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By Megan Hickling

Highlighting eco-innovations

The new and improved Hub of Verified Solutions from Water Revolution Foundation…

Water Revolution Foundation has relaunched its public Hub of Verified Solutions. The Hub provides an opportunity for the industry to combat greenwashing and promote truly better solutions which contribute to making superyachts more sustainable.

Water Revolution has recently added new products to its Hub of Verified Solutions. The newly updated version of what was previously called The Database of Sustainable Solutions was launched in May and is now publicly available to all. Solutions included in the Hub currently range from permanent washable air filters to antifouling coating, underwater LED lighting and a smart air-conditioning system.

To be in the Hub of Verified Solutions, Water Revolution states the solutions must “demonstrate superior environmental performance compared to the Business-As-Usual alternative”. In this case, the business-as-usual alternative is defined by Water Revolution as the most widely used product/service on the market within the same category at the time of verification.

The verification method starts with a meeting to better understand the solution, and if the Water Revolution team is convinced of potential environmental savings, they proceed with the verification process, which involves a third party completing a life cycle assessment (LCA) according to ISO standard 14040/44.

This assessment will look at the entire life cycle of both the improved and business-as-usual options, measuring the impacts using nine environmental categories based on the trusted and commonly used ReCiPe LCA methodology. These selected categories are photochemical oxidation, global warming, ozone layer depletion, acidification, particulate matter, water scarcity footprint, eutrophication, NOx emissions and SOx emissions; these categories will then be aggregated into one ecopoint.

These categories have been selected by Water Revolution’s scientific research partners who are supporting it in this analysis. They are primarily university spin-offs, such as Tetis Institute SRL (University of Genoa spin-off), Alea Srl and LCA Working Group (both Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia spin-offs). The collaboration involves one institute conducting the LCA assessment and another carrying out a thorough peer review of the results. These categories were chosen, as Water Revolution describes it, as the most “relevant to the shipbuilding and superyacht industries”.

Those who have already completed an LCA for a product/service can provide this and other sufficient information providing evidence of the improved environmental performance of the product.

Once this part of the process is complete, the results will be analysed by Water Revolution and these scientific partners, and if there is a reduction in the eco point, and at least five of the nine environmental indicators, the solution will be verified and added to the Hub. Overall, the process is expected to take between three and seven months depending on the length of time needed to gather and process all the required information for the newly public website where all of these solutions will be found alongside a short description of the product alongside an overview of the impact savings it results in. However it’s not just a once-and-done scenario, Water Revolution will continue to review the solution, ensuring the products remain an environmentally preferred alternative.

Currently, there are 12 verified solutions, and Water Revolution divulged that there are currently eight more being evaluated. Alongside featuring on the website, the Hub of Verified Solutions will also be promoted in person by Water Revolution during events such as the METSTRADE Sustainability Route and Monaco Yacht Show’s Sustainability Hub. In addition to this, the solutions will be further promoted through Water Revolution initiatives such as the Sustainable Yacht Design Taskforce, which works to further its mission of propelling “environmentally friendlier yacht design”, as they call it.

Alongside more additions to the Hub of Verified Solutions, the other future development will be the inclusion of environmental product declarations, as they put it, “to further enhance transparency and information accessibility”. This is because the report associated with the Environmental Product Declaration, based on another ISO standard, will include a summary of LCA results, environmental impact data and other relevant information, which will similarly prove it is an environmentally preferred alternative.

As stated on the website, the cost of the verification process is 10,000 euros, which is at cost-price. As well as being promoted by Water Revolution through the Hub and in-person events, the larger value of this process will come from the completed LCA. This assessment will be able to show and inform the company of the assessed product/service of the details of its environmental impact, including hotspot activities within the life cycle that contribute the largest effect on the environmental impact. Even if a solution doesn’t have enough comparative reductions to be verified, there can be lots of information available through this process to understand how to best improve impact and so be verified in the future.

The importance of a trustworthy, reliable resource such as this Hub is key to further improving our industry’s impact. This is particularly bolstered by the third-party involvement with the verification, reducing potential bias in the process and providing expertise and authenticity in the results. The other major benefits of this Hub come from it being one clear and concise location to go to find these solutions and understand how they are better than the business as usual choices.

While many now understand the importance of improving environmental impact, it can be hard to find solutions to implement to achieve this, often requiring thorough research and comparison to make the decision. Having this resource as a go-to for those involved in refit and new-build designs to find better impact alternatives should hopefully mean a higher uptake in using these solutions and hence overall improve the industry’s impact.

The promotion of these options shows that it’s possible to integrate improved sustainability on board through many different elements of a superyacht, further raising the bar in understanding of what’s possible, and normalising improved solutions, potentially raising the bar for sustainability-related expectations.

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