Guide to environmental programs

Golf course environmental management programs and environmental management systems (EMSs) can provide your facility with a plan, an organized system for establishing objectives, a method of measuring progress, and a system of accountability, as well as step-by-step information. 

Most of these programs incorporate most if not all of the key focus areas and BMPs. In addition, many of these programs can establish the foundation for other environmental programs.  For example, if your facility has received certification in Audubon International’s Certified Cooperative Sanctuary Program, you probably will have accomplished most of your local watershed program’s requirements. Being recognized and certified by your local watershed also helps promote your facility's value outside of the golf community.

National and international programs

Audubon International

Audubon International logo updatedThe first international environmental stewardship program for golf courses, the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses is an award winning education and certification program that helps golf courses protect the environment and preserve the natural heritage of the game of golf. 

GCSAA supports Audubon International in its efforts and encourages association members to evaluate whether the ACSP for Golf Courses is appropriate for their facilities. Through an extensive survey of its members, GCSAA determined that more of them participate in the Audubon International programs than any other. This program won the GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 1993. Visit the website »

Audubon program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x


Golf Environment Organization

Golf Environment Organization logoGolf Environment Organization (GEO) is an international non-profit organization that offers sustainability programs for golf facilities. GEO offers tools and resources for facility operations, golf events, and course development. This organization offers a certification program in conjunction with its tools and sustainability resources. Visit the website »

GEO program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x


The Groundwater Foundation’s Groundwater Guardian Green Site

Groundwater Guardian Green Site logoThe Groundwater Guardian (GG) Green Site program recognizes the groundwater and environmental stewardship of highly managed green spaces, such as golf courses, ball fields, parks, and campuses, by encouraging sites to implement, measure, and document their groundwater-friendly practices.

The program publicly recognizes sites for their efforts on behalf of water resources and encourages their sustainable implementation while providing an opportunity for superintendents and managers of highly managed green spaces to educate themselves, site staff, and site visitors about the important resource of groundwater.

Designation as a GG Green Site is based on the completion of an application and earning at least 70% of total applicable points based on current practices related to pesticide and fertilizer use, water use, managing sources of pollution, protecting water quality, and environmental stewardship.  Visit the website »  

Guardian Green Site program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x

Management tools

ePar

epar logoOriginating in Australia in 2003, "e-par" is a golf course specific environmental management system (EMS) that conforms to the international standard ISO 14001. This golf centric EMS incorporates many tools and resources for golf course professionals to complete an EMS across all operations for the golf facility. Visit the website »

ePar program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x


State programs

Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program

The Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program is intended to organize efforts of the turfgrass industry, state agencies, Michigan State University (MSU), and environmental advocacy groups to advance the environmental stewardship of the turfgrass industry and to recognize environmental achievements.

The program was developed at MSU with support from the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation, Golf Association of Michigan, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Agriculture. This program won GCSAA’s President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship in 2001. Visit the website »  

Michigan Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x


Rhode Island Golf Course Green Certification Program

The Rhode Island Green Certification Program is a voluntary self-certification program to assist business in the Hospitality sector with attaining green performance standards, implementing best management practices, and complying with environmental regulatory requirements. Visit the website »


Rhode Island program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x


Vermont Environmental Business Partnership

The Environmental Assistance Office of the Vermont Dept of Environmental Conservation offers recognition for golf courses through their Vermont Environmental Business Partnership. This is a best management practices based program that recognizes businesses for adopting environmental stewardship practices within its operations.

Vermont program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x

Other programs

The following programs were not designed specifically for golf course management, but do have application to significant areas of golf course operations:

EPA Energy Portfolio Manager

Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. The system can help you set priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance. Visit the website »

EPA Energy Portfolio Manager program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x


USGBC LEED

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Visit the website »

USGBC Leed program components
 
Golf course Maintenance facility Other amenities Water conservation Energy conservation Pollution prevention Water quality Certification available
x x x x x x x x