Golf courses use a variety of energy sources, primarily fossil fuel based (e.g. coal-generated electricity, gasoline, diesel). However, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal are increasingly being utilized and can provide a return on investment as well as increasing sustainability efforts at the facility.
To establish effective energy BMPs, the facility’s existing energy consumption should be evaluated, and goals set for energy reduction, conservation, and incorporation of new energy-saving technologies. Many energy-related BMPs overlap with other facility-related BMPs. For example, improving irrigation efficiency also reduces energy consumption. Having an efficient and well-maintained system, upgrading to a variable speed pump if/when possible, and reducing irrigation water consumption all reduce overall facility energy consumption.
14.1 Energy Audits and Evaluation
Increasing energy efficiency can decrease operating costs and reduce energy consumption. The first step in improving energy efficiency is to identify areas most in need of energy conservation through an energy audit. State agencies and local utilities can provide information and support for energy evaluation efforts. For example, DNREC offers Energy Assessment Grants, that can assist in evaluating appropriate, cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. DNREC also offers both grants and low-interest loans to support energy efficiency projects. Both are funded through the state’s Energy Efficiency Investment Fund (EEIF).
A thorough energy audit should:
- Evaluate insulation in heated buildings.
- Evaluate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system efficiency.
- Determine annual energy usage.
- Itemize usage according to various categories.
- Determine if energy usage during non-peak hours is maximized.
- Compare usage with similar small businesses.
- Identify areas of improvement.
The results of an energy audit can be used to establish an environmental plan and to set energy conservation goals. An energy management plan sets a baseline related to current energy use and incorporates quality management elements (plan, do, check, and act) for continual improvements. Once goals for energy conservation are established and documented, this policy should be communicated to all staff.
Evaluating the performance of an energy conservation program requires tracking and measuring energy use at the facility based on energy assessment units (e.g. kilowatt hours or BTUs). Monitoring energy usage can be accomplished with energy management software or programs such as the EPA’s Portfolio Manager, which also incorporates features such as reporting, savings calculations, and carbon footprint calculations. To benchmark performance, energy consumption can be compared with other local golf facilities of similar size or more generally to buildings of similar size.
14.2 Energy Efficiency Improvements
Energy efficiency improvements vary widely from opportunities to build/renovate buildings adhering to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards to simple and much less expensive improvements such as installing programmable thermostats and low-flow faucets. The energy audit results, energy conservation goals, and the available budget will help prioritize improvements over time.
14.3 Green and Alternative Energy
Green and alternative energy can be incorporated into golf course operations. Golf courses can become small-scale generators of energy through wind, solar, and photovoltaic installations, as well as geothermal heating and pumping. Golf courses normally have the land, space, and natural resources available on the property to lend themselves to energy generation as newer technologies become more affordable.
Some policies, financial incentives, and loan opportunities exist at the state and local level for renewables and energy efficiency measures at commercial enterprises such as golf courses. State agencies and energy providers can provide information, expertise, and incentives to help achieve these goals. For more information, see the Delaware Renewable Energy Assistance program web page.
14.4 Energy Best Management Practices
Energy Audits and Evaluation Best Management Practices
- Conduct an energy audit, including lighting, insulation, and HVAC systems.
- Monitor energy use by tracking statistics and “time of use” data.
- Install precision meters, gauges, etc.
- Develop an equipment inventory that documents individual equipment’s energy use, traffic patterns, maintenance records, operation hours, etc.
- Benchmark performance against similar-sized facilities.
- Evaluate and monitor all energy sources, tracking both costs and any usage trends.
- Educate, train, and motivate employees on energy efficiency practices pertaining to golf course operations.
Energy Efficiency Improvements Best Management Practices
- Consider pursuing the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification for new buildings and existing building retrofits.
- Add insulation where needed.
- Use non-peak electrical hours for charging golf carts and maintenance equipment.
- Prioritize pump station usage during non-peak hours.
- Upgrade irrigation systems to variable speed pumps.
- Limit high-consumption activities when demand is high.
- Install LED lighting and other high-efficiency alternatives.
- Install motion sensors for lights where appropriate.
- Install low-flow faucets.
- Install programmable thermostats.
- Consider energy management software.
- Utilize the EPA’s Energy Star and Portfolio Manager programs.
- Utilize the EPA’s WaterSense program.
- Prioritize energy consumption as part of decision-making when making purchases concerning all aspects of facility management.
- Evaluate effectiveness of upgrades according to efficiency and conservation goals for energy use.
Green and Alternative Energy Best Management Practices
- Use alternative energy from natural sources, such as solar, geothermal, and wind energy generation when possible.
- Assess the viability of small-scale wind, solar, and photovoltaic installations.
- Install geothermal heating and cooling systems.
- Install solar/geothermal pumps for pools and spas.