Gather some green lessons from the Green Port program 
Normally we might not think of “port” and “green” in the same sentence. Ports, with all their ships and trucks and emissions, might not seem like the greenest of businesses. Not so with the Port of San Diego.

Port officials will be the first to admit ports historically haven’t been easy on the environment. Check out this 2007 article in The San Diego Union-Tribune on a port study revealing ships “accounted for most of the nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particle emissions” in 2006. Port activities coughed up 128,000 tons of greenhouse gases in 2006.

Nothing like some cold, hard numbers to give you a green kick in the pants.

So, in 2007, the Board of Port Commissioners approved an Environmental Sustainability Policy and the Port of San Diego is implementing green goals and striving to protect San Diego’s beautiful coastline.

(Image courtesy Port of San Diego)

The Green Port program covers six key areas:
1. Water – With a goal of improving water quality in San Diego Bay and reducing the port’s water usage, including decreasing water use at the port’s administration building by 10 percent.

2. Energy – The goal is to conserve energy and maximize energy efficiency, including alternative energy technology.

3. Air – The port plans to reduce greenhouse gas and other air emissions and determine its carbon footprint.

4. Waste management – The goal is to reduce waste through reuse, recycling and composting.

5. Sustainable development – The port plans to enhance the environmental performance of its buildings and incorporate green principles into new development.

6. Sustainable business practices – In making decisions, the port will consider environmental, economic and social concerns. Additional goals include educating port staff on the Green Port program and creating a Green Port Web presence.

The port approved 23 green projects it wanted to complete by the end of 2008. According to the checklist on its Web site, 15 have been checked off, six are in progress and two have been deferred.

The port has also created a Web site of green resources useful to the general public, including healthy garden/home brochures, lists of environmental tips and a page dedicated to Eastern Pacific green sea turtles that pass through the San Diego Bay.

A Green Thumbs Up to the port for its initiatives and for creating a Web site that not only outlines its green efforts, but also gives San Diego residents resources and information. All businesses could take a cue from the port and work toward going green.

Like the port, create a list of goals or objectives. Having your plan in writing makes it real and gives your employees a detailed outline of what is expected of them when it comes to making the office more environmentally friendly.

A key component of the port’s efforts is education – both the staff and the general public. Take the time to educate your staff on your green policies and on how they can implement green efforts in their home lives as well.

If your employees truly understand the benefits of going green, it will make them much more likely to buy into and participate in your initiatives. All the recycling bins in the world won’t help if your employees aren’t using them and don’t really understand why they should.

You can read all about the Green Port program online.

Look for a new feature in February highlighting green offices. If you have a green office, particularly if you are located in San Diego, and would like to share your tips for going green on the Green Office Blog, please send an e-mail to holly AT Go green!

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