September 16, 2021 — Each year, the Port of San Diego dedicates the month of September as Green Port Month. Following last year’s lead, a virtual environmental awards ceremony was held at the September Board of Port Commissioners meeting.

Three Port employees were honored with the Michelle White Environmental Award at the Tuesday, September 14, 2021 Board meeting. Michelle was a former Port employee who made numerous significant contributions to the Port’s environmental legacy. She introduced the Green Port Month program 14 years ago to celebrate the Port’s environmental achievements and to acknowledge employees who incorporate environmental decisions into their daily lives. The Port named the environmental awards in her honor after her passing nearly five years ago to commemorate her passion and commitment to the Port’s environmental efforts.

“The Port of San Diego is a champion for the environmental health of San Diego Bay and its tidelands, and the Green Port Program has helped us integrate environmental sustainability into our daily operations,” said Port of San Diego Board Chairman Michael Zucchet. “Today we recognize our Port staff, community leaders and tenants who are leading the way in reducing the Port’s carbon footprint.”

The recipients of this year’s Michelle White Employee Environmental Awards were Sally Raney, Deputy District Clerk, Office of the District Clerk; Veronica Bango, Xerox Consultant, Office of the District Clerk; and the late Charlie Starns, Maintenance Supervisor, General Services.

Raney and Bango teamed up with a former team member, Angela Williams, to transition the Port from daily physical mail handling to electronic mail delivery for most departments during the pandemic. This cut down vehicle miles that would have been needed for administrative staff to come to the Port’s Administration Building to process the Port’s U.S. mail over the past 15 months.

Starns was recognized for several environmental contributions. He was responsible for tracking annual greenhouse gas emission inventories for Port operations, was an advocate for the use of alternative fuels, such as renewable diesel for the Port’s fleet vehicles, and was a staunch supporter of a plan to electrify all the Port’s General Services vehicles by the end of the decade. His knowledge of electric vehicles has been extremely valuable for the planning of converting to electric service vehicles. Under Starns’ guidance, the Port switched to diesel renewable fuel in 2018 and since then has reduced its fossil fuel emissions by 474 metric tons.

Each Green Port Month, the Port also recognizes a community leader and outstanding tenants. This year’s community leader award recognized Jason Anderson, President & CEO of Cleantech San Diego. Over the years, Anderson has collaborated with the Port to provide technology demonstration opportunities, access to cleantech professionals, and education on industry and state and federal efforts that support the Port’s Climate Action Plan and other environmental initiatives.

Two Port tenants were also honored with awards – the Coronado Yacht Club and G2 Ocean. The Coronado Yacht Club established a Green Committee to address environmental issues. The Yacht Club installed a floating marine skimmer that is attached to a floating dock at the northern end of Glorietta Bay. The skimmer can run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It pumps 350-400 gallons of water through its system to remove and collect floating debris and oil sheen from the water’s surface. Additionally, the Coronado Yacht Club is proactively considering coastal resilience planning and strategies.

G2 Ocean, a breakbulk shipping company based in Norway, is a tenant at the Port’s Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal. Its ocean liner service regularly brings shipments of steel, coil, yachts and fertilizer to the Port. The company, along with its Vice President of Operations, Anthony Damron, is being recognized for exceptional commitment to the Port’s Voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction Program. More than 90% of G2’s vessel calls to the Port in 2019 and 2020 had reduced speeds in conformance with the program goals.

Also, in conjunction with Green Port Month, the Board of Port Commissioners adopted a resolution in support of California Clean Air Day, which takes place October 6, 2021. Sponsored by the Coalition for Clean Air, California Clean Air Day provides a unique opportunity to engage community stakeholders and to commit to actions to help improve air quality. The Port will join more than 340 government organizations, businesses, and non-profit partners in celebrating California Clean Air Day.

Another highlight of Green Port Month is the publication of the annual Green Port Year in Review. This document pinpoints the Port’s environmental achievements. Some of the Port’s environmental successes in fiscal year 2020-2021 include:

  • The Port, in partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy, received $890,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to construct a Living Shoreline, a nature-inspired shoreline with a native oyster reef, on the north side of the Chula Vista Wildlife Reserve, to increase biodiversity and improve the resiliency of the adjacent coastal salt marsh from projected climate change impacts.
  • The Port advanced the draft Maritime Clean Air Strategy to improve public health by accelerating zero and near-zero emission technologies. The Port also actively supported development of the complementary Community Emission Reduction Plan, working closely with community representatives, regional stakeholders, and public agencies.
  • The Port acted on Climate Action Plan goals related to energy that resulted in an approximately 17% reduction in electricity and 60% reduction in natural gas, resulting in an annual savings of approximately $300,000.
  • Additionally, 45 vessels identified as marine debris were removed from San Diego Bay, 337 tons of recycled material was diverted from Port facilities, 15 pounds of fishing line was collected from San Diego Bay and recycled, and the use of renewable diesel fuel increased by 33%.

Click here to view the full Green Port Year in Review for 2021.

Throughout Green Port Month, the Port of San Diego will encourage employees to sign their own sustainability pledges, participate in virtual clean-up activities, promote California Clean Air Day through social media, and advance the development of the Maritime Clean Air Strategy focused on its “Healthy Equity for All” vision.