The Designers’ Protocol was launched at this year’s Monaco Yacht Show to present the industry with a standardised document aiming to provide designers with guiding sustainability principles. 

This collaborative effort, initiated by Dickie Bannenberg of Bannenberg & Rowell Design and co-created with Water Revolution Foundation’s Sustainable Yacht Design Taskforce, aims to inspire the broader yachting community and set out high-level issues for clients to consider when planning a new build. 

A roundtable discussion between top yacht designers and naval architects took place to share insights on the protocol and emphasise the importance of industry collaboration for achieving a sustainable future. Representatives on the panel included founder of Bannenberg & Rowell, Dickie Bannenberg; Philippe Briand, founder of Vitruvius Yachts; owner of Espen Oeino International, Espen Oeino; and Robert van Tol, Executive Director of Water Revolution Foundation. Editor in Chief at Superyacht Times, Francesca Webster, hosted and moderated the session.

The protocol has been developed based on the acronym ‘INFLUENCES,’ where each letter outlines different opportunities and aspects of various sustainable design principles.  There are 10 primary topics of interest, including operational profile, hotel load, decking solutions and more. The document contains concrete, visible output provided by the valued members of the Design Taskforce, which was initiated at the 2021 edition of Monaco Yacht Show. 

“Yacht- designers and naval architects are, in many cases, the initial point of contact with clients wishing to build or refit a yacht. As such, they have considerable influence on steering their clients towards responsible decisions. The INFLUENCES protocol sets this section of our industry on a clearer path to informing and guiding,” shared Bannenberg when asked about the importance of such a document for the industry. 

Eco-friendly approach to yacht design

As it becomes increasingly crucial to reduce yachting’s environmental impact, this initiative takes a significant step forward by promoting responsible and sustainable practices: “Designers are setting the precedent for expectations across the entire industry,” remarked Oeino. “This protocol should be compulsory as part of any client presentation so that we can instigate that dialogue and trigger a very healthy discussion surrounding sustainable design.”

Industry collaboration
This initiative stands as a testament to the industry’s commitment to harnessing collective expertise and experience, transcending individual interests for the greater good of achieving sustainability in yacht design. Collaboration is key in order to take coordinated, constructive, and significant steps forward. Through a joint effort, the field’s leading players are uniting to chart a course towards a more environmentally conscious yachting industry. “We must group our efforts to progress toward a solution. This protocol represents the first time we can show that, as naval architects and designers, we are on the same page regarding this challenge of sustainability,” offered Briand. 

Dickie Bannenberg also emphasised the importance of industry cooperation for this endeavour: “With a subject as broad – and often ambiguous – as sustainability, collaboration can be a powerful tool. There are several valuable and important initiatives within the yachting industry concerning the health of the oceans, from pathways to alternative fuels, but the Designers’ Protocol is, I believe, the first to connect designers and naval architects behind a united message.”

Next steps

“It’s all about sharing experience and data through broad collaboration. It’s not just a great initiative – it is indispensable that we do it. We must do it for the future of our industry, clients, and children. We encourage everyone to actively take part in this,” offered Oeino as a final thought.

You may access the protocol here.