HISWA symposium spotlights WRF’s yacht eco-rating tool

By Robert Wielaard

WRF Chairman Henk de Vries

AMSTERDAM – The Water Revolution Foundation, an Amsterdam-based group of 26 superyacht builders, designers and knowledge centers, has presented to the industry the first details of a yacht sustainability index to force builders to make greener vessels.

“I think we can get very close to zero-emission yachts already now,” says Bram Jongepier of De Voogt Naval Architects, a Feadship unit. “The next decade is one of energy transition. (Superyacht) owners should be stimulated to invest in future-proof yachts.”

Speaking at the 2020 HISWA Symposium on Yacht Design and Yacht Construction (Nov.16-17), he said the WRF was making good tracks in developing a yacht assessment tool to measure any yacht’s environmental impact. Called YETI (for Yacht Environment Transparency Index), the tool now exists in its “1.0 beta version,” added Jongepier.

The YETI project runs in parallel to WRF’s Yacht Assessment Tool. YETI is an index to compare and rate yachts based on their environmental credentials, while the assessment tool is able to environmentally assess individual yachts or specific onboard systems in detail as feedback tool and decision support system.

Until now, it was not possible to measure a superyacht’s environmental impact for lack of such a tool. The one developed by WRF takes into consideration the unique type of vessel a superyacht is, does a life cycle assessment and calculates its environmental impact based on 10 key environmental indicators.

The goal is to enable the industry to rate superyachts, or part of them, do a life cycle review and set targets for improvements. Jongepier said the YETI must be believable, accurate and rooted in science. He added that’s why several knowledge centers are involved in YETI’s development.

Once operational, it will rate yachts’ environmental impact with ecopoints, much like those colored bar labels on fridges, TVs and microwave ovens. YETI will consider a range of impact factors: sail or motor propulsion, build material and impact, engine characteristics, power use, hotel loads, exhaust system, battery types, etc. As builders track the yachts they have built, they have much information on how any yacht is used, how often and to what destinations.

As a rule, says Jongepier, a superyacht’s build impact accounts for 10% of the total. “The operational impact accounts for 90%.”

In developing YETI, an issue of concern was that the end product should not stoke competition, leading builders to exploit loopholes “to create the best outcomes for them from the calculations,” says Jongepier.

To keep the YETI and its users honest and reliable, its development was put in the hands of the WRF by the world’s biggest yacht builders. Recently, Credit Suisse and the Monaco Yacht Club, in collaboration with German builder Nobiskrug, launched a rival program. Called the Superyacht Eco Association (SEA) Index, it aspires to become a global industry standard in time.