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Covering All Bases: Heesen Yachts on Being Green

By Anna Solomon

With industries the world over pushing for eco-friendliness, it is generally agreed that it is time for yachting to join the fray. This is certainly the consensus at shipbuilding giant Heesen, whose team have agreed to speak to us on how they are tackling the problem of energy and emissions in boat building...

There are a number of avenues that shipyards can go down to reduce the impact that their yachts have on the environment. From the materials used during construction, the fuel burned once the vessel is cruising, there are a million things to think about. “It goes a lot deeper than simply reducing a carbon footprint,” says Heesen, “Working on the hull optimisation is the first step, as it makes yachts more fuel efficient, energy efficient and cost efficient.” This focus on hull optimisation is reflected in Heesen’s long standing partnership with naval architects Van Oossanen; the two industry tycoons work together to create cutting edge yachts that are fitted with the patented Fast Displacement Hull Form. 

By Heesen’s own admission, focussing on any one area of eco-yachting is counterproductive. Green yachting needs to be comprehensive in order for it to be meaningful, and the shipyard are determined to cover as many bases as possible: “We have a number of different initiatives, both in terms of in-house yacht design and external charities,” says Heesen. 

These initiatives have made the Dutch builder the go-to for hybrid propulsion and smart technology in the world, especially since the launch of flagship yacht M/Y Home: “Home is propelled by a hybrid of both diesel mechanical and diesel electrical, power sources can be used simultaneously or independently, reducing noise, vibration and increasing efficiency,” Heesen explains.

Heesen’s broad-spectrum approach to green yachting continues with their philanthropic initiatives. The admirable rationale behind these is that yachting relies on the world’s oceans, and that the industry should give something back. “We are proud supporters of various charities, including the Blue Marine Foundation (dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable fishing models), the Water Foundation (a non-profit strategic philanthropy working to transform how we manage water in the West), and Join The Pipe (the first social community of tap water drinkers),” says Heesen.

Although the drive to be green comes from all different directions, including clients commissioning yachts, Heesen do not need any external motivation to head the eco-friendly movement. “We like to lead from the front, which is why when we build on spec, we implement all of the latest technological advances into our projects,” the team explains, “If we build greener yachts, then our clients buy greener yachts, whether it’s a priority of theirs or not.” As for pressures from legislative and regulatory bodies, once again, Heesen make sure that they are always ahead of the curve - they were the first yard to comply to IMO tier III with M/Y Aquamarine.

Although Heesen concedes that yachting can never be ‘green’ in its truest form - at least not with the level of expertise and resources that we currently have - it argues that this ‘all or nothing’ approach is reductive. Just because we have not stamped out the industry’s carbon footprint, this does not devalue the efforts of those working hard to implement change. What Heesen can do, within the parameters of continuing to provide quality vessels to their customers, is challenge the industry’s perception of what it means to be green.

"We have a number of different initiatives, both in terms of in-house yacht design and external charities."

Heesen

"We have a number of different initiatives, both in terms of in-house yacht design and external charities."

Heesen
By Anna Solomon
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