Green Labels: tips for marinas looking to purchase green products
August 16, 2011
We are entering an era where green and environmentally friendly products and practices are more in demand than ever before. Nowhere is this truer than in the marina industry. Marinas operate in some of the world’s most sensitive habitats and are often found in the environmental spotlight. Around the world, federal, state and local agencies among others are pushing marinas and ports to become more environmentally conscious.
Developers, marina owners and port districts are stepping up to the plate and are looking for solutions to be better stewards of their environment. Specifying “green” or “environmentally friendly” products is becoming a more common practice in the marina industry.The challenge for many on the purchasing as well as manufacturing end is navigating the wilds of green advertising.
The Federal Trade Commission in the United States is poised to swipe the words “eco-friendly” and “environmentally friendly” off of retail products across the U.S. Vague claims such as these are impossible to substantiate and are often unlikely to be true.
The advice for those in the marina industry is to look for manufacturers who are willing to back up their “green” claims with scientific evidence and /or third party verification. Generic statements such as “made from recycled content” or “recyclable” are not enough in and of themselves to substantiate a “green” claim.
Another thing for marinas to keep in mind is that the incorporation of a “green” product is not typically enough in and of itself to make a project more or less environmentally friendly. The key to building a marina that is greener than another is to match the products and materials to the specific design and site to minimize the overall environmental impact.
For marinas, a surefire way to measure your overall environmental impact is not by whether or not you have what marketers are claiming to be the “greenest” dock system, but by considering the dock system’s estimated life span and the impact that the docks have on the habitat surrounding them. A dock system engineered for a long service life and constructed from materials selected for their environmental benefits once in the water will have much less of an environmental impact over a fifty year period than a dock system whose primary quality is that it was constructed from recycled materials.
This is not to say that substituting green products for conventional products cannot make the difference between a good marina and a great one because it can. The point is, the goal for marinas looking to be green should be to minimize their overall environmental impact and two critical components in meeting that goal are life span and impact the docks have on the environment once in the water. If you can add to that a dock system that has a carbon footprint that is less than another, you’ll have made that step from good to great.