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Measuring golf’s carbon footprint benefits the entire industry

March 2, 2011 -  By

By: Jim Novak, Turfgrass Producers International

The Colorado Golf Carbon Project was initiated to recognize the ecological value of golf courses and to fund related environmental research. The research findings resulting from such an undertaking will no doubt benefit everybody involved with turfgrass, whether we’re talking about turfgrass on golf courses, sports fields, community parks or home lawns.

Presently, there are numerous studies underway to measure just how much carbon is sequestered by turfgrass. What sets the Colorado Golf Carbon Project apart from other research efforts may be the scope of the study. Although it is currently limited to golf courses in the state of Colorado, the number of golf courses involved and the methodology that’s being employed is likely to provide some interesting results. More importantly, the manner in which this study is getting funding and how those funds will be used is also unique.        (Images courtesy Jim Novak, Turfgrass Producers International)

The project is an extension of previous groundbreaking environmental projects completed in Colorado by Colorado State University, the USDA-ARS, and the Allied Golf Associations of Colorado. The information generated by this project will have a lasting impact on the management of energy, water and other environmental issues encountered by golf courses and will most likely provide insight into management practices anywhere that natural turfgrass is used including home lawns.

Primary goals

Develop a carbon emission and carbon sequestration data collection system for golf courses of Colorado. Results documenting the total carbon effects of sequestration and emissions will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Document the sequestered carbon at Colorado’s golf facilities on an annual basis and create marketable offsets, thus creating a self sustaining funding mechanism for this and future projects aimed at improving conservation and environmental stewardship at golf facilities.


Participation in the project is available to those companies and organizations that would purchase Carbon Certificates from Golfpreserves at $10 per ton to join the growing effort of many to improve the environmental sustainability of turfgrass through such research. The USDA will match with federal funding (approximately $70,000 per year) to the Colorado project. The proceeds from sold Carbon Certificates will be invested in research focusing on carbon sequestration, energy conservation, environmentally improved turfgrass and environmental stewardship.

Long-term benefit

Kirk Hunter, executive director of The Lawn Institute stated the following upon making the announcement of The Lawn Institute’s support, “The Lawn Institute is excited to be part of a program that highlights one of the many benefits and ecosystem services of natural grass. It is our hope that the Colorado Golf Carbon project serves as a successful pilot that can be expanded nationwide in an effort to support research and help establish and communicate the economic and environmental value of carbon that is sequestered by turfgrass.”

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About the Author:

Novak is public relations manager for Turfgrass Producers International.

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