GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Port of Gulfport is committed to "going green". But in this case, it's more than just a slogan. The port has been recognized for its environmental stewardship.
"We're pleased to announce that the Mississippi State Port Authority is officially a Green Marine certified port," said port authority board chairman, John Rester, at a Friday afternoon news conference and celebration.
Being recognized as Green Marine required a rigorous review that looked at all aspects of the port's impact on the environment. The port must pledge to exceed regulatory requirements.
"By undertaking concrete and measurable actions to exceed regulatory requirements in areas such as air, land and water emissions," said Rester.
"We do have a responsibility, not only to the port, but to the community and the State of Mississippi, that we conduct our operations in the most efficient and green manner that we can," said port executive director, Jonathan Daniels.
One example of environmental stewardship involves the type of equipment used by the port.
"We're going to move from our primary diesel, mobile harbor cranes to three electric gantry cranes, that will arrive in March of 2016. That is a $30 million investment," said Daniels.
The Mayor of Gulfport says it's about being a responsible business and being responsive to the community.
"Making sure that this continues to be a good place to live, work and play. And the quality of life is part of how we treat our environment and move forward," said Mayor Billy Hewes.
One of the port's largest trucking partners now features a "green fleet" of fuel efficient, lower emission tractor-trailers.
"Investing costs some money. There's no question about that. But we think it's the right thing to do. But also we do get some cost savings in the back end," said Russell Wooten, of KLLM Transport.
Keeping the Green Marine certification will require periodic reviews of the port's environmental performance in order to ensure its compliance. One of the "green initiatives" at the Port of Gulfport is a plan to enhance the entrance, with landscaping and energy efficient, LED lighting.