By Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves port director and CEO
As a Green Marine-certified port since 2021, the Galveston Wharves and its partners are making great progress in realizing long-term changes to protect the environment. Through Green Marine, a voluntary environmental program for North America’s maritime industry, the port is researching and/or implementing new programs, from native plantings to shore power, for sustainable environmental benefits.
PREPARING FOR CRUISE GROWTH
We’re preparing for cruise growth by building an interior roadway to accommodate cruise and cargo traffic and relieve traffic congestion and idling time. Navigation apps with real-time data updates, texts with current travel conditions, and automated license plate readers will help reduce drive and idling times for port cruise parking customers.
CLEAN ENERGY ON THE WATERFRONT
Shore power is another opportunity to reduce air emissions. We’re exploring the potential of connecting docked ships to shore-side electricity rather than diesel auxiliary engines, which produce air emissions. Shore power is an opportunity to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gases associated with maritime activities.
We’re also proud to be a leader in homeporting an LNG-fueled cruise ship, the newly built Carnival Jubilee. Scheduled to call Galveston home beginning in November 2023, the Jubilee also will be equipped for shore power, if it becomes available at the port. Using LNG fuel significantly reduces emissions and is a huge step toward a greener future for the shipping industry.
STRONGER WITH PARTNERS
We’re also partnering with community and business stakeholders on smaller projects to promote shared environmental goals.
Royal Caribbean recently announced that its new 160,300-square-foot cruise terminal will be 100-percent solar powered, making it the first zero energy cruise terminal in Texas.
The port is planning to install 28 electric vehicle charging stations at its cruise parking lots in 2023. The stations are funded in part by a $35,000 Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program grant through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
In September more than 30 volunteers with the Galveston Wharves and Ceres Terminals Galveston picked up litter and debris at Stewart Beach. Ceres Terminals, in partnership with Royal Caribbean Group, will operate the new $125 million cruise terminal opening in November at the Port of Galveston.
Earlier this year the Galveston Wharves was awarded a $5,000 grant from Clean Galveston to sustainably landscape the new Royal Caribbean cruise terminal with native plantings.
This project has many benefits. It’s good for the environment, it advances our Green Marine environmental program, it promotes sustainable landscaping, and will inform cruise terminal visitors about the beauty and benefits of native plants.
We could not have envisioned where our Green Marine journey would take us when we earned certification in 2021. With the commitment of our board of trustees and staff, we’re identifying opportunities for partnerships on environmental programs unimagined just a few years ago.
All these programs strengthen our relationships with our business partners and the community, while making positive, long-term environmental impacts. For example, business partners Metro Ports, Ports of America and Ceres Terminals Inc. have joined the port in becoming Green Marine participants. As we grow our circle of port partners, sharing ideas and efforts along the way, we collectively have a bigger impact.