Facility Profile - July/August 2006
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Greener Greens

Old Greenwood Golf Facility
Truckee, Calif.

By Kelli Anderson

A Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course nestled in the scenic mountains near Lake Tahoe, Calif., might be near heaven-on-earth for some. However, for the Old Greenwood golf facility and resort community, recently green-building certified, some would say the real beauty is in the economically and eco-friendly design.

When it opened in 2004, Old Greenwood's Natural Resource Management Center, designed and built by East West Partners (Old Greenwood's parent company) as part of the larger golf course and resort community, was granted the coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, making it the first such designation in the country for a golfing facility.

The building functions for two year-round, organically managed golf courses in the resort community of Truckee, Calif., and houses offices, a golf-course maintenance facility, fuel and wash stations, an irrigation and fertilization pump-house, material recycling bays, and storage islands.

Water conservation, a major component of LEED criteria and one focus of this project, was addressed in several creative design features including both water recycling and water-use reduction. The golf course's irrigation water comes from both recycled vehicle and equipment wash water from the wash station as well as from recaptured rainwater treated by recirculation ponds. Furthermore, water use has been reduced by infrared faucet controls, waterless urinals and an evaporation-minimizing drip irrigation system.

Landscaping using xeroscaping techniques also has made more efficient use of water. By planting drought-tolerant materials and native species and using strategic plant placement, landscaped areas typically don't require more than the watering achieved through natural rainfall.

And don't forget the gardener's gold: compost. Turning organic castoffs into the nutrient-rich compost landscaped areas love is another good green move.

But recycling and reusing doesn't just stop there. Not only does the facility function as a recycling center for water and organic materials, but its very construction was recycle-sensitive. While the project diverted more than 94 percent of construction waste away from landfill by recycling and reuse, more than 10 percent of the building materials used were of post-consumer recycled content-good for the environment and good for the budget.

"A big perception is that it costs so much-it doesn't," says Aaron Revere, director of environmental initiative with East West Partners. "Invest in a good design. Use recycled steel-it costs nothing-recycle water, buy local and reduce energy consumption."

These practices, he suggests, are the foundation of good green design. As with any successful project, considering everything upfront is crucial, from figuring needs for square footage to how to efficiently move recycled materials from point A (receptacles) to point B (recycling areas). Oversights or mistakes can be costly.

In the end, when green is thoughtfully and creatively factored into a design, a facility easily can exceed state energy codes (read: significant cost-reduction), reduce the ecological footprint and improve community relations.

The project also allowed for a 259-acre parcel preserve of ponderosa pine forest ecosystem, which has a permanent conservation easement and is dedicated to the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

Green design is certainly nothing new for East West Partners, whose commitment to both its ecological and economic benefits have made green design a trademark feature of all the company's projects. Other projects that will soon submit for LEED green building status include Old Greenwood's Swim-Fitness Pavilion and House Pro Shop. Following suit, the Highlands Lodge Resort and Spa has registered as a new LEED construction project.

From the use of recycled materials, such as aged and attractive reclaimed timber or recycled steel to the little details of using recycled paper or cashing in on recycled bottles, a commitment to creative ecological solutions have reaped very real business dividends.

For such successful golf courses like Old Greenwood, increasing revenues requires creative problem-solving when a fully booked course can't increase the time on the tees and increasing fees would be counterproductive. The solution, Revere says, is to reduce expenses with recycling.

"We've found we saved 30 percent in waste-management costs at another of our courses," Revere explains. "To keep people coming, people love service. If you save money, then you can justify hiring more people (to wipe noses if you have to) to make people happy. It's a shift from a throwaway philosophy to good service."

The incentive to recycle and save money also comes from the employees themselves. Although they may, doubtless, share the management's desire to be nice to Mother Nature, they also receive some personal benefits. The proceeds, for example, from the year's recycled bottles are used to fund the year-end staff party. Who says recycling can't be fun?

Innovations in the pursuit of ecologically and economically rewarding solutions keep employees motivated and interested in their work and produces an environment where patrons see constant, positive change.

"If you don't innovate and improve, you'll get customers stolen," Revere says. "The important thing is it's fun. Part of improving is it's not the same thing all the time. New ideas and challenges keep it fun and interesting."

And it doesn't have to begin big. Revere advises to start small-recycle, compost. In fact, for some facilities that go the effort to build green but neglect the details of continued recycling and cost-savings, the result is not only unauthentic but is hard to keep the momentum going.

Evaluation is key to continued improvement and success.

"If you don't measure it, you can't manage it," Revere says. "If you don't count how many dollars you made, how can you do better?"

For some, implementing green design elements is not a matter of starting big or small, it's whether to start at all. According to Revere, there are four stages organizations go through before embracing the proverbial tree-of-green. First comes denial: "I can't do that." Second comes the willingness to listen and hear more. Third is beginning to talk about it. Fourth is implementing ideas.

Once a decision is made to embrace elements of green design, the commitment to see it through can pay off in a myriad of ways. And when it succeeds, everybody wins.


Old Greenwood: