Remuera Golf Club

GEO Certified® 09/2016
Auckland,
New Zealand
Telephone: +64212298550
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Executive summary (English & local language)

Remuera Golf Club is a well-established, high profile course located in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. It is in a suburban neighbourhood close to the central city and is bounded by neighbouring residences, a road and Waiatarua nature reserve.

Facilities include an 18-hole, par 72 golf course, large practice range, practice green, clubhouse buildings, pro-shop and starter’s hut. There are also 3 residences on the course which house staff.

The course is busy, hosting around 60,000 rounds per annum, with 1600 active members. Membership is full, with only the women’s membership waiting list being open. The course is built on predominantly clay soils, over the past few years the course has been progressively upgrading tees and new USGA spec greens and this work is continuing.

I visited the club on 9 August 2016, and was guided around the facility by the Superintendent, meeting the Clubhouse Operations Manager and Greenkeeping staff, the clubhouse chef and very briefly the General Manager. All were very enthusiastic about the GEO exercise, the opportunity to work towards sustainability and to be a voice for it. During the course tour I spoke briefly with some members who were thrilled with the sustainability activities that the Superintendent is undertaking on the course.

Remuera have been busy making meaningful efforts towards sustainability and awareness of sustainability issues around the facility.

Nature

Remuera Club have detailed consultations and surveys providing guidelines for conservation and enhancement which the Club is implementing. They have demonstrated a good understanding of their ecology and environment, turfgrass species requirements and undertake good practices to reduce inputs required for maintenance. Strategies are effectively communicated to staff, club members and visitors / the public.

The course consults a good range of relevant organisations and experts – turfgrass specialists, environmental consultants, an arborist, the City Council and Department of Conservation - regarding landscape heritage, ecosystem protection and enhancement, and suitable turfgrass species.
Detailed landscape and ecological surveys have been prepared for the Club, as well as a Tree Management Plan.

The local Council has designated the course as Urban Open Space and Recreational Space, with native and non-native flora.
Detail regarding wildlife species, ecological habitats and enhancement is contained within the Biodiversity Advice from the Council, and the club are following this advice.

They are keeping a visual eye on changes to habitats such as in the woodland area adjacent to hole 1, and to species present such as bird varieties, but are not keeping a formal record.

The club receives input into its selection of turfgrass species and is transitioning to species on tees and greens which are recognised as being well suited to the climate, the site and playability of the course.
By creating naturalised areas in the rough / out of play, there are reductions in areas of managed turf.
The superintendent has been at the course nearly 2 years and he is instigating other transitions in approaches to turfgrass management, including cutting out pesticide applications and fertilising on a spoon feeding basis only, coring mown areas as well as sourcing organic inputs and microbial solutions.

Its turfgrass management policies are communicated well to members through online newsletters and notices at the Club.

As an operational golf course, Remuera is undertaking relatively large scale ecological restoration, habitat enhancement with genuine landscape and biodiversity value.
To date they have naturalised approximately 2Ha of the golf course, creating grasslands and native bush in appropriate areas on the golf course, with a plan to increase this to around 5Ha.
Based on a landscape plan, the club is planting native trees in areas to screen roads, and removing some exotic ‘ornamental’ garden species replacing with native species.
A small section has been planted with exotic trees (Eugenia australis) which are low input trees chosen for their ability to ‘screen off’ the road left of hole 14 and provide flowers and fruit for birds and insects. These are a minority of the new trees planted and there is no plan for further exotics.

Being adjacent to a nature reserve, the club is aware of planning connections and corridors with the reserve, as well as within the golf course.

Conservation and enhancement activities are as follows:

- Created new habitats
- Created naturalised areas and areas native bush
- Provided feeding stations for native birds – for example, Tui, around the clubhouse, which is having the effect of minimising the nuisance and health and safety risk of sparrows around the clubhouse.
- Installed bee hives
- Removed exotic trees and replaced with natives in desired / appropriate areas (ongoing)
- Replacing old on course metal signage and plastic tee markers with recycled timber

Water

Remuera have undertaken measures to conserve and reduce water consumption, and raise awareness of this goal, throughout the facility, including significant investment in a new irrigation system for the course.

The Club stated sources of water however only had one year’s worth of data – 2015. This is the minimum permitted for GEO certification. Previous recording hardware was replaced because it was faulty and there were no previous records kept
However, for the clubhouse and other buildings, an energy efficiency company, “LiteClub” had visited in 2011 and again 2016. The LiteClub report noted specific actions the club had taken that will have reduced water consumption, such as the installation of dual flush toilets, low flow urinals and shower heads, and aerators fitted to mixer taps.

Clubhouse, ancillary buildings and maintenance building all use potable water, and there is a shared meter.

The Golf Course and wash down bays utilise water sourced from an offsite, nearby quarry which collects storm water as well as providing ground water. In seasons of little rainfall the water comes from these aquifers at the quarry site.

The quantity of irrigation water used for the period given is very low. Records have only been kept for approximately a year and the summer was quite wet – meaning little irrigation was required.

The club has invested in significant irrigation infrastructure upgrades and are undertaking good system maintenance and servicing, with a full time irrigation technician to help diagnose and repair leaks.
Over the past 7 years new pipes / fittings are being installed with remodelling areas of the course, with 7 holes/ greens remaining.

Last year (2015) a fully automated computer controlled Toro Links 4.2.2 (latest 2015) irrigation system with flow management software was installed and has been mapped. The club is provided with regular updates and software backup. The system control includes a portable i-tablet which the greens staff can take on the course to test / operate individual sprinklers.

Only critical highly maintained areas – greens, tees and fairways - are irrigated and the use of wetting agents, analysis of soil moisture, measures such as coring and verticutting, as well as organic microbes, all work towards minimising the need for, and maximising the effectiveness of, irrigation water.

Green sprinklers have been changed to give 360 degree arcs to ensure efficient coverage as opposed to part-circles that in strong winds for example might not cover the required area and lead to greater inputs.

New golf turfgrass species such as fine fescues, creeping bent and perennial ryegrass that are more drought tolerant and suitable for the clay soils, requiring less maintenance, have been and continue to be introduced to tees, surrounds and greens.

Low flow urinals and dual flush toilets are installed throughout the facility.
Low flow shower heads in the clubhouse areas and staff facilities

Energy

The Club has good records of energy consumption data and are creating awareness to staff through internal communications about energy saving measures.

An energy use study of buildings and appliances has been undertaken by independent consultants, “LiteClub” and the ‘Efficiency Action Plan’ created by them includes measures to reduce energy usage. The Club has taken, and is taking further steps to implement recommendations received and have shown reductions in energy use.

All electrical energy is from the grid, with an estimated 50% split between renewable and non-renewable with a decrease in consumption of both types from 2013 to 2015. This is due to activities such as replacing lightbulbs throughout the facility with more energy efficient bulbs, the installation of a full in ground, automated irrigation system instead of using old travelling irrigators. These were inefficient, ran night and day losing water through evaporation during daytime irrigation, meaning that the irrigation pumps ran for much longer. This has been combined with a concerted effort to fix leaks to aid efficiency of the system. The installation of gas fire places will also have led to a reduction in electricity for heating.
For the same period the use of non-renewable diesel, petrol and hydraulic oil has decreased also with actions such as closing monitoring ‘need’ for mowing, fertilising and using more organics. The Superintendent has a detailed spreadsheet of monthly fuel usage / purchasing / tracking.

The use of natural gas has fluctuated, but increased since 2013. This is possibly due to gas fire places installed for heating in the clubhouse / bar area.

Passive building elements that let in natural light including roof panels at the maintenance shed and large glass doors and windows at the clubhouse. At the Clubhouse these are only single glazed which is not efficient insulation, but do allow air flow in summer. Orientation and layout of the clubhouse and maintenance shed buildings provide shade – which is more useful in summer.

In its Energy Efficient Report, LiteClub gave Remuera an ‘award’ for its use of efficient appliances.

The club receives a ‘green tariff’ supply, and have looked at more ‘green suppliers’ such as Mercury Energy, but their supply is more expensive.
The club plans to investigate diversified energy supplies.

Activities undertaken to reduce energy and fuel consumption include:
- Motion sensor lighting
- Installation of energy efficient light bulbs / low energy lighting. Ongoing replacement of halogen bulbs with LEDs.
- Clear panels in maintenance shed to reduce lighting
- Electric golf carts
- Signs at light switches reminding people to turn them off, applicances with timer
- New appliances planned to be installed kitchen
- Upgrading of heating units with the installation of 2 new energy efficient units and direct ventilation systems.
- Adjusting thermostat levels according to seasonal need
- Secure cycle parking, staff showers and lockers encourage reductions in staff emissions.
- Installation of more efficient irrigation system and fixing leaks

Supply Chain

The Club does not yet have documented purchasing policies but in terms of general good practice they tend to buy from local suppliers and support local businesses.
They have provided detailed data for fertiliser and pesticide use (internal record keeping is excellent in this regard), undertake IPM activities which reduce inputs required, and have instigated good waste reduction and separation initiatives.

The club does not yet have written policies dealing with ethical and environmental purchasing, but do prefer to deal with local suppliers, businesses and contractors. They look at using products on the golf course that are ‘biogrow’ certified and energy products that are EECA (Energy, Efficiency, and Conservation Authority) certified.

The Club was able to demonstrate an overview of the location of their suppliers, and aim to purchase from suppliers in as close proximity to the course as possible.
While they do not purchase directly from overseas, a lot of goods do come from overseas because items are not manufactured in NZ.

A detailed Course Maintenance Strategy is being followed. It contains a number of IPM activities, with the steps / goals being the use of good cultural practices, then biological controls in pest management with chemical use as a last resort.
The club selects the most appropriate and least toxic pesticide products, following guidance from chemical manuals, “Growsafe” training and research into non-chemical products.

The introduction of appropriate golf turfgrasses suited to the site conditions leads to lower inputs and applications are only made based on close monitoring.

Fertiliser and pesticide data provided covers only 2015, but is detailed.Ongoing records will provide comparison data.

The Club has a good waste management programme, taking significant steps towards minimising waste, reuse and recycling activities throughout the facility. Staff training regularly includes education on environmental goals, care in discarding waste, and members are kept informed through regular newsletters and notices at the course.

Waste and recycle bins were evident throughout the facility as well as reuse bins at the maintenance facility.

Waste audits have not yet been undertaken.

Measures undertaken to reuse, recycle and minimise waste include:
Where possible and appropriate the club buys in bulk to avoid packaging waste. They do buy some pesticides in bulk where it is stored safely on site within legal requirements. They ensure they do not buy too much product and let it reach expiration dates.

The clubhouse chef has investigated using eco materials and has switched to sandwich packaging and paper serviettes that are made from recycled material and are recyclable.
“Love NZ” has awarded the club funding to install large dual recycling stations at the clubhouse as well as dual recycling bins for each hole on the golf course.
Clippings are returned to the golf course after mowing that area, and clippings from greens and tees are collected and spread in rough where fertilisers are not used. There is the potential where greens clippings are spread in rough they become anaerobic and smother grass rather than composting. This needs to be monitored and possibly use the concrete base storage area for composting.

Mulch is stored near the maintenance area in a concrete base storage area and reused / given away.

Pollution Control

The Club undertakes good practices to minimise / control potential pollution from their everyday activities as well as during special projects such as earthworks and demonstrate compliance with relevant legislation.
They are particularly aware of being ‘good neighbours’, being located next to a public open space reserve and within a residential neighbourhood.
The club adheres to strict Health and Safety guidelines.

Water quality is monitored and evidence of testing is provided.
Outflow water is visually monitored by the superintendent and it is not formally tested as it is combines with a pipeline from neighbours – i.e. outflow is shared.

The club is aware where waste water and run-off goes after leaving the golf course, and there are formal discharge agreements in place for waste water from all areas of the facility with “Watercare”.

Stormwater filters through the course and into the reserve where there are wetlands that further filter water.

The maintenance area washdown pad water goes to mains sewer. The pad is impermeable concrete area sloping to a central collection sump where solids are collected and settle out. Once a week the staff manually collect solids and Waste Management dispose of them accordingly.
The club has planned for a closed loop ESD Bio Remediation Plant to be installed in the future when budget allows.

Chemical control, storage, handling and disposal at the maintenance area is registered and carried out according to regulations and the Club has current certificates for Location Test and Approved Handlers.

Hazardous materials are stored securely and all but detergents have a registered uplift; for cooking oils uplift is twice weekly, where it’s filtered and recycled.

The Club demonstrates sound measures to prevent pollution, and at the maintenance area are in line with regulations and best practice.
There is appropriate infrastructure in good condition such as sealed impervious surfaces, covered areas, containment booms and above ground fuel tanks with good secondary containment. These are also requirements of the Location Test Certificate which is current.

Spillage response plan is part of the Health and Safety Certificate and staff are trained in emergency responses and risk management.

The Club has recently been recognised by LiteClub as having good waste management practices followed by the staff, with materials separation, reuse, recycling, and good disposal methods. An awareness campaign is in its early stages.

Remuera undertakes some good measures to prevent pollution on the golf course, by firstly preferring to use organic and stabilised fertiliser products, and having around 2Ha (which they are working on increasing) of pesticide free naturalised areas as well as mown roughs. The installation of bee hives creates awareness of pesticide free zones.

The four ponds have some extent of native buffer / wetland planting around them, these could be further enhanced.

Formation of swales and bio-filters is being introduced as part of the redevelopment of holes.

Community

Remuera can be seen to be a voice for sustainability, and providing a connection between people and their local environment. They have undertaken activities which communicate and provide sustainability education and awareness initiatives both internally and externally, with the neighbourhood and wider community.
The club has buildings which are with shared with other golfing bodies and available for functions which can also broaden their reach.

Most of the staff are full time employees, some are part time, and except for the course superintendent the greenstaff are provided by a course maintenance company.

Sustainability awareness regarding water management, waste minimisation and energy use is communicated to greenstaff through formal and informal meetings, and both theoretical and on the job training for spraying of pesticides. Strategies to maintain the course more fuel efficiently are communicated to staff. Stickers throughout the facility remind staff to switch lights off and the new separate waste / recycling bins are a reminder about sustainability.

The club has detailed and robust Health and Safety systems, communicated through meetings, on the job discussions and training, and access to online documentation which staff are shown how to use.

There is a sustainability working group who meet to discuss strategies for the club / course management and sustainability. Made up of the club manager, clubhouse operations manager, superintendent, and members of the Board, the meeting minutes are recorded and shared on YAMMER (a social networking service used for private communication within organisations),
the club’s internal communications platform which all staff use.

The Club is proactive in community relations and have demonstrated measures to engage positively and constructively with neighbours, local community and environmental organisations, as well as the Department of Conservation.

The club has developed relationships with two local schools, presenting at the schools, and a student from Auckland University conducted environmental research on the course for her thesis.

In 2015 Remuera carried out a letter drop to neighbours to inform them about GEO activities and specifically the naturalised areas around the boundaries shared with housing. Leasing the land from Council the club liaises with them on sustainability issues, as well as with the nature reserve adjacent.

Over the past couple of years Remuera has hosted the Holden NZ PGA which is covered by local media and a television golf show films on the course frequently. They also host a greenkeepers tournament and both of these the club uses as an opportunity to raise awareness. The head greenkeeper is on the committee for the Auckland Golf Course Superintendents Association.

There is no cultural heritage specific to the site and therefore no cultural heritage information.

There are good access paths to /from neighbouring properties and to/from the adjacent reserve which are maintained, and people walk their dogs sometimes in the evenings. Generally use of the paths is limited during golfing hours due to security, and health & safety issues associated with golf balls.

There is capacity in the existing buildings on the site that is superfluous to the requirements of the Club, allowing them to make such space available for use by others. Currently some space is used by Auckland Golf, and is also being prepared for NZ Golf to take up. There is ‘member’s lounge’ that is available for hire for conferences, functions etc, that is well used.

There is golf coaching at the club. The club is in discussions with local tennis / racquet club and bridge club to potentially provide these additional activities on site, as well a possible aquatics facility.

Remuera have a very good internal communication system that includes environmental, community and sustainability issues.
They use noticeboards throughout the facility, have a facebook page and electronic newletters to members, as well as regular staff meeting and an ‘intranet’ system where meeting minutes are uploaded. There is a tracking facility to see who has read the internal minutes, and an internal social media platform

There is a nature trail in the reserve next door and the golf course landscape is being enhanced to link the two properties. However as health & safety is a consideration through the site of the golf course none are planned through the course.

Remuera have issued a press release about their GEO activities, as well as mentioning it in their glossy promotional Club brochures. They have also undertaken a letter drop and school visits.

Documentation Reviewed

Conclusion

Remuera Golf Club acts as an enthusiastic voice for sustainability, undertaking a number of significant good practice activities, many of which are visually evident enhancing the natural aspects of the course, and making considerable efforts in communication. Generally ‘above average’ in all categories, the Club has made exciting progress and has plans to continue with upgrading equipment and other ongoing improvements. Information provided is thorough, documentation is good and I am pleased to recommend certification.
With the superintendent having been there less than 2years, in some areas only one year’s worth of data was available, however he is conscientious in having set up new systems and excellent detailed record keeping, which will help with monitoring and comparisons in the future.

Certification Highlights

Substantial efforts are visible in naturalisation of nearly 3% of the course (aiming to increase this to around 7%), and biodiversity with the habitat creation, new native planting, bee hives, and bird feeders that are encouraging native birds. These areas are providing good links and connectivity through the course and to the adjacent nature reserve.

Communication and education outreach, both within the club and the community is considerable and positive, with internal online tools, formal and informal training, including sustainability awareness and health and safety, letter drops to neighbours and visits to local schools. As a high profile club in a residential neighbourhood with land leased from the Council, these communications are particularly meaningful.

The maintenance team stays up to date with IPM techniques and agronomic advancements, transitioning the course to better adapted turfgrass varieties and employing management techniques that effectively reduce chemical inputs – evidenced by the results, rather than comparative/ quantitative data with only one year’s figures being available. However the records provided for pesticide, fertiliser and other turf applications are excellent and worth highlighting

The club has undertaken significant investment in new infrastructure with the installation of a new computerised / fully automated irrigation system, with in the field control of individual sprinkler heads. While data has only been collected for a year, it is likely this will lead to a reduction in irrigation water usage as well as energy – having replaced an inefficient old system.