Zero Waste: Realizing the goal

Dairy Creek strives to set the standard

zero-waste-case-study-2 Dairy Creek Golf Course in San Luis Obispo County, Calif., is working to become a zero-waste golf course operation. Josh Heptig, director of golf course operations for the county, hopes to set this standard for environmental sustainability. The goals of Dairy Creek and their zero-waste initiative is to reduce consumption, minimize waste, maximize recycling, and promote products that are made to be repaired, reused, or recycled.

Getting started

The zero-waste plan would need to consider compostable material, recyclable material, infrastructure needs, capital costs, and educating the public. Dairy Creek staff educated the public to show how the plan would help conserve the natural environment. Dairy Creek implemented numerous Best Management Practices (BMPs) to serve the needs of the environment without compromising the future of the course. They have used pollution prevention, wildlife conservation, energy conservation, and water conservation to create a more environmentally focused golf course operation.


Some of Dairy Creek's BMPs can be implemented at other courses hoping to achieve zero waste:

Water conservation practices

  • Use reclaimed water
  • Conduct irrigation audits
  • Use wetting agents
  • Conduct soil moisture tests
  • Dairy Creek was able to reduce water costs by 20 percent

Pollution prevention practices

  • Use wash pads
  • Utilize closed water systems
  • Establish buffer strips around water bodies
  • Reducing pesticide applications to two preventative applications per year

Energy use practices

  • Verify irrigation pumps run at 70 percent efficiency or better
  • Initiate an energy consumption audit
  • Use LED and CFL lighting

Recycling practices

  • Provide recycle, compost and trash containers with instructional signage
  • Conduct demonstrations and tours around the facility to highlight efforts

Wildlife conservation/land management practices

  • Build raptor boxes to naturally reduce rodent population
  • Establish wildlife corridors
  • Install water sources for wildlife
  • Install signage and conduct educational demonstrations
  • Dairy Creek uses sheep to maintain out-of-play areas
  • Dairy Creek has identified 96 species of wildlife on the course

Outreach and communication practices

  • Involve customers in the zero-waste initiative to drive acceptance and increase education

Industry impacts

Golf facilities that strive for zero-waste, like Dairy Creek, improve the public image of golf and promote change in community policy. Heptig says he's seen no negative impacts to pursuing zero-waste. Along with conserving natural resources and protecting wildlife, developing a zero-waste golf facility plan can reduce operation costs and increase profits.