Superyacht design has attracted some of the most innovative and talented naval architects in the world, each rising to the challenge of creating a seaworthy infrastructure to support luxury and comfort. From solid foundations to resilient finishings, building a yacht is both a science and an art. Environmental sustainability is now recognised as a vital feature for any vessel. The self-regulating capacities of our marine ecosystems are being stretched beyond their natural limits with the increase of water pollution and the superyacht industry is responding to this internationally recognised crisis in many different ways.
Features of environmentally friendly superyacht design include hybrid or hydrogen power or solar panels to replace fossil fuels. Reducing carbon emissions and increasing energy-efficiency is certainly an important advance. The Black Pearl, launched in 2016, is renowned as one of the most eco-friendly superyachts ever built. Its three DynaRig masts support 2,900m2 of sails, which generate electricity as it propels through the water. Heat capture technologies also generate energy, and large storage batteries capture the energy which is generated and not used immediately. It is thought that she is able to cross the Atlantic with just 20 litres of fuel.
The environmental impact of interior finishings is also being more closely considered. As on land, LED lighting is preferred for its lower energetic consumption. Recycled materials, from wood to glass, can also be applied to interiors without compromising the required standards of elegance. Another detail is the choice of finishings. Materials which can be easily sourced, such as wood veneers or bamboo, are preferred over their endangered counterparts. New materials are also emerging to meet the demands of sustainability. These include resins manufactured using bio-based materials and water-based lacquers.
With an increasing amount of options available, one of the main challenges to environmental sustainability lies in their effective integration at all stages of the yacht-building process. Contractors and architects at all levels of the construction process can lead this environmental orientation by proposing sustainable materials and solutions which meet the client’s requirements whilst introducing elements they might not have considered.
On the other hand, there are also yacht owners who specify that environmentally friendly considerations are a top priority requirement. Seventy percent of our planet is covered by water. It is heartening to see that this collaborative process of increasing environmental responsibility which includes everyone connected with our industry – product developers, naval architects and their clients, is continuing to grow.