Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Greenwashing on the high seas: WHY?

Wally, a “brokerage and charter service of sail and power boats in futuristic design” has partnered with Hermes, a design company famous for its luxury products, to create the WHY – Wally Hermes Yacht – which debuted last month at the Abu Dhabi Yachts Show and has been touted for its green features.

Really? A Green Yacht?

Okay, let’s start with the specs. The WHY is 58 m long and 38 m wide, with 3,400 square meters [roughly 36,600 square feet] of “guest surface area” spread over its three levels. [One for living space, outdoor deck, spa, dining room, music room and cinema; one for guest suites, lounge area, and library; and the third reserved as the owner’s private space.] Designed to accommodate 12 guests and 20 crew members, it affords roughly 280 square meters [or 3,014 square feet] per guest. Just for comparison, according to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size for a one-family home in the United States is 2,330 square feet [216 square meters]. And we Americans are not known for living in tight spaces. The WHY also offers three different sky-lit patios, a 25 m swimming pool with “thermoregulated” water, and a helipad -- for transportation convenience.

It’s “green” features include the following: “ultra-low consumption” LED lighting and air-conditioning systems, wind turbines and 900 square meters of thermophotovoltaic panels -- which reportedly power the boat’s auxiliary systems -- and an aerodynamic hull designed to decrease energy needs by cutting wind resistance. There is also a computerized energy management system that regulates the use of the vessel’s renewable energy and supplementary diesel fuel.

The green stats listed on the WHY website include the annual fuel savings [160,000 litres or 200 tons. A 200 TON savings?!] and the “lost thermal energy recovered” [1,500 kWh/day], but make no mention of the total diesel fuel costs, the energy consumed in the production of 900 square meters of pvs, the total carbon costs of the project, or an explanation of how anyone could possibly need [or justify the purchase of] a 3,400 square meter yacht.

Luca Bassani Antivari, President and CEO of Wally, writes: “This revolutionary concept of the moving island is developed with the latest and most advanced sustainable technologies … the architecture of the whole project fits perfectly in the environment – there are no excesses, nothing is superfluous, the impact on the sea is minimum.”

I didn’t make that up; he really claims that “there are no excesses” and “nothing is superfluous.”

WHY is a beautiful piece of engineering; its sleak, steamlined design is gorgeous, its luxury features are breath taking, and it certainly looks like an amazing place to spend a vacation…or, well, the rest of your life. But, I’m sorry, I just can’t take the green claims seriously. How can we lend the sustainability label to something that is so obviously nothing but excess, that is so clearly a superfluous use of resources.

I’m not saying WHY isn’t beautiful; I’m not saying its morally wrong; I’m not even faulting Sheik Whoever at the Abu Dhabi Yachts Show for buying one. All I’m saying is that it isn’t green; Antivari shouldn’t say that it is and we shouldn’t believe him even if he does.

If we’re going to talk about WHY at all, we should recognize it for what it is – an innovating achievement of yacht design and a fantastic display of opulence – instead devaluing the meaning of “green” by using it so inappropriately.

Share and Enjoy:
Digg Technorati Stumbleupon Blinklist Reddit Furl Yahoo Spurl Simpy

No comments:

Post a Comment