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The Port of San Diego: The Future of Sustainable Waterfronts

The Port of San Diego has long played a vital role within the region for its maritime operations which has already added more than $20 billion to the state’s economy. With a healthy mix of multiple business lines from cargo to tourism, and its continued commitment towards sustainability, the Port has cemented its place as a key port operator on both a national and international scale. We got the chance to chat with Greg Borossay, Principal of Maritime Business Development at the Port of San Diego, who told us of the expansive work of the Port and highlighted key developments towards electrification aimed at enhancing port operations whilst building a sustainable future for its operations worldwide.  

The Port of San Diego champions the maritime industry, waterfront development, public safety, experiences, and the environment as part of their diverse mission. This commitment to both people, the environment and the industry is what has continued to bring prosperity to both the Port and the surrounding region. When we spoke to Greg Borossay, he noted that the port industry is currently an exciting one, which has brought USD 9.2 billion into San Diego County alone, and is responsible for creating 64,000 employment opportunities through direct, indirect, and induced jobs.  

The Port is not funded with tax dollars, but rather from its diverse portfolio of operations which generate revenue to support the vital public services and amenities available across the Port’s operations. This portfolio ranges from cargo and cruise terminals to hotels, restaurants, marinas, museums and 22 public parks. Therefore, as a public benefit corporation, the Port continues to promote and balance the commerce, navigation, recreation, environmental stewardship, and fisheries on behalf of the citizens of the State of California.  

On a national scale, the competitive cargo capabilities across the Port have established it as a key player serving the nationwide importing and exporting industry largely thanks to the roll-on/roll-off cargo operation in place. The Port’s reputation for excellence on a national scale has extended to its international network, which sees vessels from both cargo and tourism industries stopping with the Port of San Diego every single day. Borossay highlighted the valuable international role the Port plays by looking at the vehicle industry, where currently one in 10 cars which are seen on the roads in the U.S. have been imported directly through the Port of San Diego.  

However, with such an expansive role from shipping to leisure in both national and international sectors, the Port of San Diego also remains aware of the need to meet the demand of these growing industries whilst also mitigating the impacts of its operations on local communities and the environment. Therefore, Borossay highlights that “One of our biggest endeavours right now is taking on projects and initiatives laid out in our Maritime Clean Air Strategy (MCAS)”. MCAS is a set of initiatives laid out by the Port to improve environmental and public health through cleaner air for all those who live, work, and play in and around San Diego Bay. These initiatives are to help the Port maintain efficiency in operations, whilst making ambitious strides towards ensuring that every operation maintains the safe and clean nature of the local area.  

A crucial current step of the MCAS is the shift towards electrification, which last year saw the Port receive two all-electric heavy-lift mobile harbour cranes. These cranes provide the Port with double the existing lift capacity, whilst helping to reduce emissions. The existing diesel-driven cranes play a big role in the port’s current overall emissions output, and so the introduction of new cranes will significantly reduce the Port’s emissions whilst also providing much greater lifting capacity. Therefore, the electric cranes perfectly meet the goals of the Port of San Diego: to protect the planet whilst also moving the Port towards a future of continued economic development.  

For the Port of San Diego, everything it does is project-driven, and this is something Greg Borossay highlighted; to inspire staff “all projects must align with the overall mission and vision of the organisation”. This focus ensures that every operation, project, and development undertaken by the Port of San Diego continually works to put San Diego Bay and the people of California at the forefront to build sustained economic prosperity whilst mitigating environmental impacts. Therefore, with a current push towards electrification across its operations thanks to the development of MCAS, the Port of San Diego is establishing itself as a key sustainable waterfront for the future.