Green no longer just means money



J. B. Hanson, Maryland Port Administration, Baltimore, USA


Green has, over the last few years, taken on a new meaning. Today when someone says the word green they are usually not talking about cash carried in a wallet, but rather the environment. The Academy Award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, helped spur on the movement to protect the environment and acknowledge global warming. Savvy corporations like General Electric and Wal-Mart quickly jumped on the green wagon and are seeing the results in the other kind of green.

For some businesses, going green takes a bit more effort and is being accomplished in small increments. Like the popular song of the seventies It’s Not Easy Being Green sung by a Muppet named Kermit, terminals and other maritime industries are asking how they can change to better the environment while maintaining operations and reducing costs.

Actually, it’s not that hard being green, but it can be hard funding green projects. Several years ago, the Maryland Port Administration (MPA) began modifying and in some cases completely changing its concept of operations in relation to the environment. The first step was a new recycling effort and the use of cleaner chemicals and fuels.

Ultra low-sulfur diesel with biodiesel from vegetable oil is being used in all its power vehicles, equipment, back up power generators, engine driven fire protection system pumps and cranes. Standard diesel fuels with high sulfur content releases the particulates that one can often be seen emitting from the big trucks on the road. By using bio-diesel fuels, which are derived from vegetable oils, a cleaner burning alternative is provided.

Green initiatives

Hybrid vehicles are beginning to replace standard vehicles at MPA terminals. The hybrid models increase fuel economy and in some cases can as much as double fuel economy ratings compared to their gasoline powered counterparts. This results in less fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs. A 28 per cent fuel savings is projected by using the hybrids. The feasibility of using electric vehicles for daily on-site activities is also being seriously considered.

The use of synthetic motor oils, also on the table for consideration, would reduce the number of oil changes thereby reducing maintenance costs and wear on machinery. In addition to the hybrids, light duty Flex-Fuel vehicles will soon run on E-85 as opposed to unleaded gasoline. Other green additions at the MPA include the removal of underground tanks and more rubber tire gantry cranes and fleet vehicles using diesel oxidation catalysts to reduce diesel emissions.

The Maryland Port Administration (MPA) which oversees the public terminals at the Port of Baltimore has partnered with the Maryland Department of the Environment on many of the above initiatives. Partnerships are essential to ensure a greener maritime environment. In May 2008, the MPA received funding from the Environmental Protection Agency for projects to be administered by Maryland Environmental Service, an environmental support entity.

One grant is for assessment of emissions reduction technology that could be applied to trucks working in and around the port such as eliminating any idling of  vehicles on Baltimore’s public terminals. The remaining funding is being used to assess a variety of emissions reduction technologies that could enable cleaner ways to move cargo.

Dredge material sites

The remaining amount of grant dollars will be used for installation of diesel particulate filters on 14 pieces of heavy construction equipment at a number of Maryland dredge material sites. These sites, including Poplar and Hart-Miller islands, are known nationally and internationally as environmental and economic successes.

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