How to measure your environmental footprint: Emissions calculations at Remuera Golf Club

One of the most important steps to take when wanting to reduce your carbon footprint is to work out how much carbon you are emitting in the first place. Because if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Knowledge is power, and without it, you will never be able to prioritise your actions.

At Litefoot, we walk the talk: every staff member fills in a very detailed spreadsheet, working out how high our emissions are every month in the areas of: 

  • home (energy & waste)

  • transport (personal & public, as well as air travel)

  • food and accommodation.

This process has helped us identify the areas in life on which we should focus to reduce our personal footprints as best as we can. It has also provided us with an understanding of the impact each action has on the environment – who would have thought that consuming dairy is way worse for the environment than eating comparable amounts of pork or poultry?!

Of course, our own personal footprints are fairly small in the grand scheme of things, so in true Litefoot fashion we figured that emissions calculations are something that can be useful for sports clubs as well - and with much bigger opportunities at that. Thanks to funding from New Zealand Golf we got to work with the NZ Golf Industry Council and the Golf Sector Environmental Group to develop an emissions calculator specifically for golf clubs, with Auckland’s Remuera Golf Club as first trial club.

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Supported by the club’s superintendent Spencer Cooper our emissions expert Uday collected as much data as possible on the use of:

  • travel (transport, air travel & accommodation),

  • energy (fuel, electricity & gas consumption),

  • waste output,

  • water usage,

  • harvest and deforestation,

  • and fertiliser use.

Based on emission factors provided by MfE Uday compiled calculations for each of the categories and worked out that the CO2-e footprint created by Remuera Golf Club in 2018 falls at around 230 tonnes. To put this into perspective: A return flight from Auckland to Perth emits 1 tonne of CO2-e per passenger, which is the same amount of carbon that five Kanuka trees combined sink over their lifetime of approximately 20 years.

While our calculations are not certified by an official body they give the club a pretty good idea on where there is space for improvements. It can now act as a guide on which areas to tackle first to reduce the club’s environmental footprint.

And the club is eager to improve: they have already changed their power provider to use only 100% renewable energy (check out Ecotricity’s report on Remuera GC); they have committed to cutting down less trees and strategically planting more around the course; they will switch to Bio Diesel as soon as it’s commercially available; and they are looking into electric technologies, solar energy, and composting at their facilities.  

During the calculation process, our team used the results of a study that was done on the carbon sequestration of golf greens in NZ. The results of this study, combined with emissions factors for the trees growing on the property, indicate that the club actually sequesters more carbon than it produces through its greens and trees, namely 477 tonnes of CO2-e. The club now wants to work on registering their carbon offset potential, and apply for official Carbon Zero or Climate Positive certification.

 

We wish Remuera all the best for these endeavours and hope to help as best as we can going forward.

 

Antonia Gerlach