Making Ships And Ports Greener

Apr 4, 2016

Driving and flying are known for having heavy carbon footprints. But sailing across oceans also contributes to environmental pollution. A two-day workshop in Narragansett will focus on how to make boats and ports more sustainable.

Boat builders and owners, ocean scientists and port representatives will gather for the national workshop “Green Boats and Ports” at the University of Rhode Island’s Bay Campus. 

Bruce Corliss, dean of the Graduate School of Oceanography, said international environmental regulations have been driving the shift to greening boats and ports. But he points out commercial shippers are also finding that going green helps their bottom lines, while others simply want to protect the ocean from pollution.

“And this is particularly important for the research community that is actively pursuing research in the ocean and at the same time trying to solve environmental problems dealing with the ocean,” said Corliss. 

Workshop topics include how to power boats with hybrid technology. “Other topics include biofuels, biolubricants, the type of bottom paint that's put on the vessels, lighting and recycling of the waste on the ships,” continued Corliss. “So it's quite a broad array of topics.”

This is the second time URI hosts this workshop. The first workshop took place at Duke University in North Carolina.

“This is something we've been working on for six years and I've been very pleased with the progress that we've made and in particular bringing together the private sector with the academic operators and funding agencies,” said Corliss. “I think it's a nice model to bring a diverse group of people together with a common interest to discuss solutions to important problems. And we've certainly seen progress in that area.”

URI’s research vessel The Endeavor was the first ship in the U.S. research fleet to switch to locally-produced biodiesel.

Corliss shared other examples of efforts underway that promote sustainability in marine research and transportation.

The new research vessel Sikuliaq in Alaska is incorporating a number of sustainable components to reduce its environmental impact. And the port at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego powers its shoreside facility with solar panels.

The University National Oceanographic Laboratory System, National Science Foundation and 11th Hour Racing are  supporting the workshop. Corliss said hosting it at URI is in line with making environmental sustainability a key part of the Bay Campus moving forward.