Vessel Environmental Footprint (VEF)

Empowering Climate Action: Innovative (VEF) Vessel Environmental Footprint System for Charter Companies

Author: Laura Ullius

Green Sail has developed the first-of-its-kind (VEF) vessel environmental footprint system, enabling charter companies to take climate action by measuring and reducing their environmental footprint.

An environmental footprint refers to ‘the effect a person, company, activity etc. has on the environment’ and within the sailing industry. The goal should be to make ours as low as possible! Given that the nautical sector’s current way of operating is causing climate change, the loss of biodiversity and habitats for many species, pollution and ocean acidification, among other negative environmental impacts, it’s becoming increasingly important to measure and reduce our environmental footprint.

By improving your charter company's VEF rating, you support the industry's shift towards sustainability by staying ahead of future environmental legislation and enhancing brand reputation.

Green Sail

Starting with the Problem: Our Impact on the Environment

Yachts and sailboats emit harmful substances like carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter (a mixture of airborne particles and liquid droplets made up of several hazardous materials), carbon monoxide, and non-methane volatile organic compounds. Irresponsible practices, such as black and greywater discharges, noise pollution, littering and anchoring in sensitive ecosystems, worsen their environmental impact.

Green Sail

Our Solution: (VEF) Green Sail’s Vessel Environmental Footprint System

Verified by scientists at the Institute for Tourism in Croatia, the VEF system measures emissions and sustainability actions onboard a boat, resulting in a rating out of 5. This rating indicates the impact the vessel has on the environment, with 1 suggesting that your vessel produces a significant environmental footprint, and 5 showing that it is a sustainable vessel that actively mitigates its impact on the environment.

The system works to reduce the impact the yacht charter industry has on the environment, allowing our Charter Company Partners to make informed decisions that support green initiatives.

(VEF) Vessel Environmental System - The Rating Process

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How is the rating calculated?

We measure four key areas:

  • Emissions produced onboard
  • Power usage
  • Water usage
  • Waste produced onboard

Additionally, efforts taken to reduce the environmental footprint onboard are considered, such as:

  • Renewable energy sources onboard (solar panels and water makers)
  • Recycling facilities
  • Anti-fouling processes

Further details such as the age of the vessel, how frequently it is used and how it is used (i.e. charter or leisure) are also examined when calculating your overall VEF rating.

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What’s in it for Charter Companies: VEF Benefits

Yacht Charter companies can use organisations like Green Sail for the VEF calculation, but what are the benefits of doing so?

Green Sail
  • Financial Advantages: Increased Revenue

    Investing in sustainability offers various financial advantages. In the short term, charter companies dealing in sustainable products or services can charge premium prices due to factors such as lower demand, high cost of raw materials, higher wages for employees, expensive certifications and more. Similarly, more consumers are willing to pay higher prices for sustainable products/services. This all leads to increased revenue!

  • Long Term Solutions: Reduced Operating Costs

    In the long term, using renewable energy such as solar, hydro or wind, can be cheaper than fossil fuels. For example, the Icelandic whale-watching sailboat Ópal (the world’s first retro-fitted plugin hybrid sailboat), saves 21,300 Euros every year in energy costs with an electric engine that can regenerate its battery while sailing. Recycling and reusing materials on board can also save and reduce costs; from replacing furniture to engine parts! This, in turn, not only strengthens the company's financial health, but will also lead to increased revenue.

  • Stay ahead of environmental legislation

    Though Green Sail’s VEF assessments and recommended changes are currently voluntary, governments will eventually mandate compulsory environmental policy measures to be followed by companies. Staying ahead of such legislation will give companies extra time to adapt their businesses and a competitive edge over competitors who have not yet adopted sustainability measures.

  • Improved Brand Reputation and Credibility

    Meeting the increasing demand for environmentally-friendly options is not only beneficial but essential, given the rising global interest in sustainable products and services. Sustainability labels have the potential to significantly boost a company's reputation, especially among environmentally-conscious consumers, fostering trust and support for the company's eco-friendly initiatives. VEF also serves to enhance brand credibility by providing transparent, quantitative data that validates a company's sustainability claims, eliminating any suspicions of green-washing.

  • Develop an understanding of your carbon footprint & how to offset it

    VEF assessments allow charter companies to gain an insight into their greenhouse emissions and what can be done to reduce, eliminate or offset them, inspiring climate action. (Offsetting, however, should be a last resort for emissions that can’t be reduced/eliminated otherwise, and must remain transparent).

  • Improved supply chain flow

    By assessing your environmental impact, including those of the suppliers a company works with, businesses can see where environmental impacts can be reduced. This will holistically improve the sustainability of their supply chain.

  • Improved company culture

    Charter companies that voluntarily conduct a VEF assessment may find that their employees will be more motivated to work for a company that has strong environmental ideals. Studies have shown that employees working for companies with strong corporate social responsibility practices were more motivated to work. Ultimately, it's gratifying to know that the company you work for is actively investing in a sustainable future!

Be a part of the shift towards a sustainable nautical industry

The nautical leisure industry has many negative environmental impacts on the environment, particularly in the Mediterranean. Implementing a VEF assessment is the first step in shifting towards a sustainable nautical industry. If you are interested in rating your vessel through Green Sail with our VEF system, find out more here!