WE CAN! SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS HIGHLIGHTED IN ANNUAL REPORT
For the thirteenth year in a row, the Port of Vancouver USA has demonstrated its continued commitment to sustainable business practices and highlighted successes with its 2021 Sustainability Report — an annual report of the port’s “We Can!” Sustainability Task Force.
“Sustainability efforts continue to be a priority for port operations, as we can see benefits for people, planet and profit,“ said Environmental Program Manager, Mary Mattix. “This program strives to improve operational efficiency, leading to reduced operational costs and a smaller environmental footprint. Additionally, the consistency of our efforts allows the port to continuously improve our work in environmental stewardship, social equity and economic viability.”
The report takes stock of the work of the We Can! Sustainability Task Force, which identifies areas of improvement and sets goals and targets to align with the port’s Strategic Plan in three areas of sustainability: people, planet and profit.
Highlights from the 2021 Sustainability Report include:
Social Equity – “People”:
With the COVID-19 pandemic protocols in place during 2021, regularly scheduled in-person tours and lectures were cancelled and the port found alternative ways to engage with the community. Digital and print communication methods became the primary means of communicating with port constituents and the public. A few highlights of engagement included:
- Launched a virtual port tour and delivering a virtual Port Report to provide the community a chance to learn about the port without the need to leave the comfort of their homes.
- Conducted a robust outreach and engagement campaign around the creation of the port’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) with materials in both Spanish and English.
- Redesigned in-person events to be COVID-friendly such as the annual Waterfront Appreciation event where 250 appreciation bags were assembled and distributed to ILWU members.
- Awarded the port’s second $5,000 Community Fund to three local organizations. Awards went to Vancouver Farmers Market, Columbia Play Project and Clark College Foundation.
- Hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics and Red Cross blood drives at the port offices, providing a convenient location for our community and tenants.
- Promoted employee diversity with the creation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (developed metrics for tracking action, initiated employee training plan, language for corporate values, email signature pronouns).
- Environmental Stewardship – “Planet”
Environmental Stewardship efforts continued in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Over the past 10 years, the port has worked to increase the population of Purple Martins in Southwest Washington. Last year we were able to confirm 46 successful hatches at our nesting gourds near the wetland mitigation bank, which is almost double the 2020 hatches and an all-time high for the site. Expert volunteers banded the chicks so their location and return can be tracked.
- Completed final work on the Parcel 3 Berm project, installing the irrigation system and over 26,000 native plantings, increasing the quality and diversity of vegetation at the site previously and serving as a buffer for the vital feeding, foraging and resting site for sandhill cranes and other migratory species to the north.
- Completed the port’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). With the help and feedback from the community, our tenants, staff, commission and technical experts, this plan sets the port on a path to meet or exceed state and federal greenhouse gas goals.
- Developed port-wide pesticide policy (Integrated Pest Management plan) aimed at reducing harmful pesticide/herbicide applications around the port.
- Port rail personnel tested new non-petroleum/synthetic rail switch lubricants for use on the port’s 168 railroad switches. The trial was successful and has replaced the current petroleum-based lubricant used. The new product does not contain hazardous ingredients and should provide a longer life, which means less time and money spent by the port in addition to moving away from a fossil fuel-based product in support of CAP goals.
- Continued work on waste reduction through increased efficiencies efforts, such as initiating remote check disbursement to increase security, reduce port costs, paper use and waste, and streamline the process by which vendors and contractors are paid. This is expected to bring about cost savings to the port of approximately $180,000 over a five-year period.
As a result of waste reduction and efficiency efforts, the port saw a decrease in paper and office supply use. Paper purchasing was reduced by 40% in 2021 versus 2020 totaling 28 fewer boxes of paper at a cost savings of over $2,200.
Economic Vitality – “Profit”
- Continued to have clean audits from the Washington State Auditor’s Office looking at port’s internal controls to safeguard public assets. Those efforts paid off as we recently celebrated our 13th consecutive clean audit for our 2021 work.
- Worked with Washington Public Ports Association to advance and pass legislation that allows for tax increment financing at the port’s Terminal 1 project. Use of this financing tool will allow the port to move forward on the Terminal 1 redevelopment project and bring the associated jobs and economic vitality to southwest Washington.
- Diversified revenue:
- Despite the challenges with the global economy, our continued efforts with strategic investments and diversification of revenue sources, contributed to the port’s revenue in 2021, which in turn, is reinvested to keep the port’s buildings and assets functioning
- The work of the port’s Grant Committee included grant research administration and management activities for nine active grants totaling over $8M. Since 2007, the port has received over $75 million in grants and loans for port projects.
- Not only do we seek to diversify our cargos, but we strive for a healthy mix of tenants.
- Our year-end occupancy rate for 2021 was consistent with historic rates at 99.43%
Click here to download the full Port of Vancouver 2021 Sustainability Report.