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Sustainability plays an important part in the daily operations at Saltwater Engineering. In the build up to World Environment Day we will give insights on our sustainable vision, our sustainable work methods, and the sustainable projects we take part in. Mike Stelzer, one of the three co-directors of Saltwater Engineering, shares his views on sustainability in the industry.
Q: World Environment Day was established in order to encourage awareness and action for the protection of our environment. How important is it for Saltwater Engineering to find a balance between economic development and ecological sustainability?
A:At Saltwater Engineering we feel that it is very important to find this balance; our environment is fragile, our resources are limited and we have to think of future generations. Commercial/economic aspects often conflict with ecological aspects; however through careful planning and smart engineering a balance can be found. We feel that it is important that our people feel motivated and empowered to look for sustainable opportunities in their works and thus also creating awareness amongst our clientele and contractors.
The shipping industry has a large impact on the environment and the awareness of this impact is gaining more footholds through the industry. Not only is the awareness changing but also the actual regulations are changing that are influencing the manner in which we need to design and operate vessels. The last years have seen changes in the levels emissions of engines and changes in ballast water management just to name a few examples. Also many classification societies have special notations for a clean or green design that focuses on sustainability. Taking these aspects into account along with our own vision on sustainability clearly shows why it is critical that the industry embraces these changes.
Q: Why do you believe sustainability plays such a critical role in the maritime industry?
A:The maritime industry in which Saltwater Engineering operates covers a huge range of sectors such as Oil and Gas, Salvage, Decommissioning and of course the Renewable Energy. These sectors also each have a large impact of the environment, both in negative and positive aspects. The Renewable Energy and Decommissioning sectors deliver a very positive effect to our sustainability goals while Oil and Gas works have a more negative stigma. We feel that it is vital that our sector embraces sustainability and this start with the engineering.
Q: Sustainability plays an important role in the daily operations of Saltwater Engineering, what specific actions does Saltwater Engineering undertake in order to reduce their ecological footprint?
A:At Saltwater Engineering we have undertaken several steps in order to reduce our ecological footprint. From stimulating our people to use the bicycle to come to work to implementing energy saving in our office building by increasing the insulation and the use of a heat recovery system on our air conditioning system. Little things help and should not be overlooked, in our daily operations we attempt to work in a paperless environment and enforce recycling of materials.
Projects in the decommissioning and renewable energy sector have become part of our standard works, and these projects offer our people the chance to also implement and see the positive effects of our sustainable approach.
Q: Sustainability plays a critical role in the maritime sector - the demand for sustainable developments continues to increase. Where do you see Saltwater Engineering in 5 years? What sustainable techniques are you planning on, or interested in, implementing?
A:One issue that is becoming more and more relevant are the changes to the ballast water management regulations that are slowly being implemented in the industry. The Ballast Water Management Convention aims to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms from one region to another. Furthermore, the Convention aims to halt damage to the marine environment from ballast water discharge, by minimizing the uptake and subsequent discharge of sediments and organisms. In 2024, all ships are required to have approved Ballast Water Management Treatment System.
At Saltwater Engineering we are already working with our clients to implement ballast water management systems and procedures on various vessels. In the coming years this subject will require significant resources in order to meet the convention deadlines and we at Saltwater Engineering are ready for the challenge.
Renewable energy, especially located offshore, is still a relatively young market when compared to the more traditional offshore oil and gas markets; however in the last few years this sector has been gaining a stronger foothold in the entire industry. This is due to multiple reasons among which the main ones are the greater environmental awareness and also the low oil price. Offshore companies that operate in the renewable energy market generally require modifications to their existing vessels and designs of new vessels, support tools and structures. At Saltwater Engineering we aim to expand the works we do in this sector, achieving practical and sustainable solutions to the engineering challenges in this market is something we excel at.