Free carbon calculator for courses


Sean Dudley

Phoenix-based design firm Golf Resources Group, along with turf specialist Environmental & Turf Services, has launched a carbon footprint calculator for golf courses.

Released under the name Carbonsave, the basic golf-specific calculations are free and available to any course. The web-based calculator allows users to input a course's basic resource data relating energy use, fertiliser and pesticide consumption, and fuel used. Mileage driven by company vehicles is also an option.

“We've developed this tool to give courses a quick-and-easy snapshot of total emissions and an idea of where to focus attention to reduce footprints,” said Dr Stuart Cohen, president of ETS. “Courses will know right away which parts of their operation emit the most carbon and which parts sequester the most.”

Based on US averages, the calculator reports the total net carbon emissions, given in tons, for the entire golf facility. It also calculates the total percentages of emissions attributed to each use, identifying areas of highest priority for reduction and potential cost savings.

Reducing a course's carbon footprint decreases resource use that will also lead to cost savings. The programme’s research suggests energy use accounts for more than 60 per cent of a facility's footprint and is the reason GRG became interested in assisting development of the calculator.

“When Dr Cohen first approached us with the idea, I knew right away this was something we needed to be involved with,” said golf course architect Andy Staples, ASGCA, president of GRG. “It's easy to say you want to reduce your footprint, but knowing how to actually do it takes some knowledge and experience.”

The calculator also addresses carbon sequestration, using inputs of the acreages of maintained turfgrass, trees, native grasses and shrubs. These areas are used to calculate a total amount of carbon sequestered via natural causes, and may one day be available for sale on a carbon market.

“We have no idea where the future carbon markets will lead,” said Cohen. “But if there is an opportunity for golf to take advantage of selling carbon credits, we want to be right there to help a course take advantage of it.”

To download a free copy of Carbonsave, visit the GRG website.