(Source: Environmental & Turf Services, Inc.)

As golf continues to be mired in a devastated economy, Environmental & Turf Services (ETS) of Wheaton, Maryland and The Golf Resource Group (GRG) of Phoenix, Arizona have announced the release of a carbon footprint calculator for golf, a tool to calculate a golf course’s carbon impact and help them save money.

Released under the name CARBONSAVE┬«, a co-branding effort with ETS and GRG, this golf-specific calculator is the first one of its kind to be available for use by any golf course. The calculator allows the user to input the course’s basic resource data relating to the various everyday uses such as total energy use, fertilizer and pesticide consumption, and total fuel used, including gasoline and diesel. Total mileage driven by company vehicles is also an option.

“We’ve developed this Tier-1 screening level tool to give a golf course a quick and easy snapshot of their total emissions and an idea of where to focus their attention when looking to reduce their footprint,” says Dr. Stuart Cohen, president of ETS. “Courses will know right away which parts of their operation emit the most carbon and which parts sequester (store) the most carbon.”

Based on national averages, the calculator reports the total net carbon emissions, given in tons, for the entire golf facility. The tool also calculates the total percentages of emissions attributed to each use, identifying areas of highest priority for reduction and potential cost savings.

A reduction of a course’s carbon footprint will lead to a reduction of resource use that will also lead to cost savings, a necessity for any golf course. The program’s research suggested that over 60% of a facility’s footprint is attributed to energy use and is the reason GRG became interested in assisting the development of this tool.

“When Dr. Cohen first approached us with the idea, I knew right away this was something we needed to be involved with,” says Andy Staples, a golf course architect and president of GRG. “It’s easy to say you want to reduce your footprint, but knowing how to actually do it takes some knowledge and experience.”

Having been a leader in the energy arena since 2004, GRG feels the easiest way to reduce a course’s carbon footprint is in energy reduction. GRG has used its expertise in energy efficiency to reach out to over 100 courses in California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Massachusetts and understands exactly where a golf course should look to reduce its use. Measures to reduce emissions can range from simple do-it-yourself conservation efforts to more sophisticated measures where an outside consultant is brought in.

The calculator also addresses the topic of carbon sequestration, providing for inputs of the acreages of maintained turf grass, trees, native grasses, and shrubs. These areas are used to calculate a total amount of carbon sequestered via natural causes, and may one day be available for sale on a carbon market. One possible use of this information is the phase-in implementation of recently adopted state legislation such as Assembly Bill 32 in California, for which new cap-and-trade regulations were passed December 16, 2010. Another possibility is incentives by large public utilities to reduce overall energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have no idea where the future carbon markets will lead,” says Cohen. “But, if there is an opportunity for golf to take advantage of selling their carbon credits, we want to be right there to help a course take advantage of it.”

The future of golf development remains uncertain; however, the fact remains that golf courses will have to continue to find new and innovative ways to be more efficient while saving money. ETS and GRG feel that even though courses are now beginning to turn to more drastic cost-cutting measures such as reduced acreages of turf, less water use and less overall inputs to the golf course, these changes can have a positive effect on a course’s carbon footprint.

“We see what courses are going through to survive, and want to be part of the solution,” continues Cohen. “If a course can save money AND do what’s right for the environment, isn’t that the definition of a win-win situation? We think so.”

About ETS

ETS is a high-tech, science-based environmental consulting firm that services the turf industry (www.environmentalandturf.com). ETS staff have expertise in environmental chemistry, turf agronomy, hydrogeology, hydrology, environmental risk assessment and risk management, geographical information systems, and water quality monitoring. The 20 year-old firm has done work in approximately 20 states, Canada, and China. Its senior scientist, Dr. Stuart Cohen, has given invited lectures throughout the U.S. and in 11 foreign countries on four continents.

About GRG

GRG is the country’s leading resource management consulting group to the golf industry. The firm’s owner and principal golf architect, Andy Staples is an associate member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects as has been involved with over 125 projects throughout the world.

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