The Panama Canal Authority has created the Green Connection Award, a new initiative to recognize customers that demonstrate excellent environmental stewardship, and to encourage others to implement technologies and standards to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Panama Canal customers that meet and exceed environmental standards set by the International Maritime Organization or other globally recognized standards will be considered. The Panama Canal will evaluate eligible candidates based on specific environmental factors, such as the Energy Efficiency Design Index, Environmental Ship Index, amount of nitrous oxides they emit due to engine performance, vessels powered by Liquefied Natural Gas and the amount of carbon dioxide emissions they reduce by using of the Panama Canal compared to longer, alternate routes.

The decision to establish the Green Connection Award is in line with the Canal’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. Thanks to the larger cargo carrying capacity that the Expanded Canal offers customers, it will reduce an estimated of 160 million tons of CO2 emissions in the next 10 years.

The adoption of international standards and the incorporation of innovative environmental initiatives play a key role in the development and preservation of the Panama Canal Watershed, which is vital to the operation of the Panama Canal and the 1.9 million Panamanians who rely on it for drinking water.

To further ensure the sustainability of the route, the Expanded Panama Canal features 18 innovative, state-of-the-art water-savings basins that recycle 60 percent of the water used per lockage, saving 7 percent more water than the original locks — a significant savings considering the sheer size of the Expanded Canal locks in comparison to those of the original waterway.

“These sustainability initiatives reiterate the Canal’s commitment to being a global maritime industry leader, while actively sustaining the environment of Panama,” said Carlos Vargas, executive vice president for environment, water and energy for the PCA. “Through international compliance, water resource management, reforestation and other environmental strategies, we ensure the continued conservation of the Watershed, guaranteeing the viability of the waterway for centuries to come.”