The Port of San Diego's three-year-old Green Port Program to make significant progress in its efforts to minimize the impact of port operations on the environment, according to a port statement.

It said: “A review of the program's third-year accomplishments demonstrates that the port is continuing to decrease its energy and water use, improve air quality and prepare for the predicted impact of sea level rise in the coming years.”

The Green Port Program, which was started in 2008, is designed to put port environmental goals into practice. Since its inception, the port has received more than $4.2 million in grant funding, which has helped pay for the installation of equipment to power docked cruise ships by an electrical source, and to provide financial assistance for truck operators to install special diesel-emissions filters or replace older model vehicles.

The accomplishments of the Green Port Program were outlined in a report delivered on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011, to the Board of Port Commissioners.

"Significant progress has been made within the Green Port Program since its inception in early 2008," said Cody Hooven, a senior environmental specialist, in the report to the seven-member Port Commission. "The staff is dedicated to continuing our efforts to identify ways to enhance the Green Port Program and realize cost savings, which is an inherent benefit of environmental sustainability efforts.

The annual review of the Green Port Program included these highlights:

• The new Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier and public event center that opened last December, has won a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certificate. The U.S. Green Building Council issues the certification, which recognizes environmental features of new buildings that are designed to conserve water and energy, reduce emissions and improve environmental quality. A portion of the pavilion's power is supplied through a photovoltaic system resulting in energy savings. Natural ventilation is provided by large louvers and fans that keep the building cool during the warm months. White rooftop paint helps reflect light and heat away from the building. Additional sustainable features include low-flow water fixtures, energy-efficient light fixtures and shorepower equipment, which allows docked cruise ships to plug into the electrical grid, eliminating the need to idle diesel engines.

• The port's water use has dropped by 38 percent in the past three years. Much of the reduction resulted when turf in parks and other port property was replaced with water-wise landscaping. The port has saved $154,000 on its water bill thanks to these projects.

• Energy needs have been reduced port-wide. The reduction is equivalent to the power needed for 45 houses for an entire year.

• Fifty-four port tenants are participating in the Port of San Diego's and San Diego Gas and Electric’s year-long Green Business Challenge, and effort to help port tenant businesses reduce their water and energy needs.

• The carbon footprint for port buildings and its vehicle fleet has been reduced by 11.8 percent, partly because port employees are more aware of energy efficient strategies, such as turning off lights, and preventive maintenance of port vehicles.

• The port is developing what is called a Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan , or Climate MAP, that will identify ways to address greenhouse gas emissions on tidelands and prepare for sea level rise in the coming years.

• The port established a Clean Truck Program that requires trucks using the marine cargo terminals to meet minimum emissions standards.

• Composting and e-waste events resulted in the diversion of 4,600 pounds of material from the local landfill.

Brisha Cordella, customer programs advisor for San Diego Gas and Electric praised the port for its green initiatives. The port and SDG&E are partnering on various projects, including the Green Business Challenge.

"I would like to take this opportunity to emphasize what an amazing effort the Green Port Program is," Cordella said.