Region 1: EPA New England

Sustainable Ports

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Tugboat at Mass Port Authority, Boston, MA
Tugboat at Mass Port Authority, Boston, MA

EPA New England encourages ports to undertake voluntary emission-reduction and fuel-saving measures by providing information, technical assistance, recognition and access to funding programs. The engines and equipment present at ports, including cargo handling equipment, trucks, locomotives and vessels can contribute to levels of fine particles, sulfur dioxides and ozone-forming nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the air. These pollutants adversely affect human health.

Air pollution is a great place for ports to begin their sustainability efforts because cost-effective, verified technologies and cleaner fuels are available to reduce these emissions. Sustainable ports should also assess their operations in an all-inclusive manner, including their handling of hazardous and solid wastes, surface water discharges, chemical storage, and so forth. To help make that happen, EPA New England and EPA Region 2 chair a Ports and Goods Movement Workgroup for the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, through which Northeast ports and those who work with them learn how to prevent pollution and conserve resources.

Tiered Approach to Greening New England's Ports
EPA New England developed an overview of the many and diverse strategies that ports can choose to begin to "green" their operations. These strategies are organized into three tiers - Environmental Stewardship, Technology Strategies, and Infrastructure and Replacement Strategies – based on cost and complexity. Full descriptions of each of these strategies are available from the Options for the Marine Ports Sector: Green Strategies for Sustainable Ports brochure (PDF) (8 pp, 499 K).

Port Technologies and Management Strategies
To give maritime facility and vessel owners a starting point for exploring the wide variety of technologies and strategies available to reduce emissions and save fuel, in 2009 an EPA student intern compiled the Port Technologies and Management Strategies list as a research project. While this tool is not intended to be comprehensive, and the accuracy of the information provided has not been verified, we hope it provides a window to a variety of ideas and resources for further exploration. Please consult EPA Headquarters' National Clean Diesel Campaign for more information on the technologies and strategies emphasized by the Clean Ports USA voluntary program, links to regulatory programs concerning the engines and fuels used by vessels and equipment found at ports, and other resources.

Compliance with Environmental Regulations
EPA Region 2 led a national team of EPA, state, and port officials to develop of a comprehensive, multi-media directory of environmental requirements and best practices, Port Authorities and terminals should be sure to consult this resource.

Sustainable Port Strategies in New England
Several New England ports are taking the lead in developing their own "green port" strategies and sustainability plans. The Massachusetts Port Authority and the ports in New Bedford, MA, and Bridgeport, CT were the first in New England to draft Sustainable Port Plans. EPA New England staff can assist any New England port in analyzing and selecting which "green" technologies and strategies will work best for them.

Shipyard Operations at Massport
Shipyard Operations at Massport

Clean Ports USA
This program, part of EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign, collaborates with ports nationwide to provide information on technologies and strategies, incentives and recognition.

Emission Control Area
As a member State of the International Maritime Organization, the U.S. participates in developing new international standards for marine diesel engines and their fuels. This effort resulted in the development of a North American Emission Control Area, which establishes special emission requirements for ships that operate in designated coastal areas.  EPA is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to advertise and enforce new fuel and emissions requirements that apply within 200 nautical miles of shore on the East Coast starting in August 2012. 

Northeast Diesel Collaborative Ports and Goods Movement Work Group
The NEDC Ports Workgroup brings together government, industry, and port stakeholders to implement innovative, cost-effective strategies for reducing diesel emissions at marine ports in the Northeast. This informal group meets bimonthly via conference call to hear speakers on topics of mutual interest, exchange information and develop products.  For example, EPA Region 2 recently finalized a Marine Vessel Repower Guide with input from the group.

EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership Drayage Program
SmartWay Transport is collaboration between EPA and the freight sector to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollutant emissions, and improve energy security. On June 28 2011, EPA, the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced the new SmartWay Drayage Program, which assists truck owners who serve ports in replacing and upgrading their vehicles, while recognizing shippers who use those cleaner trucks to transport their goods.  Two of Massport’s Conley Container Terminal carriers—Fry Corp and Highway Inter State Transportation—stepped forward to become Charter partners.

An Environmental Management System (EMS) Primer for Ports: Advancing Port Sustainability
The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) and EPA collaborated to develop this document  to help ports get started on developing EMSs and understanding how an EMS can advance port sustainability.

Related Links

Abby Swaine ( or 617-918-1841)