The Green Blue is the joint environment programme created by the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine for anyone who enjoys getting out on the water or whose livelihood depends on it. They recently launched the University Sailing Sustainability Challenge and we caught up with The Green Blue’s Kate Fortnam to talk about the project in more detail.
Tell us more about The Green Blue project?
The Green Blue – launched at the Southampton International Boat Show on 19th September 2005 – is an innovative environmental awareness set up to promote the sustainable use of coastal and inland waters by boating and watersports participants, as well as the sustainable operation and development of the recreational boating industry.
The Green Blue’s objective is to help boaters and boating businesses to minimise their impact on the environment by raising awareness amongst industry and users; reducing harmful discharges; reducing environmental disturbance; and encouraging sustainable choices.
Who/what was the driving force behind setting it up?
The Green Blue is the joint environmental initiative of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) and British Marine. It recently celebrated 10 years of successfully helping boat users, boating businesses, sailing clubs and training centres reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters to keep them in great shape for now and the future.
With support from The Crown Estate’s Marine Stewardship Programme, the small Hamble-based team raises environmental awareness and identifies eco-friendly products to make boating in the UK as sustainable as possible.
How widely is it known and accepted in the UK sailing community?
If you take a look around most sailing clubs and marinas today, it’s clear that the boating sector has really taken to environmental change and the work of The Green Blue. You’ll find LED lighting along pontoons, smart meters, waste management facilities with different receptacles for every type of boat waste, solar panels visible on many marina office roofs and yacht decks, on board wind turbines, hybrid engines, inline bilge filters and even electric car charging points in marina car parks.
But there is still more work to be done to protect the future sustainability of our marine ecosystem. By working towards an environmentally self-regulating boating community, The Green Blue aims to make efficiency savings, avoid red tape, help boaters and boating businesses minimise their impact on the environment, and safeguard the waters and habitats we enjoy and rely on for the future.
One assumes that sailing would be relatively sustainable, it’s wind powered, so what are the key sustainability issues for the sport?
As more and more people take to the water we risk damaging the natural environment. Whether it’s our coastal waters or inland lakes, rivers and canals, our waterways are getting more crowded and with numbers come problems. And it’s not just wind-powered boats that are out there! The Green Blue offers advice to participants of dinghy and yacht racing, motor and sail cruising, RIBs and sportsboats, powerboat racing, windsurfing, inland cruising and personal watercraft (jet-skis).
Nobody wants red tape and regulations so The Green Blue works hard to avoid this by encouraging people to voluntarily change their habits and become more environmentally friendly every time they go boating. Here’s just a snapshot of some of the environmental issues that boaters face:-
Antifoul and Invasive Species: Whilst antifouling does a great job of keeping our hulls clean, and even has some environmental benefits such as improving fuel efficiency and preventing the spread of invasive non-native species, it is toxic to aquatic life. Since the banning of TBT in 1987, most antifouls are now copper or zinc based. Some of the compounds found in these antifouls can accumulate in marine organisms, and can find their way into marine wildlife further up the food chain.
Cleaning and Maintenance: When boats are cleaned, the cleaning products can end up in the water. Products used on boat hulls and decks often contain chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and solvents, all potentially harmful to the aquatic environment. Detergents containing phosphates (such as washing-up liquids and laundry detergents) can lead to nutrient enrichment causing algal blooms and oxygen depletion, causing localised suffocation of aquatic life.
Oil and Fuel: The fuel and oil used by recreational craft is lighter than crude oil and although these lighter fuels do not have the catastrophic effect of smothering marine life, they are toxic to fish and many other water species. Prolonged exposure can affect reproduction, growth and feeding, even in low concentrations. These toxins can build up in the food chain and eventually find their way into us.
Sewage and Waste: Untreated sewage from boats can spread gastroenteritis; contaminate shell fish beds and mussel ropes and use up vital oxygen in the water. Human waste also contains phosphorous and nitrogen which increase the levels of algae and reduce water clarity. Chemicals such as chlorine, formaldehyde, ammonium and zinc compounds used as disinfectants, breakdown and deodorise waste are toxic to marine life.
Wildlife: Examples of possible disturbance is engine noise interfering with the acoustic communications of whales and dolphins, affecting the way they hunt for prey. Speeding vessels can affect the reproductive cycles of fish and excess wash can cause bank erosion and the loss of habitats
What was the thinking behind creating a university challenge?
At the British Association for Sustainable Sport conference in 2014, The Green Blue had an opportunity to meet with Nick Roberts and learn about the Global Athletes programme which encourages students to embrace sustainability challenges in their everyday lives at university.
The Green Blue saw this as a great model to extend to university sailing clubs by challenging students to improve environmental sustainability within their sailing teams and clubs. Students love a challenge, so The Green Blue created a three tiered competition with a prize draw incentive and invited university clubs to sign up. The response has been brilliant and The Green Blue is very excited to have such an energetic and committed group of students on board helping to promote sustainable boating.
How many university sailing clubs are there?
There are 46 university sailing clubs.
What do you need to happen for the challenge to be a success (how can readers help)?
Lots of encouragement! Follow the teams on Facebook and Twitter (@thegreenblue) and if you are a member of a sailing club that hosts a university sailing team, look out for them and support what they are trying to put in place at the club.
Readers can also meet the team and find out more about The Green Blue’s incredible journey at www.thegreenblue.org.uk or to find out more about sustainable boating call 023 8060 4273.
How Home Automation Can Help You Go Green
The holidays are an exciting, nostalgic time: the crispness in the air, the crunch of snow under your boot, the display of ornate holiday lighting up your home like a beacon to outer space, and the sound of Santa’s bell at your local Walmart.
Oh, yeah—and your enormous electric bill.
Extra lights and heating can make for some unexpected budgeting problems, and they also cause your home to emit higher levels of CO2 and other pollutants.
So, it’s not just your wallet that’s hurting—the planet is hurting as well.
You can take the usual steps to save energy and be more eco-conscious as you go about your normal winter routine (e.g., keeping cooler temperatures in the home, keeping lights off in naturally lit rooms, etc.), but these methods can often be exhausting and ultimately ineffective.
So what can you actually do to create a greener home?
Turn to tech.
Technology is making waves in conservation efforts. AI and home automation have grown in popularity over the last couple of years, not only because of their cost saving benefits but also because of their ability to improve a home’s overall energy efficiency.
Use the following guide to identify your home’s inefficiencies and find a solution to your energy woes.
Monitor Your Energy Usage
Many people don’t understand how their homes use energy, so they struggle with conservation. Start by looking at your monthly utility bills. They can show you how much energy your home typically uses and what systems cost you the most.
The usual culprits for high costs and energy waste tend to be the water heater and heating and cooling system. Other factors could also impact your home’s efficiency. Your home’s insulation, for example, could be a huge source of wasted heating and cooling—especially if the insulation hasn’t been inspected or replaced in years. You should also check your windows and doors for proper weatherproofing every year.
However, waiting for your monthly bill or checking out your home’s construction issues are time-consuming steps, and they don’t help you immediately understand and tackle the problem. Instead, opt for an easier solution. Some homeowners, for example, use a smart energy monitor such as Sense to track energy use in real time and identify energy hogs.
Use Smart Plugs
Computers, televisions, and lights still consume energy if they’re left on and unused. Computers offer easy cost savings with their built-in timers that allow the devices to use less energy—they typically turn off after a set number of minutes. Televisions sometimes provide the same benefit, although you may have to fiddle with the settings to activate this feature.
A better option—and one that thwarts both the television and the lights—is purchasing smart plugs. The average US home uses more than 900 kilowatts of electricity per month. That can really add up, especially when you realize that people are wasting more than $19 billion every year on household appliances that are always plugged in. Smart plugs like WeMo can help eliminate wasted electricity by letting you control plugged-in items from your smartphone.
Update Your Lighting
Incandescent lightbulbs can consume and waste a lot of energy—35% of CO2 emissions are generated from electric power plants. This can have serious consequences for increased global warming.
To reduce your impact on the environment, you can install more efficient lightbulbs to offset your energy usage. However, many homeowners choose smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, to save money and make their homes more energy efficient.
Smart lights can be controlled from your smartphone, and many smart light options come with monthly energy reporting so you can continue to find ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
Take Control of the Thermostat
Homeowners often leave the thermostat on its default settings, but defaults often result in heating and cooling systems that run longer and harder than they need to.
In fact, almost half the average residential energy use comes from energy-demanding heating and cooling systems. As an alternative to fiddling with outdated systems, eco-conscious homeowners use smart thermostats to save at least 10% on heating and roughly 15% on cooling per year.
Change your home’s story by employing a smart thermostat such as the Nest, ecobee3, or Honeywell Lyric. Smart thermostats automatically adjust your in-home temperature by accounting for a variety of factors, including outdoor humidity and precipitation. A lot of smart thermostats will also adjust your home’s temperature depending on the time of day and whether you’re home.
Stop Wasting Water
The average American household uses about 320 gallons of water per day. About one-third of that goes to maintaining their yards. Using a smart irrigation systems to improve your water usage can save your home up to 8,800 gallons of water per year.
Smart irrigation systems use AI to sync with local weather predictions, which can be really helpful if you have a garden or fruit trees that you use your irrigation system for water. Smart features help keep your garden and landscaping healthy by making sure you never overwater your plants or deprive them of adequate moisture.
If you’re looking to make your home greener, AI-enabled products could make the transition much easier. Has a favorite tool you use that wasn’t mentioned here? Share in the comments below.
Working From Home And How It Reduces Emissions
Many businesses are changing their operating model to allow their employees to work from home. Aside from the personal convenience and business benefits, working from home is also great for the environment. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, if employees with the desire to work from home and compatible jobs that allowed for this were allowed to do so only half the time, the reduction in emissions would be the equivalent of eliminating automobile emissions from the workforce of the entire state of New York. Considering the stakes here, it is vital that we understand how exactly working from home helps us go green and how this can be applied.
Reduction of automobile emissions
Statistics by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show that the transportation sector is responsible for about 14% of the total Global Emissions of greenhouse gases, which is a very significant percentage. If employees work from home, then the need to travel to and from their workplace every other day as well as other business trips are reduced considerably. While this may not eliminate the emissions from the transport sector altogether, it reduces the percentage. As indicated in the example above, a move to work from home by more businesses and industries cuts down automobile emissions to as much as those from an entire state.
Reduction of energy production and consumption
According to Eurostat, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning accounted for as high as 26% of the Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU in 2014. EPA stats are also close at 25% of the total emissions. This makes energy production the single largest source of emissions. Working from home eliminates the need for large office spaces, which in turn reduces the need for electricity and heating. Similarly, the need for electrical office equipment and supplies, such as printers and computers, is also greatly reduced, which reduces the emissions from energy production in offices. Additionally, most households are now adopting green methods of energy production and implementing better ways of energy usage. The use of smart energy-efficient appliances also goes a long way in reducing the energy production and consumption levels from households. This, in turn, cuts down emissions from energy production from both the home and office fronts.
Reduced need for paper
Paper is also a huge source of emissions, considering that it is a carbon-based product. EPA stats show that carbon (IV) oxide from fossil fuel and industrial processes accounts for 65% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. Working from home is usually an internet-based operation, which means less paper and more cloud-based services. When everything is communicated electronically, the need for office paper is reduced considerably. Moreover, the cutting down of trees for the sake of paper production reduces. All these outcomes help reduce the emissions and individual carbon footprints.
While businesses make an effort to recycle it is not as effective as homeowners. Consider everything from the water you drink to office supplies and equipment. While working from home, you have greater control over your environment. This means that you can easily implement proper recycling procedures. However, at the office, that control over your personal space and environment is taken away and the effectiveness of recycling techniques is reduced. Working from home is, therefore, a great way to go green and increase the adoption of proper recycling.
Even though the statistics are in favor of working from home to reduce emissions, note that this is dependent on the reduction of emissions from home. If the households are not green, then the emissions are not reduced in the least. For instance, if instead of installing a VPN in the router to keep the home office safe, an employee buys a standalone server and air gaps it, the energy consumption is not reduced but increased. Therefore, it is necessary that employees working from home go green if there is to be any hope of using this method of operation to cut down on the emissions.