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.”
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.”
“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.
A comprehensive package of crew best practices is being previewed at the Monaco Yacht Show to garner support from yacht management companies leading up to the anticipated launch of the guidelines in October.
Initiated together with MB92 Group and created by Danella Hopkins (formerly of S/Y Black Pearl), this package has been developed to enhance environmental sustainability onboard yachts and encourage crews to adopt more eco-friendly practices into their daily routines. Many industry experts and yacht crew members have contributed to address the unique challenges faced onboard in each department, ensuring a holistic overview. The guidelines will be offered as a free and open-source tool to support Water Revolution Foundation’s mission of fostering a more sustainable yachting community.
Reducing emissions onboard
Crews play a crucial role in maintaining the eco-friendly practices that reduce the environmental footprint of superyachts. “The work on the energy transition of superyachts has started. This transition will take time, with differentiated technical and technological solutions depending on the type of vessels and their usage profile. Nevertheless, there are immediate actions that crew can take on board to introduce more sustainable practices, which can significantly reduce emissions (by up to 30%), whether by optimising temperature settings, making slight adjustments to cruising speeds or employing effective resource management,” says MB92.
Overview of guidelines
The guidelines are composed of 24 sections, distinguished between ‘Onboarding Guidelines,’ ‘General Guidelines,’ and ‘Departmental Guidelines.’ While the onboarding guidelines mainly focus on instilling the crew with an environmental mindset and promoting a commitment to eco-friendly operations, the general guidelines outline the basic principles and standards that apply to all crew members in their day-to-day tasks. The departmental guidelines were created to address the specific needs and practices of each department, taking into account their individual responsibilities. “I know first-hand the challenges that can come with operating in a more sustainable manner, and I hope these guidelines will not only support crew to be more eco-responsible onboard, but also serve as a reminder that even small actions play a significant role in contributing to the bigger picture,” shares Danella, writer and curator of the guidelines.
Implementing the guidelines onboard
Enforcing the guidelines onboard requires a coordinated effort. While the captain and heads of departments play pivotal roles in supporting and encouraging sustainable actions throughout the crew, designating a dedicated crew member to drive the onboard sustainability initiatives is crucial to ensure their implementation. As such, the job description for an “Eco-Sustainability Ambassador” (ESA) has been included within the guidelines to support any crew members with overseeing key action points and championing sustainability practices on the yacht. Collaborating with Heads of Departments (HODs), the ESA customises guidelines, engages the crew, monitors progress, and reports achievements. This dedicated role will help to alleviate the HODs’ workload and streamline processes.
Support for crew members onboard has also emerged from other influential industry players. Luxury Hospitality Management (LH) supports this initiative and aims to help crew implement these guidelines. Peter Vogel, Founder of LH, says: “We wholeheartedly endorse this initiative and understand that instigating behavioural change and reshaping mindset onboard can be challenging. Drawing upon our coaching and training expertise, we are committed to contributing our resources to help facilitate an era where crew eco-consciousness is at the forefront across all departments.”
This initiative aims to cultivate a stronger environmental ethos within yacht crews and become an integral part of their collective identity.
Support needed from yacht management companies
“This project will equip crew with a comprehensive body of knowledge as well as readily accessible practical tools, representing an essential step towards a more sustainable and responsible future for superyacht operations,” shares MB92.
The support of yacht management companies is crucial to ensure widespread adoption of the guidelines and enable a united, coordinated action – setting a minimum standard across the industry. Companies who get involved will be positioned as a leader, contributing to sector-wide change and guiding the way forward for a sustainable yachting future.
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The first version of the highly-anticipated Yacht Environmental Transparency Index was launched at this year’s METSTRADE and shared with key members of the industry. The tool, which scores and compares yachts based on their environmental credentials, emphasises the operational efficiency of a yacht’s lifecycle and tackles ecological impact by benchmarking vessels against an average operational profile. With unrivalled experience and accumulated brain power, the YETI group came together to give valuable insights about the tool that enables the superyacht industry to make more informed decisions for new builds and refit projects.
The launch unveiled the details of YETI 1.0 and its focus on the most impactful part of a yacht’s lifecycle – its operational phase. By expressing the calculated emissions in EcoPoints and dividing such points with the yacht’s gross tonnage, YETI 1.0 determines a score that is relative and comparable within its class. Following regulations and engineering practices, the defined classes are <500, 500-3000GT, and >3000GT. Rather than looking at the entire spectrum, this comparison provides a targeted and informed approach to reduce EcoPoints within each size group, define the best in class, and learn from their optimisation.
To use YETI 1.0, data concerning a vessel’s general parameters, speed-power, load determination, generators, battery bank, and heat distribution system must be submitted on the input sheet. When joining the fleet review, yachts are provided with an extensive feedback report that includes a YETI 1.0 score, explanation of how this score was determined, comparison to the rest of the assessed fleet within a given class, and suggestions for potential areas of improvement.
The importance of YETI 1.0 for the yachting industry
By taking a yacht’s unique operational profile as a benchmark, YETI 1.0 provides scores comparing a single vessel to the rest of the fleet rather than applying the generic approach for commercial ships. YETI scores are calculated based on energy use for propulsion, including expected fuel, shore power consumption, and related emissions. Numerous studies have been conducted as part of the project, including the upstream impacts of fuels, engines and generators, and the average footprint of shore power in the most popular yacht marinas.
YETI 1.0 is paving the way toward a sustainable future in the yachting industry. This robust tool will guide members of the sector, from design and yacht management to new build and refit, in reaching a reduced ecological footprint through the development of better concept designs and concrete upgrades of existing yachts. The tool has also already received interest from marinas, insurance companies and banks who are eager to find a reliable reference for understanding yachts’ environmental credentials.
Industry collaboration is essential for reducing the superyacht sector’s environmental impact, and YETI is a commendable example of the most renowned shipyards, naval architects, and research institutes joining forces to accelerate sustainable change in a transparent and reliable manner. The group, who represent an unrivalled fleet of superyachts with a shared motivation to understand and improve their ecological implications, have reached a new level of industry collaboration by setting competition aside to collaborate on this initiative.
Companies that can support the group with expertise and data are encouraged to take part in this unique collaboration for the upcoming quest to develop YETI 2.0 and expand the tool’s scope beyond operational efficiency. In joining this project, participants will meet regularly to provide insights for YETI’s future progress. This presents an opportunity for captains, engineers, shipyards, naval architects and management companies to complement the group and be involved in the yachting sector’s journey toward sustainability.
How to get involved
You can now submit data for your yacht(s) in order to calculate its YETI score, which will come with a detailed feedback report providing a comparison with the rest of the fleet. “The groundwork has been done, it is now time for the industry and owners to utilise this reliable reference to know where a yacht stands and what opportunities there are to improve its environmental credentials,” said Robert van Tol, executive director of Water Revolution.
Workshops will also be organised for members of the industry to attend a live YETI score calculation in order to better understand the required input, assessment process, and outcomes generated as a single score. This session will reveal how choices are rewarded and showcase how YETI is here to help instead of judge. YETI is far from a black box – the ‘T’ stands for transparency, as only then can we as an industry learn and show progress.
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The first stage of Water Revolution Foundation’s Yacht Environmental Transparency Index (YETI) has been unveiled to the superyacht industry at the recent Superyacht Forum and METSTRADE. It came with a call to action to all relevant superyacht industry actors to get involved. Against the backdrop of COP26 and an increasingly global drive to tackle environmental issues, YETI 1.0 marks the first step of a highly anticipated tool to compare yachts based on their environmental credentials when in operation. The tool will enable client and project teams to make more informed decisions for newbuild projects as well as for upgrading existing yachts, and as such will help drive our industry as a whole towards a cleaner future.
Together towards sustainability
As the foundation celebrated its third anniversary during The Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam, and while speaking to an audience of key industry stakeholders alongside METSTRADE, Feadship CEO and founding chairman Henk de Vries, initiator and vice-chair Dr Vienna Eleuteri and naval architect Giedo Loeff from Feadship De Voogt all emphasised how important the issue is becoming for the future of the superyacht industry. It is among the most impactful tools Water Revolution Foundation is currently developing for the whole industry to use, to help improve the industry as a whole.
How YETI started
The drive to create the index began in 2018, not long after the foundation was born as a not-for-profit organisation with the intent to drive sustainability across the superyacht industry through reducing its environmental impact and re-investing in ocean conservation. YETI stemmed from an approach Feadship De Voogt naval architect Bram Jongepier made to a group of international peers to develop a tool that enables the comparison of yachts and that can better showcase environmentally friendly designs.
After three years of research and intense collaboration across a broad scope of shipyards, naval architects and renowned research institutes, the initial tool is now ready for testing. The collaborators for the initial phase were Abeking & Rasmussen, Benetti, Damen Yachting, De Voogt Studio, Delft University of Technology, Dykstra Naval Architects, Feadship, Fincantieri Yachts, Heesen, Lateral Naval Architects, Lürssen, Marin, MB92, Oceanco, Royal Huisman, Safe Harbor Marinas, Sanlorenzo, TNO Innovation for Life, and Vitruvius Yachts.
YETI 1.0 focuses on the most impactful part of the lifecycle – the operational side of superyachts. “The initial tool calculates the efficiency and the emissions of superyachts, and by being able to calculate these one can also identify the actual environmental impact,” said Giedo Loeff, naval architect at Feadship De Voogt. “A lot of companies answered our requests (for collaboration) and it was a lot of fun to talk about the various subjects. It’s not something we should want to compete over – it’s about knowledge, and really understanding how to reduce the impact we’re creating.”
From the owners’ point of view, De Vries highlighted the change that Feadship has witnessed in the attitudes of yacht clients over the past five years, from where alternative fuels and power solutions were considered too risky by most clients to where sustainability is a key factor in the equation not only for their superyachts but also across their investments.
Dr Vienna Eleuteri, speaking from an industry point of view, added: “The real need coming out of COP26 in Glasgow is that it is the private sector that will make the difference and which will change the world in a very practical and efficient way. We are a really passionate group of people working for the same strategic goal.”
A key part of the first phase has been collating operational information and studying the equivalent of close to 400 combined years of data collected via AIS from more than 100 superyachts. Among other things, the data showed that yachts are typically only underway at speed for 10 per cent of their time, with 56 per cent spent in port and 34 per cent spent at anchor. It is this sort of insight against which it is crucial to benchmark the yachts when assessing the impact from their cruise and hotel operations systems.
YETI wants to be inclusive for the many different types of yachts that are built and therefore it is critical to have all those represented in the fleet review. It should be noted that none gets judged yet, as first the calculator needs to be tested for its robustness by a representative fleet. While YETI 1.0 is a major first step, it is just the first step. It is in this regard that the whole industry now needs to take part. The more data gathered, the more confident YETI can move into the phase of scores and ultimately the different categories, also called labels.
Critical data needed
The data needed for a YETI score consists of energy inputs (fuel, shore power), system power demand (speed-power curve, electric hotel power and heat), and system power (propulsion motors, electric generators, heaters) – all combined with an operating profile. The data collection sheet will be shared upon request with those that wish to contribute to this important development. A feedback report on the yacht(s) is provided and a unique number allocated to follow its score along the further fine tuning of the YETI tool.
Henk de Vries, as chairman of the foundation and a self-proclaimed “worried shipbuilder”, addressed the required survival strategy for the eight years that remain of this decade. “If we do nothing,” he offered, “and we just build the boats that we currently build, then we will be history. There is a solution, and it’s not complicated.”
“The YETI score is something that we want to extend because the more data that we have, the better we can raise individual yachts,” said Loeff. “This is what could be in the future. But there needs to be more data, and there needs to be more participation. Now we are calling for participation.”
It is time to test the YETI 1.0 calculator through an extensive fleet review. The more yachts entered in the index, the better the calculator logic applies. So this is a call for shipyards, yacht management companies, and captains to submit as many yachts as possible, as well as for engine manufacturers to share the data emissions sheets of the engines installed in current and future yachts in the fleet.
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A group of prominent shipyards has committed to setup a structural approach for reinvestment into the regeneration and conservation of our precious oceans. They now call on fellow yacht builders to join them in this important commitment.
Abeking & Rasmussen, Ameryachts, Baglietto, Feadship, Gulf Craft, Heesen Yachts, Horizon Yachts, Lürssen Yachts, Oceanco, Royal Huisman, Sanlorenzo, Silveryachts, Southern Wind, Tankoa, Turquoise Yachts, and Vitters are the first builders that have agreed to reinvest based on the Gross Tonnage (GT) of yachts they deliver.
The importance and logic of ocean conservation for the yachting sector
From 2021 onwards, the United Nations declared the next 10 years the ‘Ocean Decade’, aiming to catalyse transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the excess heat generated by global warming and are taking in over 25% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them the planet’s largest carbon sinks. In short, the oceans’ health determines all life on Earth.
The builders are also well aware that without healthy oceans there is no sustainable future for the yachting sector. It is therefore logical that the entire yachting community would take on the role of ocean stewards – not as philanthropy, but as an investment in our common future.
“Today, an innovative approach towards ecological transition is about acknowledging the ocean-climate nexus and the central role of marine ecosystem conservation for a healthy planet,” says Dr Vienna Eleuteri, Water Revolution Foundation’s initiator and sustainability scientist. “I am very pleased with this group of builders taking the lead in setting up structural reinvestment by the yachting sector to regenerate our oceans.”
Taking real action means simultaneously reducing our environmental impact while regenerating the oceans’ capacity to recover from negative impacts. For the latter, we need to embrace nature’s very own solutions and weapons against climate change. Marine mammals and their marine ecosystems play a crucial role and therefore their natural habitats need to be protected as blue carbon ecosystems.
Import Marine Mammal Areas
The entirety of funds collected will go to Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs), endorsed by Water Revolution Foundation and promoted as one of the most effective programmes for ocean conservation among the entire yachting community to support.
IMMAs is an existing programme of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. The premise of this programme is simple: when seeking to protect the ocean, we need to know where to start.
Through identifying the areas important for marine mammals, these can be prioritised for protection measures by governments, intergovernmental organisations, conservation groups, and marine stakeholders. This does not automatically mean banning human activities – in fact, it is about aligning human activities with the needs of nature, so-called ‘sustainable ocean use’. By being aware and adapting to nature’s needs, all marine human activity – including yachting – can operate in a much more conscious way at these critical areas. The IMMA programme works very well too for yacht crew to participate through citizen science.
With 159 IMMAs already established across the Southern Hemisphere, the scientists behind the IMMA programme are now looking to the Northern Hemisphere. In total, there are nine regions of the ocean still to be mapped. The North Atlantic is next up, which is the common crossing route for yachts and superyachts between the Mediterranean and Caribbean seasons.
What is the commitment?
The shipyards are committing to contributing the amount of €1 per gross ton they delivered in 2021. For each new yacht delivered, the yards will match the gross tonnage in euros and reinvest this via Water Revolution Foundation into IMMA for its North Atlantic project which starts in early 2022.
The amount of €1 per GT is based on the €555,000 target funding needed to start the two-year North Atlantic IMMA project. This target amount was divided by the 455,000 total expected GT to be delivered in 2021 and rounded off to €1. The builders that committed have so far delivered around 60,000 GT in 2021.
Call to action
The first committed yacht builders now call on their colleagues to join in on this commitment and choose the coordinated approach to raise the required funding for this important ocean conservation programme. The yards also encourage other players in the yachting sector to band together and make a similar commitment to protect what is most dear and critical to our common future.
At a time where the focus is on countries and politicians at the COP26 in Glasgow for international action to tackle climate change, industry plays a key role too. Instead of waiting for legislation, taking our own measures to reduce and regenerate will be more constructive, more appreciated and therefore most effective.
Note that this coordinated contribution to ocean conservation is not meant to offset the impact of the yachts delivered nor their production processes, but to structure reinvestment by builders into the most critical natural resource for the yachting sector and to reach the target funding for IMMAs, as the first collectively supported ocean conservation programme.