This report was prepared by Mårten Wallberg, GEOSA, Accredited Verifier. It was published on December 18 2015
Executive summary (English & local language)
The sustainable work at Viborg GK started when the municipality wanted to close down the club. As being the land owner the municipality has the right to do this and the reason for the wish was that the municipality had a notion that the club was polluting the area with pesticides and fertilizers. The club was simply forced to show figures. It did that, the municipality was calmed, and from that moment Viborg GK has been one of the frontrunners of sustainability work at golf clubs in Denmark. The club is constantly trying to decrease its negative environmental impact and enhancing its positive ditto, a struggle that impregnates the management of all parts of the club. There are two brilliant examples of this for the last three years. Firstly, the move from non-renewable energy to renewable by the coming installation of solar cell panels and a new heating system using bio pellets. Both of these will decrease the amount of CO2 emitted by a quite large part. The second example concerns the nature. Apart from direct measures to enhance the biodiversity like removing trees from two of the ponds in order to flat the “beach” to make it easier for the frogs to get up and down, the club is a central actor in the municipal collaboration, which aim is to found a nature park including the golf course. The park will include nature trails on and beside the golf course, seeking to both inform people about the nature and cultural history of the area and to preserve and enhance the ditto. This is also a splendid example of a golf club moving toward having a more multifunctional part in the local society. This gives that the club will become an even more integrated part in the everyday life of the municipality, a way to go for the major part of golf clubs.
The course is located at the edge of the last ice age’s glacial line and the landscape is hilly moraine and former agricultural land but now consists of grassland and forests. Old river valleys are surrounding the course.
Surveys of the flora, fauna and nature in general have been made, and updated, by the local environmental NGO and other experts. The surveys have detected some rare and endangered species on the course.
The club is following the advices from the fauna report, for example “planting trees in order to strengthen the connection between internal and external patches” and has put up new nesting boxes for owls, which are being inhabited and also removing invasive species such as Prunus ceotina.
The lakes are very rich in birds, fishes and amphibians and in one of them crabs have been detected, which is a very good sign concerning water quality.
Some of the greens are USGA-standard and consist mostly of Brown top bent and Fescue. The club is testing a 4-cromosome grass (Rye Grass). The grass is less sensitive than most other species, especially against fungus, but as it doesn´t cope with short cutting it is not suitable on greens.
The new holes, with USGA-standard greens, need much less nutrition, pesticides and water than the old and the club has a plan of reconstruct the old holes. The course manager is constantly sowing the old greens with Brown top bent and Fescue and actually the amount of Poa annua is on its way down, partly because of new machines conducting green mowing.
In two of the ponds some trees have been removed in order to flat the “beach” to make it easier for the frogs to get up and down. New insect banks on the course also enhance the biodiversity. The new beehives are a success. Besides promoting the club’s sustainability work they enhance the ecosystem service pollination. Of course the honey when sold in the clubhouse sells out directly.
The facility is constantly trying to reduce the water consumption and have managed to reduce water for irrigation in 2014 to 56% of the consumption in 1996, it was 50% in 2011. This of course is due to different amount of rainfall from one year to another.
Water for irrigation comes from the facilities own drilling holes. Important to notice is that only greens and tees are being irrigated, never the fairways, semi-rough or rough. The course manager also uses a fully computerized irrigation system.
Irrigation only occurs during night and the course manager has a very good picture of the different needs for irrigation at the different areas and patches on the course and also has a very good local knowledge of “reading” the weather.
A new sprinkler system in order to optimize the amount of water used was installed a couple of years ago. New sprinklers at some greens are planned in order to optimize irrigation even more. When it comes to the clubhouse and maintenance facilities low-flow urinals and toilets and the use of efficient shower technology has brought down the use of water on the whole.
The club has undertaken an energy audit and 3 of 4 of the suggestions has been launched, primarily the switch from ordinary light bulbs to low-energy bulbs.
This year the club will go under 100 000 kwh for energy due to reducing the amount of energy used. Although the club now is installing renewable energy sources, see below, it is still using a fair amount of non-renewable energy.
Solar cell panels (35 000 kwh) are being installed in the winter of 2015/2016. The club has received 325 000 dkr from the municipality for this and the club will co-finance with about 110 000 dkr. The plan is that panels used are to be enhanced in the near future. The panels will of course decrease the use of non-renewable energy sources. A new heating system, for parts of the maintenance area, using bio pellets is being installed during the end of 2015 and will replace the burning of about 10 000 liters of oil.
The golf carts have solar panels on the roof in order to charge the batteries. But the club has seen that the batteries only last about one year and therefore the club will test to let one of the carts go by ordinary energy.
During the last year all the old light bulbs in the restaurant have been switched to energy saving bulbs, from 40 w to 3 w. The club has also changed windows in the clubhouse in order to save energy. Modern and energy-saving pumps for irrigation have been installed which has led to a reduction in energy consumption despite the construction of the new 9 holes. Earlier, ew secondary energy-meters were installed and are showing exactly where the energy is consumed which is an efficient way to know where it’s possible to cut down the energy use.
Instead of construction of USGA-greens on the old push-up-greens, which means heavy costs, the club will try to re-construct these greens in another way, not at least in order to further decrease the amount of pesticides used. The method in brief is to strip the greens with a turf-stripper and sow or roll out new turf on the green.
The club will choose a local company for the biopellets machinery and the actual biopellets. This is a concrete example of how the club uses the purchasing policy, implemented in 2012. The policy concerns all significant purchases where the price, quality and environmental issues are important parts of the considerations and local suppliers have priority.
It’s good to see that the club buys all its retail from companies not further than 10 km from the club.
Three times a year an expert is visiting the facility in order to take soil- and grass samples and to come up with management suggestions. In order to improve the use of pesticides and fertilizers an investment in an electronic registration system has been done due to help from the government. About half of the active ingredients used in the pesticides have decreased during the last year. The club has problems with Garden Chafer (Phyllopertha horticola). The club combat them by irrigating the greens for 4 minutes a day during the Garden Chafer’s swarming season, all because the will to reduce the use of pesticides, a measure well received by the players, although they enter a risk of being wet. During 2015 the amount of Garden Chafer has been quite low so the club will try to evaluate the method next year.
The facility has undertaken a waste audit and is taking care of its waste in a proper manner and is recycling and reusing when possible. This is done not only for the clubhouse and the maintenance area but also on the course, which has turned out well. The grass clippings from the greens are being taking care of by putting it in the local compost plant to become good fertilizing agents.
Water from washing clippers and other machines is being reused. This water is used for watering driving range and the practice area near the maintenance facility.
Wastewater is discharged to the municipal sewer system and cleaned before discharged to a recipient, a method authorized by the municipality.
No water analysis is being conducted due to the absence of relevant monitoring positions. That is, you can´t find any natural inflow or outflow from the course.
Part of the wastewater from the maintenance facility is being cleaned and re-used at the driving range and practice area.
All hazardous waste are being taking care of in a most careful way and the club is since 2012 certified for handling hazardous materials like chemicals. This certification is stricter than the national laws.
All equipment is maintained indoor on concrete floor according to Danish regulations.
The wastewater from the courses is being managed by a closed loop recycling. There is no pesticide or fertilizer use nearer than 10 meters from the lakes on the course.
Since 1997 the facility has completed a Green Account every year. The account includes the facility’s environmental policy and major environmental impacts of the facility with the objectives and targets for reduction of those. The most important issues in the account and the environmental work are the reduction of fertilizers, pesticides and water use and all the statistics needed to run an effective environmental work are well at hand on the facility.
The club is since 2012 certified with ISO 9001 (working environment) and the club has environmental education for the staff each year.
The sustainability group contains the most valuable persons when it comes to environmental work in the club and includes the general manager. Since this year the sustainability group is called Course –and environmental group and is now an official committee, something that would not have been accepted ten years ago. Another new thing is that a member from the municipality (the person in charge of nature) is an official part of the group. The board continuously have the environment on the agenda and the issue is well integrated in the facilities other issues.
Collaboration is started concerning the new Viborg Nature Park. The municipality has accepted the club being a center of the park in its capacity of being a nature area and multifunctional facility. The club is now a part of the council for the park, which will apply for money from the national government. The park is meant to increase the club’s revenues, not at least as its capacity of being multifunctional.
Apart from this, the club has community meetings and joint practical projects with the municipality. It works with local environmental groups, neighbours, media, local government and other authorities.
Major archaeological investigations have found out that the area has been inhabited for thousands of years and has a cultural heritage of national concern. Especially findings from the Bronze Age are very interesting where the statue of a god, Broddenbjergmanden (the Broddenbjerg man), is the most fascinating. Because of the findings the facility agreed to dig not more than around 30 cm in the ground during the construction of the new 9 holes. The facility is very proud of being part of this fascinating historical area.
The green account is each year communicated to the members and to external actors such as the municipality, the public and interested organisations.
The club has the last year developed an app, which tells about the course, the nature and the cultural history. The app is supposed to be further developed according to a distinct plan. The club is also undertaking environmental communications such as website, press releases, advertisement movies
- Action Plans and Project Proposals
- Awareness Raising Materials
- Certification Report
- Emergency Incident Plan
- Environmental Data
- Environmental Management Plan
- Environmental Policy
- External Surveys and Reports
- Internal Reports
Viborg GK is a very good example of the saying that sustainability work never stops, it always continues and new ideas seem to pop up constantly in the club. The club has gone from being forced by municipality to show figures of the actual environmental impact, with a threat of being closed down, to start being one of the frontrunners of sustainable work at golf clubs, especially in Denmark. This gives that, as being a verifier for GEO, it’s always a pleasure and exciting to visit Viborg GK. In my last report from the club in 2012 I commented that the club still had a long way to when it comes to energy sources and the club seems to have listened to that. The installation of solar cell panels and a heating system using bio pellets is an indication of that. In the same report I mentioned that the club has the potential of advertise itself as an environmentally facility with high biodiversity but forgot to mention the cultural history. Both these fields will be highlighted when the new Viborg Nature Park is, hopefully, founded and it’s my sincere belief that this will increase the revenue for the club. All in all, Viborg GK still is an ambassador for the saying that lack of imagination is the only hindrance of conducting very practical and enjoyable sustainability work.
• The installation of solar cell panels will save money for the club and at the same time help save the climate.
• The installation of a heating system using bio pellets is also a great way of lower the use of fossil fuel.
• While doing the mandatory walk on the course the course manager gave a short, but enthusiastic, lecture about the geological and cultural history of the area.