Ten years after RINA first introduced a green additional class notation for yachts, the standard has changed beyond recognition. It has changed because the environmental side of the superyacht sector has evolved in ways that few could foresee. That flexibility in adapting fast to industry developments and demands is why we are now celebrating its ten years of success.
The origins of our Green Plus additional class notation for superyachts, which is now voluntarily requested by around 80 percent of our owner clients for vessels over 40m, lie in the expedition sector. Explorer yachts in the mid-2000s faced local environmental protection laws a lot stricter than MARPOL requirements at that time. They came to us for advice, and later for certification. We officially launched the original Green Star notation in 2007.
As a set of prescriptive requirements, Green Star had limited flexibility. Superyachts vary in design, size, needs. Owners themselves have varying interests, with many – even then – wishing to do more for the environment than simply comply with minimum standards. A checkbox system is not good at taking into account variation, encouraging innovation or rewarding owners for investing time and money in being green.
Introduced in 2011, our solution was a future-proof scheme to evaluate a yacht’s overall environmental friendliness. It covers clearly defined areas of pollution – including sewage, garbage, ballast water, greenhouse gases and noise – and awards points for each. For example, a yacht might score three points for a standard sewage treatment system with some modifications, or six points for an advanced treatment plant that exceeds the minimum requirements.
This framework allows owners to achieve different ratings (standard, gold and platinum) for the environmental impact of their yacht. We are pleasantly surprised at how many owners voluntarily wish to do more for the environment. Some now employ environmental officers as part of the crew, and submit environmental management plans for advice and approval.
As a flexible framework, Green Plus both drives and leaves the door open to innovation. Game-changing technologies like scrubbers and hybrid engines were added to the notation as they appeared, along with innovative solutions in construction materials, energy/water management and propulsion. Designers are incorporating environmental aspects into the vessel’s very concept, with new hydrodynamic bow designs and materials that can be easily recycled at the end of the yacht’s life cycle.
We expect the next technological game-changer for superyachts will be energy storage, i.e. batteries, perhaps combined with fuel cells. But whatever is around the corner, our Green Plus notification will continue to evolve and help forward-thinking owners to build and refit environmentally friendly yachts.