How does a Port start an ambitious decarbonization initiative?

The Port of Seattle has a long-term commitment to reducing carbon emissions and improving the air quality in the region, and it has become clear that electrification of shore operations will be a key aspect of meeting the challenge. But how to start the process, when the technical issues are complex, innovation will be required, and the many, powerful stakeholders hold different positions? In this project, I led a team comprising Somersault Consulting LLC, the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, and CollinsWoerman. Our goal was to give the Port of Seattle a roadmap for tackling this enormous and worthy challenge.


Port of Seattle is a special-purpose municipal corporation serving the citizens of King County; its mission is to create good jobs here and across the state by advancing trade and commerce, promoting manufacturing and maritime growth, and stimulating economic development.The Port is committed to creating opportunity for all, stewarding the environment responsibly, partnering with surrounding communities, promoting social responsibility, conducting themselves transparently while holding themselves accountable. Visit the Port.


  • Organized a site visit to maritime Port operations, to help the team understand nuances and complexities to be considered, while having the opportunity to interact with the Port’s operational staff.
  • Worked collaboratively with the Port liaison and our team to design and facilitate two kickoff workshops with internal stakeholders. The goal was to align expectations, enroll attendees in a “core team,” and begin the process of visioning, setting goals, and articulating core values for the decarbonization initiative.
  • Delivered a clean energy strategy framework document, prepared by one of our team’s experts and incorporating input from the workshops and other team experts.
  • Provided support to our client, to help prepare for a key stakeholder meeting.


  • A clear path forward, outlined as a stepwise process, for developing a clean energy strategy over the course of 18 to 24 months
  • Elements of a visions, draft goals, draft core values