Environmental Plan

Educational Tall Ship Inc.

2330 Marinship Way, Suite #150

Sausalito, CA 94965


Environmental Plan



Living Building Challenge







The Educational Tall Ship for San Francisco will be designed, built and operated as a vessel that is in harmony with the environment of the sea and the land. We at ETS understand that a sailing ship does not just sail upon the sea, but voyages as part of the marine environment. As well, as the marine environment interacts with the terrestrial environment we will make every effort to understand the vessels interactions with the greater environment through time.

The ETS Project will incorporate the latest innovations in sustainability and environmentally sound methods from start to finish. This “cradle-to-cradle” approach will be followed through in all aspects of design, construction, administration and operation of the vessel.

ETS will be working closely with the International Living Future Institute to become the world’s first “Living” sailing vessel. Following the guidelines of the “Living Building Challenge”, ETS will aspire to attain all of the benchmarks of the challenge and thus attain a level of sustainability never before documented in a vessel of this magnitude. The Living Building Challenge sets a completely new standard for the built environment that far exceeds those of the now generally accepted LEED standards set out by the United States Green Building Council. By achieving the level of “Living Ship” we will prove that constructing and operating a vessel in a truly sustainable and environmentally harmonious way is indeed possible and practical.

In this report we will lay out the major aspects of the project and propose possible ways in which sustainability and minimal impact can be applied and achieved. While the ETS program will make every effort to maintain these benchmarks and principals, it should be noted that time constraints and current conditions may make it necessary to implement aspects of the program outside these parameters.

Living Building Challenge

Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy tool and certification program that addresses development at all scales. It is comprised of seven performance areas: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity and Beauty. These are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence.

The purpose of the Living Building Challenge is straightforward – it defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to diminish the gap between current limits and ideal solutions. Living Building Challenge provides a framework for design, construction and the symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment.


Maybe the most important aspect of making the ETS a sustainable, environmentally friendly sailing vessel is in the design process. Through the expert design of Tri-Coastal Marine and its president, Andy Davis N.A., every aspect of sustainability will be considered during the design phase of the ETS.

The initial design will determine the overall performance of the vessel, how she sails and her overall energy consumption and environmental impact over her lifetime. As well, the design phase will account for waste streams, both in construction and operation. While it is always possible to “tweak” existing systems and replace and repair improperly functioning systems, the initial design is where the greatest gains in sustainable operation can be accomplished.

During the design phase the ETS project will stress the importance of the ease of retrofitting, decommissioning, and replacement of systems. In the natural life of a vessel it is necessary to exchange systems for many reasons including attrition, recent innovations and damage. Replacing systems can be both labor intensive and costly in terms of materials. Through innovative design the ETS will make it economical, in time and materials, to replace systems as well as account for how replaced systems will be decommissioned and reused as other products or recycled into new waste streams. As well, lumber, fasteners, adhesives, coatings, ropes, sails and other materials for construction and operation will be considered according to the appropriateness of their application.

A.) The Hybrid drive

Maybe the most important aspect of the ETS’s sustainability goals is an innovative and revolutionary hybrid drive. While hybrid drives are not completely unknown in maritime systems, the ETS drive is unique in its design and application. Being primarily an electric drive, several peripheral systems will aid in the powering and recharging of the battery bank that powers the motor. Most importantly the vessel’s own drive motors will provide charging energy while under sail and sometimes while at anchor.

We calculate the proposed “multiple-generation” systems will provide enough energy to the vessel to make her completely energy independent under normal circumstances and conditions.

B.) Low-energy, sustainable systems

The engineered systems aboard ETS will be of the highest quality and lowest energy consumption available at the time of construction.

Lighting systems

ETS design will provide for the maximum amount of natural lighting to be available below decks. This will be accomplished through “top deck skylights” as well as “light tunnels” where possible. The natural light systems will be augmented with low-energy LED lighting when natural light is not available. LED’s afford not only the lowest possible energy consumption, but low energy manufacture and minimal disposal hazards.


The highest quality and most efficient electronics will be utilized. Not only will energy efficiency reduce the vessels overall need for power, but high quality electronics last longer thus reducing the constant need for replacement.

Water Desalinization

ETS will be equipped with state of the art water desalinization systems to provide all of the potable water needed to operate the vessel. Modern desalinization systems run off of the vessel’s electrical system and thus potable water will be provided through the regenerative power provided by the hybrid system as well as by the solar shore power.

On-board Waste Water Treatment

In recent years relative low-power consumptive composting toilets have been developed for use in several applications, including marine environments. These toilets treat waste with low water consumption and low electrical consumption, and render the waste to a level that it is safe to discharge into the water. This, combined with the use of biodegradable soaps for washing and cleaning, and the composting of all solid food wastes will allow the vessel to operate with almost no waste stream.


The most important aspect of the construction phase as it relates to the environment is the proper use, sourcing and disposal of construction materials. While this is true, many gains and savings will also be accomplished through peripheral processes that go along with the construction process. It is this holistic and inclusive approach that will make the construction of the ETS a model for all future projects of this type. As well, we hope that these innovative construction processes will both inspire and inform marine construction projects of all types.

A.) Sustainable and Environmentally Conscious Materials

1.) Wood

Wood is the primary building material and also the most eco-effective. Wood can be salvaged and reused many times, ultimately naturally decaying and returning to the earth as a biological nutrient. The Pacific Coast is home to vast forests that in the pasthave been largely overcut and managed in an unsustainable manner. Short-term investment goals and lack of concern for the long-range consequences have been driving forest management policies on private and public lands for 150 years. Over the past two decades, there has been a welcome reversal of the technology and policies practiced by the forestry industry. New demands by consumers and long-range environmentally-conscious thinking by forest owners have changed how forest industries conduct business. Our Ship will be built from regionally harvested Forest Stewardship Certified lumber. “Stewardship forestry” is the art and science of managing forests to provide the full range of goods and services that society has come to expect from them. These include wood products, of course, but they also include fish and wildlife habitat, watershed functions, biodiversity, scenery and recreation, and a variety of non-wood commercial products, such as mushrooms and other edibles, medicinals and decoratives. The sequestration of carbon to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions is increasingly seen as another important service provided by forests. The best forests for providing this range of goods and services are those with a diverse natural structure of native species, differentaged trees, standing snags, down wood, and complex ecological processes—in short, many of the characteristics we associate with older forests. Stewardship forestry employs management and harvest techniques that foster these qualities.


Metals are the next largest component and can be classified as “technical nutrients” if they are properly recycled back into the production stream. As an example, forty tons of lead will be safely contained and sequestered when used as ballast and batteries aboard our ship. Lead, with a low melting temperature, can easily be returned into the product stream indefinitely. Copper-based alloys that will hold the ship together and be used in electrical wiring and electrical components can be simply recycled as a “technical nutrient.” Smaller amounts of steel and stainless steel will also be returned for reuse. More problematic however, are the very small amounts of rare metals that are used in shipboard electronics and will require sophisticated recovery methods. Through responsible reuse and recycling we will insure that ETS has a minimal negative impact in it’s use of metals.


Paints and glues can be a source of pollution in their production, application and end-cycle due in part to the difficulty of isolating, retrieving and recycling these substances. Fortunately today there are many better options available than ever before. For example, marine bottom paints were designed in the past to be as toxic as possible to organisms that grow on boat bottoms, without regard to the impact on the larger marine environment. Driven by consumer demand for “greener” products and tighter environmental regulations, new paints are now available that work just as well to keep bottoms clean and are considered eco-friendly. As well, new paints and coatings have been developed that actually capture and sequester harmful chemicals such as VOC’s. These coatings can be used on the interiors of the vessel to mitigate off-gassing from materials and equipment and keep indoor air quality at the highest possible level.


Plastics represent a more difficult challenge. While many can be recycled they are usually down-cycled and quickly become less valuable ending up in landfills or disposed of as fuel in incinerators with environmental consequences that are not fully understood. All electronics and computers contain hard-to-recycle plastics and exotic heavy metals and complex toxic compounds. Few manufacturers consider the end-game of their products or take responsibility after they are sold. We will look for the best outcome for every piece of electronics that comes aboard our educational tall ship.

Dacron Sails and lines represent the largest plastic component used onboard our sailing ship. While it is tempting to consider going back to cotton sails and natural fiber ropes, modern sailors know the huge advantage in efficiency and longevity that Dacron offers. We are researching the fate of recycled Dacron generically referred to as PET. When virgin PET plastic is recycled, it loses a very small amount of its “rigid” qualities. This is such a subtle loss of rigidity, that you would not begin to notice a difference in the strength of the material until it had gone through the recycling process many times. There is a non-mechanical recycling process being developed that breaks down the materials within the PET plastic to their base building blocks so that they can be recombined to create essentially virgin quality PET. This has the potential of making PET plastic infinitely recyclable without any loss of physical properties and returning it for new uses.

B.) Proper Procurement Procedures

Another often overlooked aspect of construction activity is the procurement process. All too often little thought goes into the locality of the materials source and amounts procured. ETS will take great care in sourcing materials from the nearest practical locale as well as being precise in the amount and size of materials procured in order to minimize waste.

Additionally, the ETS team will scour defunct and operating shipyards for appropriate materials that might be repurposed or reused during the construction process. As stated above, when proper care does not go into the procurement process often unnecessary or superfluous materials get ordered. These materials often sit in long-term storage at shipyards or other facilities to a point where they risk decay past their usefulness. The ETS team plans to seek out these materials at local shipyards and other possible venues and use them where appropriate for the construction of ETS.

Procurement will also be done on an “on-time” basis, doing our best to reduce the area needed for storage and thus minimizing the area needed for the construction process.

C.) Shops and Tools

The ETS project will do our best to locate and utilize traditional tools and repurpose equipment from other projects. There is a wealth of traditional tools and equipment that lay silent in defunct facilities and closed businesses. As manufacturing in the marine industry has waned in the past decades many boatyards and other facilities have shut down their operations. Much of the machinery deemed obsolete was un-sellable. Much of this machinery was actually part of the original construction process of historic tall ships. By utilizing these machines and tools where possible we will not only preserve part of the construction heritage of tall ships, but also diminish the need to consume the resources needed to produce new tools and equipment.

The ETS workshops will be arranged and powered in the most efficient possible manner. If available we will acquire a site that allows for the utilization of renewable energy sources such as photovoltaic solar and wind energy. We plan to offer hands-on learning opportunities that will not only teach and preserve skills, but share our commitment to environmental excellence. Once again we aim to make this facility a model that will help to educate groups brought on to participate in the project as well as inform future marine construction projects.


As with our shops and work site, ETS offices will do their best to adhere to the best possible practices as regards to efficiency and waste. Recycling and reusing where possible and only generating necessary waste. High-efficiency lighting and office equipment will also be a high priority. Reused and repurposed materials will be incorporated into the administrative process wherever practical.


In operation, it is the aim of the project to make ETS completely carbon neutral while under sail. The hybrid drive, the use of solar and wind energy and the utilization of efficient systems will make this goal possible. Even so, we have no plans to skimp on amenities or modern equipment. ETS will be a model for how a low-impact or no-impact sailing vessel can be operated without sacrificing safety or comfort.

To forward our aims at making the ETS the most environmentally forward thinking vessel at sea, we will include both onboard and shore side laboratories. These laboratories will enable kids and any other participants in the ETS sailing programs to explore and understand their marine habitat like no school class room ever could. Our sailing groups will not only learn to sail upon the water but understand their marine environment and become more attuned to their natural habitat.


The ETS project is making every attempt to make it the most environmentally conscious vessel sailing today. Through proper design, attentive construction techniques and “best-practices” administration and operation the ETS will provide the cutting edge Tall Ship program that a first-class city like San Francisco deserves.


For More Information Contact:

Matt Suddaby

Educational Tall Ship

2330 Marinship Way, Suite 150

Sausalito, CA 94965