Setting the standard for eco-friendly development



Martin Putman, Port Manager, Portsmouth Commercial Port, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK


Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has won a prestigious international environmental award recognising its ‘green’ vision – yet this is only the start of a long-term project.

The ISO 14001 standard demonstrates to stakeholders and the community that the Port is committed to reducing pollution and conserving natural resources. A new passenger terminal, opening in spring 2011, takes this a stage further with groundbreaking ‘green’ technology. Any port will always have an impact on the environment but, by thinking strategically, dealing responsibly with waste, and monitoring energy and water usage, it is possible  to develop as much of an environmentally friendly outlook aspossible – and, ultimately, to save money.

Covering a 17.6-hectare site on the south coast of England, and  with annual traffic of 2.5 million passengers and 250,000 freight  units travelling on 2,800 sailings to France, Spain and the Channel  Islands, Portsmouth Port is a hub of activity. With more routes than any other UK port, it attracts 800,000 vehicles a year.

The environmental challenge is, therefore, considerable but the Port is committed to corporate governance and social responsibility and the ISO award sits alongside other approvals gained for Quality, Health and Safety and Information Security. It is also determined to be a ‘good neighbour’ to Portsmouth’s historic dockyard (with Admiral Nelson’s HMS Victory) and the city’s naval base, home to numerous working warships.

So what is ISO 14001?

SO 14001 is the international standard for environmental management, setting procedures to prevent any form of pollution. This could include emissions, land contamination, noise and aesthetic pollution, effects on fauna and flora, and nuisance to the community. The key is identifying where such risks could occur  and how the impact can be limited or eliminated. It does not specify levels of environmental performance (which would require specific standards for each different business type) but instead provides a framework for a holistic, strategic approach to an organisation’s environmental policy, plans and actions.

How can ports achieve it?

ISO 14001 requires a business to establish an Environmental Management System. At Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port, the first step was to set up Environmental Impact Assessments across the Port, from the technical area to the existing terminal building. A full review was carried out to identify potential problems, including excessive lighting and noise, and energy wastage. The second step was to put in place programmes to improve performance.

The Port went through a rigorous internal development programme and then two stages of audit by the British Standards Institute, which polices the ISO awards. Auditors will be back every six months to check that the Port is doing what it has said it will do, and that it has set measurable objectives for continual improvement. At Portsmouth, attaining ISO 14001 was led by John Feltham, Standards and Compliance Manager. ISO 14001 is just the start. The Port is dedicated to maintain and improve on this and understands that it will be a long journey.

The benefits

Among the initiatives put in place are improved waste segregation and waste management, which include identifying recycling and re-use possibilities and ensuring the duty of care for all waste removed from the site. This has been set up in liaison with other Port users.

Monitoring and measuring electricity, gas and water usage has led to a carbon-reduction programme, including new lighting systems. Power warden systems for desktop computers will save energy and staff have received training in environmental awareness. While achieving ISO 14001 standards requires considerable effort, the benefits are clear: improved understanding of how each area of the Port can impact the environment; better knowledge of environmental legislation; how it relates to people’s roles and Ferry Port activities – plus a structure for reviewing compliance; and a targeted programme for environmental initiatives. This standard can be used to assure employees that they are working for an environmentally responsible organisation. It can also provide assurance on environmental issues to external stakeholders – such as customers, the community and regulatory agencies. It is also a powerful way to support a port’s claims and communication about its ‘green’ policy and actions.

Making a difference

A port obviously does not become ‘clean and green’ overnight, but it can make a significant contribution to the environment, and save money through reduced energy consumption in the long-term. Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port has put in place an impressive structure to manage environmental issues. It now has clear lines of responsibility and accountability, so there is less delay and more action. The outcome has been absolutely worth the hard work we have put into it.

Commitment from management at the highest level is essential, as well as communication with staff so they understand what the Port is trying to achieve and what their own role will be. This has been embraced with enthusiasm at Portsmouth and there are regular top management meetings to review progress and improve performance.

New terminal’s pioneering approach

The British Standards Institute auditors were particularly impressed with the Port’s new passenger terminal, which incorporates groundbreaking environmental technology. The primary consideration in its design was to reduce the building’s energy demand, but the motives went deeper.

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