The Environment – Our Gift and Responsibility

Over a decade ago, The Port of Virginia set our sights on ensuring a cleaner, more sustainable future. We began investigating new and emerging technologies, enabling us to equally serve the needs of our customers and the environment. The port is now using electric and hybrid technologies at our two largest container terminals, and new projects to reduce environmental impacts are underway at our facilities in Richmond and Front Royal. Our mission is clear and our sights are set. We encourage you to join us and make a commitment to care for our people and our planet.

Small barge. Large Impact.

In 2020, Virginia celebrated the 12th anniversary of the 64 Express barge service. The service connects Richmond Marine Terminal with The Port of Virginia’s cargo terminals in Hampton Roads, via the James River. The three-times-weekly barge service moved 42,254 containers in 2020 – 12% growth over the prior year and the best year in the barge’s history.

Accounting for additional barge traffic that travels from The Port of Virginia’s facilities in Hampton Roads, up and back on the Chesapeake Bay, total Virginia barge volume is nearly 60,000 containers. Lined up end-to-end, that equates to nearly 500 miles of trucks.  Every container moving by barge creates an environmental benefit, offering a safe and sustainable transportation alternative.

From Road to River: Barge Services moves more volume with less impact

Caring for our customers - and the environment

Tiffany Green, Operational Lead for Expansion Projects, explains how the way we reimagined our largest container terminals has become a model of efficiency and sustainability.

The Return of the Oysters

Making sure that our waterways are safe, clean, and healthy is vitally important to us. For 20 years, The Elizabeth River Project has recognized our efforts in pollution prevention, stormwater control initiatives, and habitat restoration – including the development of oyster reefs and wetlands.

When we use land for port operations, we must replace those areas to maintain balance. As a component of our Craney Island Eastern Expansion mitigation plan, work continues on the development of a network of local oyster reefs, which offer shelter and food to numerous coastal species. These oyster reefs also buffer coasts from waves, reduce erosion, and create calmer waters that support the growth of coastal marshes and seagrass beds. In recent years, The Port of Virginia partnered with Christopher Newport University, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create and establish oyster reefs at five different locations throughout Hampton Roads. Information gained through the study of these oysters reefs will assist in the planning of new reefs in our region.

We regularly monitor the health and production of newly constructed reefs, enabling us to make informed decisions regarding future mitigation efforts.
“In recent years, I have been privileged to join a number of Christopher Newport University students in partnering with The Port of Virginia on their ongoing oyster reef restoration projects. This critical initiative serves many purposes; none more important than improving water quality in the Elizabeth and Lafayette Rivers. Adaptive management strategies in use today, as well as those planned for the future, will surely benefit other oyster mitigation and restoration projects within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and beyond. A sustainable oyster population creates multiple benefits for our Region.”
Russell P. Burke, Ph.D.
Lecturer of Biology
Dept. of Organismal & Environmental Biology
Christopher Newport University
“The non-profit Elizabeth River Project is pleased to count The Port of Virginia as an active, longstanding and vitally important partner in the restoration of the environmental health of the Elizabeth River. The port recently earned its 20th year of recognition by peer review in our voluntary program, River Star Businesses, based on exemplary achievements in pollution prevention and wildlife habitat. We recently presented the port with the Sustained Distinguished Performance award at Model Level for avoided transportation emissions and continual improved efficiencies at Norfolk International Terminals.”
Marjorie Mayfield Jackson
Executive Director
Elizabeth River Project

Offshore wind - powering Virginia's future

Hayes Framme, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Communications for Ørsted's North American Offshore division shares how Virginia's workforce is ideal for this industry and sets us up to lead the US into a new, more sustainable future. (footage courtesy of Orsted and Dominion)
The Port of Virginia’s Green Operator Program, the first voluntary truck replacement program among U.S. ports, continues to grow and prosper. In calendar year 2020, more than 1 million containers arrived at, or departed from, our facilities by truck. By partnering with motor carriers to invest in newer, cleaner technology, we are improving the quality of life for our neighbors, and the financial performance of our motor carrier community.

Since 2006, the Green Operator program has served as the catalyst for over 480 truck owners to replace or retrofit their trucks. Newer, more environmentally friendly models can reduce harmful emissions by more than 30%.
“As an enterprise committed to sustainability, the Port of Virginia protects and improves the natural environment, ensures economic opportunities, and listens to and lifts up the diverse voices of its community neighbors and stakeholders. EcoLogix Group was founded on these same principles, and that’s why we are so proud to be part of the Green Operator Program since 2015. Through Green Operator, the Port of Virginia has taken meaningful steps to reduce air emissions and increase the reliability of cargo movement by investing more than $2 million in upgrading the equipment of many small business truck owners & operators engaged in moving vital goods. The Port of Virginia looks to the future as it continues to invest in this successful partnership program.”
Rick Sheckells
Managing Principal
EcoLogix Group, Inc.

Investment allows for the deployment of multiple assets - benefitting our customers

Rob Cannizzaro, V.P. of Operations, highlights Virginia's advantages in handling ultra-large container vessels; reminds us that sustainability is a daily pursuit.
VW Settlement
$14M received in 2020 to offset cost of 2 electric STS cranes at NIT and demonstrate capabilities of electric yard tractors in the marine terminal environment
"The Port of Virginia has proven to be a great partner in protecting and sustaining Virginia's environmental health. The port has regularly been recognized by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Virginia Environmental Excellence Program as an Extraordinary Environmental Enterprise (E4). This recognition is reserved for organizations maintaining a fully-implemented environmental management system and committed to sustainable environmental progress and community involvement. A prime example: The port's focus on reduced emissions, through the procurement of electrified and hybrid cargo equipment, has been significant."

Craig R. Nicol
Director, Tidewater Regional Office
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

Diesel Emission Reduction Act
Three total grants received SINCE 2013 to support the Purchase of 22 hybrid shuttle carriers, totaling more than $5M in federal Investment
Hybrid Shuttle Carriers Provide a 90%+ reduction in all emissions (NOx, SOx, PM10, CO2), compared to Tier II Diesel Strads
Hybrid shuttle carriers use ~45% less fuel than the diesel strads

Our Certifications

At The Port of Virginia, we continue to build upon our comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS), to ensure we are always acting in accordance with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) guidelines. ISO standards are internationally agreed upon by subject matter experts. They're a list of best practices created and upheld by the people who understand those issues best.

In 2008, Virginia was recognized as the first East Coast port to meet and exceed requirements for the ISO 14001 standard. Thirteen years later, we remain in compliance with the most current ISO 14001:2015 standard. Our Environmental Management System is holistic – covering assets, infrastructure and processes at all port terminals and facilities. This distinction sets us apart from our competing ports.

We work hard to make sure our Environmental Management System and Quality Management System – which is also certified to the ISO 9001:2015 standard – work together for the greater good. Our risk management and procurement processes are also included in our EMS, allowing us to emphasize environmentally friendly purchases whenever possible.

Simply put, these initiatives illustrate to our customers, partners and neighbors that are committed to doing things the right way.
“(With ISO 14001) You have to educate your people. You have to live it, breathe it and be enthusiastic about it. With an inspection coming up in two months, you cannot say, ‘Ok, we’ll get ready for it.’ You must strive to be ready for it daily. It comes down to continuous education and continuous efforts to find better, non-toxic, natural materials. Going hybrid (for cargo handling equipment) is good, but that’s just the beginning.”
Scott Myers
Manager, Crane Maintenance

Virginia's Secretary of Transportation - A perspective on sustainability

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine shares why it's so important that Virginia's agencies move together toward a more sustainable future.