How MSC Cruises is building in sustainability

MSC Cruises’ Linden Coppell gives Susan Parker an insight into why there is a growing demand for the cruise industry to introduce a sustainable shipbuilding framework and certification process

How MSC Cruises is building in sustainability
MSC Cruises has incorporated various environmentally friendly solutions and technologies into its new terminal at PortMiami to ensure it will achieve LEED certification

MSC Cruises is currently constructing two new cruise terminals – one in Miami, Florida, and the other in Barcelona, Spain. Both have been built to the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards.  

According to Linden Coppell, MSC Cruises’ vice president of sustainability and environmental, social and governance, this has provided the cruise operator with a vital opportunity to learn how it can replicate some of the good building and performance practices onboard its fleet of ships. 

“We have become very familiar with LEED and BRE Group’s Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) certifications as we have invested significantly in these for our cruise terminal buildings,” she says. “We comprehensively understand the need for improved energy efficiency and the effective management of water consumption and waste disposal, as well as the vital role they play in environmental and sustainable profiles. These are all factors that are also intrinsically part and parcel of our newbuilds programme when we get to the design stage.”    

MSC Cruises already has a range of systems in place onboard its ships that are aligned with many environmental standards for buildings on land. However, Coppell believes that the cruise industry should create its own standards too. “There is an argument to be made that says the cruise industry could have a formalised framework to mirror structures like LEED, and this is something that we have already discussed with BREEAM,” she says. “Plus, classification societies could potentially play a pivotal role.” 

To optimise energy efficiency on its ships, MSC Cruises has implemented heating, ventilation and cooling systems, as well as measures to reduce energy demands in the kitchens and in areas such as the swimming pools and laundry department.  

“We make constant adjustments to the systems based on the expertise of the ship’s chief engineer and onboard crew, as well as our onshore energy efficiency management team,” says Coppell. “This allows us to minimise waste heat and cooled areas through heat transfer systems.  

“We also use advanced waste management systems to effectively segregate many recyclable items such as plastics, glass, aluminium, cooking oil, paper, cardboard and metals, thereby significantly reducing landfill waste.” 

 Although there may not be a specific sustainable shipbuilding framework in place, MSC Cruises’ vessels meet many voluntary and statutory regulations. “All of our systems and performance levels are checked and reviewed by internal and external auditors to ensure compliance with both regulations and the voluntary systems that we implement,” says Coppell. “This includes ISO 14001 environmental management systems and ISO 50001 energy management systems.” 

In addition, MSC Cruises ensures that all existing ships comply with the International Maritime Organization’s Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index and Carbon Intensity Indicator requirements and will build all new vessels to meet Energy Efficiency Design Index standards. “This ensures that we invest and install equipment, machinery and galley devices, for example, that have a high level of performance,” says Coppell. 

The company’s newbuilding teams are also responsible for retrofitting existing vessels and they understand the need to invest in sustainable and durable materials. “They collaborate with our sustainability team and external fit-out designers to ensure that the materials and products we use onboard have ‘sustainable and responsible’ credentials too,” says Coppell.  

MSC Cruises’ dedication to improving the environmental profile of its fleet aligns well with the values of its guests who are becoming increasingly more informed and engaged on sustainability matters. “MSC Cruises is absolutely committed to ensure that we address their expectations and, wherever possible, exceed them,” says Coppell. 

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.        

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Susan Parker
By Susan Parker
19 October 2022

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