Venice Golf and Country Club GEO Certified
An outstanding example of environmentally sensitive golf, The Venice Golf and Country Club has gained international recognition as a sustainability leader with the GEO Certified ecolabel, in a region of the United States that boasts more golf courses per capita than anywhere in the world.
“The natural beauty of our 460 tropical acres is central to the appeal of this member-owned golf community,” said Jim Schell, CCM, General Manager of Venice GCC, “Fifty-two acres of nature preserves, ecologically rich woodlands and lakes are managed with both golfers and wildlife in mind. We’re also working hard to ensure that our management activities have benefits that extend outside the boundaries of the club.”
“Just a few years ago parts of this site had become overrun with invasive exotic plants, negatively impacting the local flora and fauna communities. Brazilian Pepper trees were crowding out native vegetation and Malalueca trees had proliferated in wetland areas, drying them out and decreasing their biodiversity value. After securing approval from two government entities, we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore our wetlands to a natural state.”
“These efforts have encouraged wildlife movement through the corridors that connect our wetland and upland areas, while improving the size and health of the indigenous buffer zones that integrate golf and nature. American bald eagles, sandhill cranes, herons, egrets, and song birds can be frequently seen, with confirmed sightings of Bobcats and the Florida panther on the property.”
Complementing these notable ecological projects, VGCC has demonstrated achievement across each of the key themes assessed for the GEO Certified ecolabel, with standout achievements in energy, community outreach, water and ‘greening’ the supply chains that are essential to club operations.
As part of the wide-ranging support enlisted from Vancouver-based GEO Sustainability Associate (GEOSA) Scott Morrison, who works with Andy Staples and the Golf Resource Group (GRG) in the US, the Venice management team is now actively communicating its preference for sustainable products, services and practices to its network of suppliers:
“When we came to look at the supply-chain impact of the club we realized that you can't manage what you don't measure,” said Morrison, “So logically we needed to gather data on the whole supply network. After surveying suppliers and service providers about their own supply networks, mapping these results and developing a Green Product Procurement Policy, we have been able to determine ‘greener’ products and services that can be purchased locally, thus supporting the local economy and reducing inherent emissions and air pollution.”
“Energy has also been a focus for several years at VG&CC,” added Jim Schell, “Initially, our motivation was to reduce electrical consumption, but the scope of our efforts has now expanded to include the use of geothermal pumps in the swimming pool and spa area. In addition, we are running the gasses generated by air conditioning and refrigeration unit compressors through a series of zero energy hot water generators. Our kitchen operations now benefit from free hot water.”
Golf clubs worldwide are working to source the most sustainable water supplies and Venice is no exception. Accredited Verifier Bud Smart, GEOSA, a highly regarded freshwater ecologist who has worked on over two-hundred golf projects in twenty-two countries, was distinctly impressed buy the awareness of the management team and their efforts to contribute to the health of the Myakka River watershed:
“Venice G&CC boasts well established water use policies that are logical yet innovative. In making efforts to secure sustainable long-term supplies of irrigation water, the club made a 2005 agreement with the county and state to route stormwater runoff from a 44 acre lake at a closed county landfill, via a specially made connection. 99% of the club’s irrigation water now comes from this source of surface runoff, a solution that is a testament to ingenuity, creativity and perseverance.”
“As well as delivering sustainability education to staff and members, the club is committed to playing a role in the wider community. A public walking trail has been developed around the county lake, and a charitable foundation established to help local causes. This has resulted in a great deal of positive contact with the local community with around $150,000 donated over the last few years.”
Read Bud’s Verification Report on the GEO website: http://www.golfenvironment.org/clubs/thevenicegolfandcountryclub/verifiers-report
Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of the Golf Environment Organization, is proud to see another progressive US club achieve the GEO Certified ecolabel:
“The management team at Venice G&CC clearly has a thorough understanding of the property and surrounding landscapes, conservation areas, and the relationship of their golf course to local ecosystems. Multiple projects have lessened their environmental footprint while simultaneously raising the ecological value of the site. By implementing creative solutions to challenges that many golf clubs face, Venice G&CC has a great deal to be proud of and to share across the local community and the golf industry.”