Tony Parker, 61, took up the role of director of infrastructure and climate change after a 13-year career at the port, leading a renewed focus on environmental responsibility.
The port is trust-owned, he said, meaning there are no shareholders to appease or profits to prioritise over sustainability.
“We desperately need to resolve global warming and we need to do it now, otherwise mankind is in big trouble,” said Tony.
“We aim to play as full a part as possible in helping to improve our local environment and have a great opportunity to make a difference in terms of both reducing greenhouse gases and in improving the quality of the air we breathe.”
In 2016 two wind turbines were installed, supplying electricity at a rate of 100kilowatts – enough to power the port’s pump house or 100 homes.
Solar panels have also been added to many of the rooftops, but the sheer amount of energy required by the port shows the strain placed on renewable sources.
The Parker Steel hangar has around 10,000sqm of solar panels, generating electricity at a rate of 1.8megawatts.
To put that into context, the gas power station, which Tony said is the most polluting building in Sussex, generates a rate of 420megawatts of electricity.
With so much power required to keep the port and its 1,700 employees working, the onus is on streamlining processes elsewhere.
Five years ago a local fuel company, Local Fuel, replaced Texaco as supplier to the oil terminal.
Local Fuel brings its smaller ships directly into port, as opposed to driving from London. Every oil tanker that comes into the port takes 225 petrol trucks off the road, said Tony.
Keeping things local is central to the green initiatives. Three large aggregate companies work out of the port, dredging sand and shingle from the sea bed to be used for construction.
The shingle is mixed into concrete on-site and transported in mixer trucks to local projects. The concrete sets within two hours, making close proximity a necessity.
Progress is being made, but Tony said the port is not resting on its laurels.
“This year we intend to launch our Air Quality Plan, which will set out how we intend to reduce the effect we, our tenants and all of our visitors have on air quality, aiming eventually to reduce emissions to zero,” he said.
An Energy Use and Reduction Programme will also assess how greenhouse gases are produced by the port, he added, with the introduction of more efficient vehicles, machinery and LED lighting.
About 90 percent of the port’s lampposts are now the far more efficient LEDs, with the next stage to convert the larger lighting towers. At £30,000 per tower, cleaner energy does not come cheap.
Unfortunately the technology is not currently available to harness the power of the sea, said Tony, as the tides and currents in the River Adur are not strong enough.
Wave energy devices are only just being developed, but he said the port is keeping a close eye on progress as possible energy sources in the future.