ECP Environmental Solutions
Project Developer - Rio Olympic Golf Course
What led you to be interested in building a new golf course in Barra da Tijuca and what are the benefits of this location for the course and the city?
Our main motivation and simultaneously our main challenge was to build an outstanding unique golf course in Brazil in an extraordinary site. We aim to succeed with a pioneer work of environmental recovery on a degraded area, using a sustainable approach.
How would you describe the experience that visitors will receive when playing Rio Olympic Golf Course and visiting Barra da Tijuca?
Visitors will have opportunity to live an unforgettable experience, as they will be within a practically native area, where all the wildlife and plantlife are in balance. To be able to play golf in such a sanctuary must be something to remember.
As the developer of the course what role have you had and how involved have you been throughout the realization of Rio Olympic Golf Course?
ECP Environmental Solutions was responsible with its entire staff. Led by me with Daniel Cortinhal as general manager, and with the support of biologists Luciana and Roberta, technicians Mário and Marcos, among many others who participated in this project. We achieve our success based on a multidisciplinary team that produced data, which were after compiled and organized by Daniel to be sent to the GEO. Shortly, we may say that we have worked as a large group managing the project from early stages until now.
Sustainability was clearly a priority in the development of Rio Olympic Golf Course, but what led you to the GEO development programme and how did you find the experience of working towards and gaining certification?
One of our top priorities in the Olympic golf course was to include sustainability as a main topic since its genesis. This was to us the only way we could prove the world that sustainability is not only an idea but something real that would benefit everyone. GEO is a leading organization, and after making a tender process, it was chosen for its strong connection to environmental concepts, which are present even in its name. A certification process that has such a huge concern with these values was preponderant for us, so we could achieve international credibility with our project.
What did you make the priority areas to ensure the development of Rio Olympic Golf Course was done in a responsible and sustainable way?
Our top priority areas involved mainly local wildlife and plantlife. However, wildlife due to be usually a less discussed topic in the consciousness of everyone, was to us an highlighted point throughout our project. Wildlife management, population control with diurnal and nocturnal identification of all species were some of the priority processes.
Rio Olympic Golf Course prides itself on having a strong sustainable legacy and close links to the native flora and fauna, how has and will Rio Olympic Golf Course contribute towards these things?
Rio Olympic Golf Course offered several legacies, in some sensitive areas specially those involving local wildlife and plantlife. In terms of plantlife, a very specific topic throughout our project was how to achieve the production of seedlings that could recover a property with one million square meters. These seedlings were not available on the market and so we had to produce them starting by collecting seeds in similar areas. A second equally sensitive issue was the question of transplanting large tree species that were present on site and needed relocation, where we had a resounding success. Finally, it was our goal to form ecological corridors with native areas. Those could make the connection between recovered areas with the existing ones. This was a main issue as wildlife could go through the whole property and freely without being confined in the few present areas. These and other examples on our course will have the ability to inspire other projects raising environmental awareness to all of us.
What do you think were the main lessons learned for golf course developments during the design and construction of Rio Olympic Golf Course and how would you like to see the future management and operations the club continue to follow the example that has been set?
One of our main lessons in this project was to understand that to recover an area of this size is not possible without a nursery. The second is that is not possible to create and built a course with these results alone. We need to have a multidisciplinary team composed of various professionals such as biologists, geographers, geologists, engineers, architects and even lawyers. This multidisciplinary is widely connected to our success. We hope that this process may be maintained in the future through the environmental management program developed by ECP Environmental Solutions, which includes wildlife and plantlife management, as well as monitoring air and water quality, waste management among other issues may continue so that all work can be maintained.
Would you recommend working with and the use of GEO guidance and certification system to other golf facility developers?
Completely. We strongly recommend GEO because they understand both golf and the environmental languages. We were fortunate to have Alexandra Almeida, GEO’s verifier, with whom we interact in an extremely professional manner and who always gave us support throughout the project. Being an unprecedented recovery in sandbank biome with such a big scale, there was indeed a certain initial skepticism, which is understandable, but we were always count with GEO's support to achieve the results that are now visible to all. Therefore, we recommend GEO to any project in Brazil or abroad since it has been proven that they have ability to recognize the specificities and individualities of each place they work with.
ECP Environmental Solutions is a multidisciplinary team with experience in environmental and urbanistic consulting for projects and constructions. Amongst them are mining, sports facilities, factories, harbors, house development, civil construction, parks and reserves, and effluent treatment in all parts of Brazil, offering support from the moment of land choice until project delivery.