What are the new elements in GEO’s Sustainable Golf Development Standard 2.0?

By: September 22, 2021

The first version/edition of GEO’s Sustainable Golf Development Standard was created in 2016. The main focus was three areas:

  1. Preparation
  2. Design
  3. Construction

Even then, I really missed the fourth element/phase, the “follow-up.” To remain relevant and stay in business golf courses should be part of the modern sustainability movement.

Climate change is challenging the golf club business and the golf industry itself to demonstrate eco-friendliness and sustainable operations. The good news is that there are so many innovations that can help us achieve this goal.

By investing in sustainability, golf clubs can demonstrate to people positive behavior and influence them. I am still looking for golf clubs that have got annual sustainability reports like Juventus FC & Mercedes Benz Stadium have got.

GEO Sustainable Golf Development Standard 2nd edition-Hoiana Shores Vietnam
Hoiana Shores Golf Club, Vietnam

Sustainable Golf Development Standard 2.0

In the Sustainable Golf Development Standard 2.0, we can find a renewed focus on areas such as increased transparency, carbon impacts, flexible construction timelines, circular economy, and the impacts of agronomic decision-making. 

To achieve decarbonization it would be wise to consider

  • bioenergy;
  • carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS);
  • digitalization of buildings: “smart” buildings benefit from advanced sensing and controls, systems integration, data analytics and energy optimization to actively reduce energy use and demand while also improving occupant comfort, health, productivity and facility resilience..

The document provides a tighter framework, which can guide the process of delivering any new golf developments and renovations, from site selection through to opening day – delivering positive social and environmental value throughout. 

The seven members of the International Expert Working Group, which helped shape this latest edition, included representatives from

  1. Society of Australian Golf Course Architects;
  2. American Society of Golf Course Architects;
  3. The European Institutes of Golf Course Architects;
  4. Golf course builders – through Landscapes Unlimited;
  5. Australian National University,
  6. Former European Commission representatives and
  7. Wetlands International.  
GEO-Sustainable Golf Development Standard 2nd-resized

The revision of the standard was carried out in line with ISEAL Alliance’s Code of Good Practice for Standard Setting. GEO has been part of the ISEAL Alliance since 2015 and the rigor and credibility of that code are central to the revision of the voluntary sustainability standard.

These same codes of good practice are followed by other well-known sustainability bodies including Fairtrade, The Rainforest Alliance, and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).