RBC Heritage Teeing up for Sustainability Leadership
Building on the success of social and environmental initiatives in previous years, the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing has announced a new and significant goal for 2017 - to meet the new international sustainability standard for golf tournaments – being developed by GEO (the Golf Environment Organization).
With social and environmental responsibility being a common interest for all tournament stakeholders; tournament organizers and partners will build upon previous initiatives which have seen $35 million being raised for local charities since the Heritage Classic Foundation began in 1987; more than 4,000 spectators cycling to the 2016 event, covering over 25,000 miles; and the sourcing of 100% mains electricity from renewable sources with partners Palmetto Electric Cooperative and Santee Cooper.
At this year’s event patrons will be encouraged to join in the efforts through the 'Keeping it Green' campaign. Some of the ways in which patrons are encouraged to play their part include using the free bicycle parking at the event and the 100 recycling bins across the course. There will also be Zero Waste volunteers assisting patrons to correctly dispose of the compostable and recyclable catering packaging. In addition, RBC will offset carbon emissions from the event and unused food will be donated to local charity Second Helpings.
The event’s host, The Sea Pines Resort, has also demonstrated an underpinning commitment to sustainable management of the venue. In 2015, The Sea Pines Resort gained the third party verified GEO Certified® Facilities mark, demonstrating their commitment to nature, resources and community. With the resort being home to 133 different bird species, 30 different mammals and hosting 605 acres of forest preserve, Sea Pines has exemplified how responsible stewardship of nature and resources goes hand in hand with outstanding golf experiences. The Resort was also part of the community portfolio of 15 Hilton Head Island area golf facilities which won the 2017 ‘Sustainable Golf Destination of the Year’ award from IAGTO, the Global Organization for Golf Tourism.
Morgan Hyde, RBC Heritage VP of Operations said: “Maximizing our net positive impacts on the environment and local community has always been a top priority for us. Last year we commissioned a full sustainability review of the event, which has been openly published, and this year we are building on the results of that review by aiming to be one of the first events on the PGA TOUR to achieve certification from the Golf Environment Organization. We are proud of the impacts the event has, from our Plaid About Reading campaign with area schools, our extensive fundraising efforts for local charities, striving for Zero Waste with sorting stations staffed by trained volunteers, and decreasing our carbon footprint through use of renewable energy and carbon offsetting program. Gaining the GEO certification will be a credible, measurable, independent recognition of our commitment to people and the planet.”
Libi Newell, Communication Manager from GEO said “Kudos to the RBC Heritage for stepping forward like this – willing to use credible, collaborative and published industry standards as a guide for their work; developing transparent approaches to reporting and communications; and willing to progress through the third party verification process. It’s this kind of committed approach that generates greater levels of quantifiable results with ongoing improvement.”
Teresa Wade, Founder of Experience Green, the non-profit supporting the local Hilton Head Island Sustainability in Golf initiative said: “This announcement is an exciting show of leadership for sustainability from Hilton Head Island. Having won the international 2017 IAGTO Sustainable Golf Destination of the Year Award, we are delighted to continue the drive for ongoing improvement to enhance the value of golf, for the natural environment and the destination.”
The independent tournament certification assessment will take place before, during and after the RBC Heritage event, with key data being gathered at each stage. The results of the assessment will be announced later in 2017.
To find out more about the 2017 RBC Heritage sustainability initiatives visit www.rbcheritage.com/about/keeping-it-green and to find out more about Hilton Head Island’s Sustainability in Golf Initiative visit www.sustainabilityingolf.org . Further information about GEO Certified® Facilities and Tournaments can be found at www.golfenvironment.org.