What does sustainability mean?

Sustainability focuses on the “triple bottom line” – people, planet, and profit – to ensure businesses are successful.

The term “sustainability” may be considered by some to be a vague term, and it has been defined in a variety of ways. However, it has been recognized and defined by the Environmental Protection Agency and the United Nations. The most recognized definition has its roots in the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development report, Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, which defines it as

"development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The three elements

Sustainability theories and models have been around for years, but unlike the term “green,” sustainability focuses on the “triple bottom line” – people, planet, and profit – to ensure businesses are successful. Regardless of the theory, there are three key elements of a sustainability position:

  1. People: centered for people now and in the future
  2. Planet: ecologically viable
  3. Profit: economically feasible

Simply stated, adopting a sustainable business philosophy is the incorporation of these three key elements into the decision-making process.

Other benefits and values

Sustainability experts recognize and promote these benefits and other potential values associated with sustainability from other industries and businesses. Generally recognized sustainability values and benefits include:

  • Realized direct cost savings
  • Increased customer loyalty and attraction
  • Reduce risk and increase positive returns
  • Improved relationships / image
  • Improved overall branding
  • Increased employee relations
  • New or enhanced innovation or technologies
Opportunities for improving the triple bottom line

Understanding these key values can help golf facilities to adopt a sustainable business philosophy. Likewise, there are common operational areas that golf facilities can focus on, as well as the common benefits. These operational areas include water use, energy use, waste management, supply chain improvements, efficient processing of materials, and more. The focus includes an operational impact analysis, as well as environmental impact analysis. In golf, environmental programs and BMPs from multiple states focus on these areas as well. Together, these focus areas and benefits help to create the sustainability business case for golf facilities.

The four key areas that a golf facility should focus on:

  • water use: efficiency and conservation
  • energy use: efficiency and conservation
  • pollution prevention
  • water quality protection