friendly organization.”

The process for certification began in September 2014 when the Board of Commissioners, LaGrange and former Chief Operating Officer Patrick Gallwey approved membership in the program.

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David Bolduc, Green Marine Executive Director, presents the Green Marine Certification to Amelia Pellegrin, Port of New Orleans Environmental Services Manager, at the GreenTech Certification Ceremony in Seattle.

The environmental team began preparing for certification with a self-evaluation. It assessed multiple performance indicators including greenhouse gases and air pollutants, spill prevention, dry bulk handling and storage, community impacts and environmental leadership. This evaluation was submitted to Green Marine for review in March 2015.

“The evaluation process is really thorough and helped us identify areas where we were already finding success, and other areas where we could improve through new policies and programs to move the Port forward,” says Amelia Pellegrin, Port Environmental Services Manager.
The next step in the certification process involved an audit by a third-party company that Green Marine authorized to complete the verifications. The Port attended the Certification Ceremony on May 28 in Seattle at the annual GreenTech conference to receive the official certification, along with Port of New Orleans terminal operators Empire Stevedoring, Ceres Terminals Inc. and dozens of other North American marine terminals, shipyards, ship owners and ports.

“Attaining the Green Marine certification is a critical step in building toward international standards for environmental management,” says Catherine Dunn, Director of Port Development who oversees all environmental initiatives.

The Green Marine certification is not static, and each member organization has increased expectations annually to maintain their status. Entities are measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, and they must work to achieve a 5 in every performance indicator. For example, the Port of New Orleans entered into certification with a 3 in Spill Prevention and will be working to attain a 4 for its next verified audit in two years. The Port earned a top score of 5 in Environmental Leadership and will work to maintain that status.

The Port of New Orleans is also working on new spill prevention planning efforts. The spill plans will cover all Port operated facilities and vessels. The plans will include prevention policies and guidelines for counter measures and cleanup in the case of incidence, and will meet with all federal and state guidelines.

On the community impact front, the EPA’s Trash Free Waters pilot program is guiding the Port’s outreach initiatives to improve water quality, including an Earth Day cleanup and an awareness campaign launching in the fall. The Port also leads a regional interagency initiative to prevent pollution in our waterways by communicating though public art on stormwater drains, called “By-You Drainscapes.”

“The Port of New Orleans will continue to invest in reducing our environmental impact and increasing awareness,” says LaGrange. “Working alongside our industry and community partners, we look forward to many more successes to come.”

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