Burr Stewart, the Port of Seattle’s strategic planning manager, says that Y2K and 9/11 served as “fire drills” for what transportation officials need to do regarding global warming. “We should be agitated,” he admonished the audience at a Transportation Research Board session last month.
Stewart is a mover and shaker at an agency located in the eco-conscious Northwest. He believes that sustainable practices are no longer “cool”—they’re now a “requirement of doing business.”
Transportation officials shouldn’t shy away from adapting each other’s sustainable practices, he says. “Europe is doing lots of work that the U.S. is ignoring. Let’s copy them and ramp it up,” he says. The Port of Seattle is taking a cue from its Long Beach and Los Angeles counterparts, which invested millions in a program that includes cleaner-burning construction and cargo-handling equipment, contract requirements and incentives for terminal operators, as well as cold ironing and air-quality monitors.
Next month, the Port of Seattle will unveil an air emissions inventory program to identify the source and type of emissions from ships, trucks, trains and port operations, says port spokesman Mick Shultz. Once the data is collected, it will “form the basis for future policy decisions,” he says.
Stewart helped found a sustainability committee for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and is part of the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum. “We’re looking at all types of emissions,” he says. “Climate change is just one piece of the puzzle.”
He is a member of an Airports Council International committee that launched a Website, sustainable aviation.org, to disseminate information on sustainability. He urged highway and transit officials to do similar.
Infrastructure planning needs to include long-term energy usage and efficient operations, he adds. “To reduce capital costs, it’s tempting to do things that will increase operating costs, he notes. Instead, “let’s make decisions as if we cared about the future.”.