LEEDing The Way!


I received an email from a reader wanting to learn more about a term mentioned in the interview with Jim Seeley from Kemper Sports, "LEED". So I figured I'd ask a few experts in the field to explain what exactly this means and how it currently, or could in the future, relate to golf.

LEED stands for Leader in Energy and Environmental Design. It was created by the United States Green Building Council in Wash DC. You can find their website at www.usgbc.org. Think of it like this it is like the organic seal that you find on food and personal care products. It is a rating system that certifies that a building has met certain standards that are energy, water efficient as well as environmentally friendly. The building treads lightly on the environment. It is a voluntary system with point system that the building owner has agreed to achieve. There are 3 levels each with their own point system that must be achieved to acquire certification. The levels are: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Go to the website for more information. www.usgbc.org.
Sarah Marr LEED AP

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design now also takes into account Neighborhood Development. It asks the potential building owner or resort/hotel/golf course developer as well as building professionals to consider environmental impact from the earliest planning stages. The certification process strives for the best combination of science and creativity using urban design, building technologies and materials currently. The ultimate goal is to create benefit to the community both inside and outside the facility while diminishing the negative impact on its occupants/visitors and the earth.
MaDiana Diaz, LEED® AP

If you haven’t seen these already you might want to look at a Golf Digest article found here and the referenced Golf and Environment Initiative found here.
The latter site has an impact and opportunities tab which has the following environmental impacts and opportunities identified:
What are golf's potential environmental impacts?
• Pollution of ground water and surface water caused by the use of pesticides, fertilizers, and other contaminants
• Poor stream water quality due to eroding shorelines
• Withdrawal of large quantities of water for irrigation
• Degradation or loss of natural areas
• Health hazards from chemical handling and applications
• Negative impacts of chemical use on “non-target” wildlife
• Unsound turf management driven by increasing and unrealistic golfer expectations and demands
What are golf's environmental opportunities?
• Provide needed wildlife sanctuaries
• Preserve natural areas within urban environments
• Support plants and wildlife native to the area
• Protect water resources
• Filter stormwater runoff through golf course wetlands and turfgrass
• Rehabilitate degraded landscapes
• Promote physical and mental well being, reducing stress for more than 25 million U.S. golfers
• Improve air quality and moderate temperature
• Educate golfers and the general public about the nature of the game and promote environmentally-sound management
Charles Coltharp

Not only does LEED cover the building but it would cover the course itself to be truely sustainable. The course would use rainwater to irrigate the course it would use natives in the rough that don't need extra watering, and you may need to go so far as depending on the climate especially in the the arid regions possibly sand or some other "fake grass" type of material for the fairways/greens to reduce the water impact.
Heather McGuire

LEED is designed to provide a comprehensive rating system that owners/designer/contractors and occupants can use to create a sustainable built environment. The two largest indicators of this is land use and energy consumption. Using LEED from the beginning of a project allows the project team to evaluate which items are practical and beneficial. It is a more holistic way to look at how your built structure impacts not just the environment but the occupants of the building and other users. It forces the team to look at the life-cycle cost of items not just the up front cost and can often be cheaper in the long run if your project is designed and executed well.
Brian Kershner

If you're looking for a short answer - LEED is a ruler for measuring the "green-ness" of a building.
Obviously that a very simplified response, and there's plenty to be said about the merits and shortcomings of the system regarding how accurately it measures environmental responsibility, but that covers it in abroad stroke.
I find it interesting that your readers are interested in sustainability. You’re likely aware (though maybe not) that gold courses are essentially the antithesis of environmental responsibility. They inefficiently utilize huge amounts of land, use enormous amounts of water, are highly energy intensive in their operation and maintenance and produce large amounts of pollution in the form of fertilizer and pesticide run-off.
I suppose it’s possible to create a golf course that might be more environmentally responsible than other courses, but due to the very nature of what a golf course is; I seriously doubt its possible to create a truly sustainable golf course.
Brandon Farley

LEED is one of over 70 recognized Green Building Rating systems in North America. The second largest in the United States is Green Globes (www.thegbi.com), the largest in the world is BREEAM (www.breeam.org. That being said, they all have similar goals to protect our environment through choices made in construction of buildings and other structures. As the previous writer mentioned, for golf courses, water and wood use are important concerns, as well as sitework, as the replanting of trees removed for fairways and greens which may not be directly awarded in any green building rating system, is also a good idea and a very 'green/sustainable' concept. Especially if forested land is being removed to create the golf course...(Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air - so we want to encourage more of them, by replanting if they are being removed.). So it is important to understand what green aspects will relate to a golf course out of any system and which do not make sense and result only in point chasing. All projects should be specifying sustainably harvested wood products, however, FSC is not the most common sustainable forestry designation in North America. FSI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), CSA (Canada Standards Association) and ATFS ( American Tree Farm System) are all comparable sustainable forestry systems that are readily available in North America and often at less cost than FSC. Together they represent more than 3/4 of the sustainably managed forest in North America. Both Green Globes and BREEAM accept all sustainable forestry designations, while LEED is in the process of reviewing alternatives to FSC. So if LEED designation is important, they can disregard the FSC point and still be 'green' and environmentally responsible by using other sustainable harvested wood products, possibly earning a point for locally produced materials instead (if available). But for a golf course site itself, pay attention to the site and tree replacement, even if none of the rating systems have yet to reward this contribution to improving our environment.
Cheryl Ciecko, AIA ALA, LEED AP