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How To: the PGA Crafts Its First Sustainability Report, Solves Unique Challenges

The PGA has published its first social responsibility report, claiming a “critical need to tell the story of the industry’s sustainability successes and challenges.” The report came about due in part to a partnership with Constellation, the PGA’s official energy provider and sustainability partner.


Developing Its First Report

The complicated process of developing its first social responsibility report started with the Environmental Resources Management (ERM) consultancy. ERM conducted a sustainability assessment with PGA professionals and nearly 30 key industry stakeholders, including PGA professionals representing public and private clubs around the country, PGA executive directors, leaders at organizations like the United States Golf Association and the Environmental Institute for Golf, golf course management companies, and partner organizations.

Then, ERM conducted interviews with these entities, which led to insight on the key sustainability topics and opportunities within the industry. The PGA then identified priority areas to develop a vision and strategy for sustainability with the PGA for the next several years. Those priority areas became the focus of its report, with the organization outlining past successes and future goals.


Challenges: Improving Sustainability When an Organization Has No Direct Oversight

One of the key priority areas is to improve the environmental footprint of the industry, a unique challenge because the PGA of America doesn’t own or operate the courses where most of its members are located. Instead of being able to make hands-on changes and improvements, the organization provides guidance and opportunities to help those courses make more environmentally responsible decisions at their clubs. By working with other leading organizations in the golf industry, the PGA is helping courses that have water scarcity concerns, for example, to find ways to reduce water consumption or use recycled water.

PGA professionals also work with superintendents, club managers and owners at their facilities to integrate best management practices around energy use, water use, turf management, wildlife and habitat.

Environmental improvements at golf clubs can range from more efficient light fixtures and room controls to low-flow water fixtures, and even solar panels. Via the organization’s partnership with Constellation, courses are helped to identify opportunities for increased efficiency and are then recommended a management plan. Constellation then connects the club with a service provider to install the new technologies. The projects have no upfront cost, and the clubs pay for the services on a monthly basis through their energy bill. Oftentimes, the savings from efficiency are greater than the monthly cost, saving the clubs money and energy in the long run.


Case In Point

Liberty National Golf Course in New Jersey is one of the first clubs to take advantage of the partnership with Constellation. Constellation’s team conducted a comprehensive energy audit of the facility to identify where the club could save the most energy. They ultimately recommended installing LED lights and control systems, the scope and pricing of which was approved by Liberty National. Working with Constellation and one of Constellation’s approved alliance partners ensured that a new design-build solution fit the club’s energy needs, budget and timing.

Completed in 2017, the system improvements and LED upgrades reduced consumption by 50%, saving 250,000 kWh of energy usage every year. With the associated costs of the project already included in the site’s electricity bill and spread out over the term of their energy contract with Constellation, Liberty National will be able to continue prioritizing time and resources to other improvements needed at the club, while significantly reducing associated maintenance costs. The PGA of America and Constellation are working to develop similar plans with other golf courses across the United States.

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