By Trond Sigurdsen, Chairman, YSA Design
Wherever one stands on environmental issues, there is no disputing that it’s warmer out there: on average, the last five years (2014-2019) have been the warmest recorded in the 139 years since the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration started counting.
Melting glaciers, rising sea levels and coastal communities under threat shape attitudes, and the conscious change is now a key cruise business driver. With expedition ships pushing ever further into the most vulnerable areas of the world, energy saving, emissions reduction, waste management and even materials chosen for use on board now influence guest booking choices.
Therefore, you would not expect to hear that environmental responsibility is anything other than a core value for YSA Design, but it is still important to understand what this means in 2019-2020 in relation to cruise ship clients, shipyards and subcontractors.
While not a naval architecture or marine engineering company itself, YSA Design was one of the first design companies to work with owners and shipyards on integrating LNG propulsion in a cruise ship. Again, with CO2 emissions banned in Norwegian World Heritage fjords from 2026, one of the most challenging parts of the work we are doing today focuses on interior spaces that best ‘fit’ hybrid propulsion solutions including battery power.
However, our role as designer for sustainable cruise ships goes beyond adapting to the work of others. For example, in line with the brand values of our customers, our materials selection favours lower carbon footprint methods, avoids those involving toxic emissions and prefers recyclable products. Any wood we use must come from managed forests.
We are also proactive in our approach: proposals include the deployment of photovoltaic technology on board ship to capture energy that would otherwise be lost. In a recent project, YSA Design suggested covering penthouse suite roofs with solar panels, with a view to persuade premium guests to pay a moderate supplement for ‘lower carbon’ accommodation, on the same basis that flyers agree to offset air miles.
We certainly believe that environmental sensitivities are as a significant brand issue for cruise companies as they are for airlines. It is now a matter of routine for YSA Design to provide elegant solutions so that bike-work in the gym can be converted into phone charge, for example.
But environmental benefits can also be experienced by cruise guests whether they notice them or not. In cooperation with SCENSO, for example, we are making specific proposals to improve air quality in cruise ship interiors using technology that also reduces hotel loads by replacing fixed rate ventilation with more efficient sensor-based and active air cleaning methods
In short, as project partner, YSA Design’s role in sustainable cruise ship design is increasingly becoming that of the integrator with the critical awareness of interiors to meet brand needs and imperatives set by naval architects, marine engineers, shipyards, contractors and Class Society inspectors.