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For sustainability, meet the EPG

For sustainability, meet the EPG: Senior Environmental Consultant Dr Tom Young introduces the newest member of the STRI family, The Environmental Protection Group (EPG), and takes a closer look as to how the new partnership can help manage water at sports facilities.

The Environmental Protection Group (EPG), established in 1998, is a leading independent geo-environmental engineering design consultancy delivering cost-effective, sustainable designs focused in the areas of contaminated land remediation and gas protection, sustainable water management, flood risk assessment and structural waterproofing.

For sustainability, meet the EPG

For sustainability, meet the EPG

STRI and EPG have been working closely with one another since 2010 when the two companies worked together on a number of London 2012 Olympics projects. It was formally announced in August 2020 that STRI and EPG had joined forces and EPG is now part of the STRI Group.

Figure 1

Figure 1

EPG has a huge amount of experience in water management plans, site-wide drainage schemes and sustainable water harvesting. Coupled with STRI’s agronomic, research and design capabilities, the Group now has the ability to further assist sports facilities. In particular, EPG has vast experience in designing Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS), which are now more commonplace and often required as part of any planning conditions. EPG was actually co-author of the CIRIA SuDS Manual, a key piece of industry guidance, which is the go-to document for any SuDS engineer.

Harvesting water from buildings

  • STRI and EPG can accurately model and predict volumes of water that can be collected from buildings, which can be easily collected and stored for later reuse
  • This solution can be ideal for small sports facilities that currently rely on mains water
  • Water collected can easily be incorporated into a small-scale irrigation system with the pump station preferentially using collected rainwater before mains water
  • In the example in
    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Figure 1, a small cricket club in London could potentially harvest nearly 270m3 a year from their clubhouse roof and 400m3 a year from the club car park. This could potentially reduce the club’s mains water requirements by 20-50%. The design of the storage tank is critical in these situations; in order to provide a cost effect solution, but to also be large enough to take advantage of large storm events

Harvesting water from whole sites

  • STRI and EPG can also produce much larger water models for whole sites. This allows us to predict:
    a) how much water falls across an whole site and when
    b) where this water ends up
    c) how much of this water can be transported and stored for later reuse
  • This detailed approach is very much cutting edge, with STRI and EPG optimising hydraulic models based on experience from other sectors and making them appropriate for sports turf situations
  • Key issues to consider include detailed analysis of site drainage systems, rootzone composition, = effect of vegetation on runoff and effect of climate change on future rainfall events
  • In the case study shown in Figure 2, STRI and EPG were able to accurately model the entire drainage network of an 18-hole golf course
Figure 3

Figure 3

  • It was found that an average volume of 3750m3 a month was potentially available for the club once local topographical issues, losses in ground infiltration and inherent water capture by
    vegetation were taken into account
  • With a current demand of 10,000m3 a month, water harvested from the course easily accommodates all the club’s irrigation demand, and also allows the club to seriously look into the addition of fairway irrigation
  • Runoff from the winter when demand is low can be stored to create a surplus of water for the summer when the irrigation demands are at their peak. Therefore, the club would require a reservoir largeenough to not only meet demand throughout the year but also to build up surpluses during the winter
  • The club is now looking into the concept in more detail, with STRI and EPG supporting with detailed designs, reservoir sizing and help with Environment Agency permission

Flood risk Assessments/ mitigating effects of flooding

  • In some situations, flooding of certain areas of buildings is problematic and STRI and EPG are required to design sites to accommodate water from elsewhere
  • EPG is very experienced in running detailed Flood Risk Assessments (FRA) for sites and then designing solutions if flooding is predicted
  • In Figure 3, a site was predicted to undergo serious flooding on a regular basis. EPG was able to mitigate against this by designing the site to accommodate water elsewhere. This was achieved by a simple depression across the site that could accommodate additional flood water (Figure 4)
Figure 4a & 4b

Figure 4a & 4b

Green/Blue roofs

  • The runoff from most new buildings needs to be slowed down in order to reduce the amount and speed of runoff from the building. This can be achieved via the use of rainwater storage tanks as shown in Figure 1. However, sometimes it is more appropriate to store the water on the roofs of buildings (for example in more built up areas or when excavation for tanks is expensive). This can also be combined with vegetation of a roof. Known as Blue (storage of water), Green (vegetation) or Blue-Green (water storage with vegetation) roofs, this method can really improve the look as well as environmental credentials of most buildings
  • In the example given in Figure 5, STRI and EPG were tasked with reducing the runoff from the roof of a new building, whilst storing the water for later reuse in irrigating large planters placed on the roof to provide screening for the building
  • The innovative design stored water across the entire roof level in a shallow modular tank (85mmdeep) which was located across the entire roof slab removing the need to have a large storage tank located in the development boundary. Each roof on the building is connected so once one tank is full, it cascades into the one below
Figure 5

Figure 5

  • Underneath the planters, subsurface irrigation ‘wicks’ were installed to passively wick water from the shallow storage area into the rootzone above. This provides sufficient water for the plants to survive, whilst reducing the need for potable water across the site
  • The design allowed the site engineers to save significant amounts of money by removing an entire large soakaway tank (50m x 4m x 2m)

These examples only demonstrate a small amount of the joint expertise that the two companies have now combined. If you are interested in any of the problem-solving methods discussed, please get in contact with Tom Young at tom.young@strigroup.com

Reproduced from the STRI Bulletin, September 2020, with thanks.

Golf’s ‘Sustainability Champions’ recognised

Golf’s ‘Sustainability Champions’ recognised: GEO Foundation has announced an exciting new initiative to recognise and celebrate individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to advancing sustainability in golf.

These ‘Sustainability Champions’ are honoured for their significant and measurable achievements in club and course management, and in the future, this will extend to course design, tournament staging and advocacy.

Golf’s ‘Sustainability Champions’ recognised

Jonathan Smith, Executive Director, GEO Foundation said: “Golf’s positive contributions to the environment and communities come from the commitments, actions and results generated by real people across the sport, around the world. It is their voluntary leadership that is helping deliver stronger and more sustainable businesses; changing the image of the game; and delivering even more value to society. This is our way of recognising and rewarding them, as individuals, and will hopefully inspire many others to step forward and follow suit.”

See the eligibility criteria and inaugural list of Sustainability Champions

One of the first Sustainability Champions is Richard Mullen, Course Manager at Banchory Golf Club. Richard said: “Always within our professional industry we try to create the best surfaces we can, we should not however create these surfaces to any detrimental measures. We must work day-to-day with a sustainable approach to ensure not just the future of our game but the environment we live in. No bigger reason to change the way we think.”

New individuals will always be welcomed as Sustainability Champions, as they meet the criteria, to create a recognisable, public listing of sustainable golf leaders around the world.

Steve Isaac, Director – Sustainability, The R&A said: “Addressing sustainability often requires behavioural change and investment in infrastructure. It takes courage for individuals at golf facilities to take the lead in promoting such activities to their managers and employers. Those that succeed have to be truly committed and persuasive. ‘Sustainability Champions’ recognises these individuals who not only follow their conscience and do what is right, but who take action that reflects favourably on the golf business and on the sport itself.”

Each Champion is provided with a recognition mark and supporting materials to represent their important roles in the workplace, on their CV and in their communities.

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Campey bring sustainability to BTME

Campey bring sustainability to BTME: Campey Turf Care Systems is bringing the 100% electric AllTrec Tool Carrier to BTME 2020 to introduce the future of zero CO2-emissions golf course maintenance.

The Tool Carrier will be in Red Hall North, Stand 276 along with other popular turf care machinery including Vredo Compact Seeders, Dakota Turf Tenders and the Air 2G2 Air Inject. The machine, designed by Dutch manufacturer, WeedControl B.V., is the latest in a long line of products that Campey has introduced to meet industry trends, and has already been exceptionally well received in The Netherlands.

Campey bring sustainability to BTME

The electrically driven hedge cutter can be fully operated using a joystick, making it easy to operate for a day of work, while the LPG tanks used for the E-Variator Weed Burner can be mounted to the back of the AllTrec, with a connection for the automatic tank heater to prevent them from freezing. Weeds can also be tackled using the Weedbrush, which can be hydraulically adjusted to any angle, and used for a full day without any worry of batteries running out.

A large-action radius and highly efficient attachments combined with low operation and maintenance costs make the AllTrec perfect for use in urban environments, sports complexes, holiday resorts and parks by contractors, local authorities and landscapers.

With its zero turning capabilities, it is agile enough to work in small enclosed spaces while also having been designed to work on large areas with a long-lasting battery to match its versatility. The running time is entirely dependent on the circumstances, but when cutting with the four-blade 180cm deck, the battery will typically last for 6-8 hours and 7-9 hours using the three-blade 130cm deck. Both decks feature rear ejection and allow height of cut adjustments from 30mm-110mm.

All batteries come with a three-year warranty and have a lifetime of + – 2500 charge discharge cycles. The 48VDC battery uses LifePO4 technology with a capacity of 20kwh or an optional 30kwh, with onboard charging taking 4-8 hours.

As always, Campey’s team of product specialists will be on hand to give advice on turf care issues and information on machinery over a coffee in Red Hall North, Stand 276.

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Sustainability And Pollution Prevention

Sustainability And Pollution Prevention: Much has been said over recent years about the merits of water recycling wash systems to prevent pollution and conserve water. Here Bill Whittingham reports on recent developments.

Having visited many golf and sports facilities I’ve learned and seen how machinery wash-off is handled. I’ve also heard the thoughts of those responsible for wash-off. It is quite clear that virtually all know of the legislation relating to pollution prevention and the fines that can be imposed; much of which is regularly regurgitated in the trade press. All those I met are also aware of the growing need for water conservation and many have taken action to address both matters. What is apparent, and somewhat surprising however, is that despite this knowledge and concern, there are many establishments still with wash-off facilities that are, quite frankly illegal, causing pollution and wasting vast quantities of water.

Sustainability And Pollution Prevention

The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 and The Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 were enshrined in law in 2009 (10 years ago!) and, more recently the EU Water Framework Directive has been implemented. (Incidentally, whether or not Brexit is achieved matters not, as the requirements have been made law in the UK). So why the complacency and inaction? The ideal way to achieve legislative compliance and save water is to install an approved water recycling system. (i.e. WTL certified). Despite the best endeavours of the leading manufacturers, such a system is not considered cheap and, apart from the water savings, does not contribute to “the bottom line”! So, some take the attitude that they’ll take their chances and hope they are not inspected. To my mind this is not sensible thinking. Articles have appeared in the golf / turf maintenance press reporting just that; a golf club being visited by the EA and told they suspected pollution from the club’s washpad. The club in question responded rapidly, recognising its environmental responsibilities, and installed a below ground washpad water recycling system, satisfying all requirements.

If cost is an issue, there are options offered by the main suppliers of recycling wash systems to help; Spreading payments, retro-fitting or, in the case of ClearWater, carrying out a self-install with each and every UK made system delivered new, direct to site from the factory. One company, not offering self-install, does offer above ground refurbished units however.

So, which way do you go; above ground or below ground? The choice is yours but there are distinct differences between, what most consider to be, the two leading contenders. Both do the same job: treat contaminated water by biological treatment producing clean recycled water. One system offers simple, effective engineering with few moving parts (less to go wrong!) and gravity feed to the system. The other system relies on more elaborate engineering and the pumping of washwater into the system.

Press coverage of late appears to have focused on an above ground system, so it seems only reasonable, to redress the balance and look at the merits of a below ground one. One point that is raised frequently and that some, including myself, have difficulty understanding is the statement regarding a certain above ground system: “…..you can see what’s going on” The inference supposedly being that below ground is not to be preferred. Now, unless I’ve been missing something for many years, I understood that, in the main, waste water treatment is carried out below ground and is in surely the safest location? How many separators, septic tanks and sewage plants do you see above ground? However, if you really want to see “what’s going on” you can in a ClearWater system; simply open the turret covers and take a look. You can actually witness exactly what’s going on; effective treatment!

So what advantages does this particular system have? Being below ground means that it is unobtrusive; away from prying eyes and vandalism. It is also safe being encased in concrete (no worries about leaks!) and operating at a temperature of 14.5 – 16.5 °C. This is important as a stable operating environment means that the unique micro-organisms perform better and also allays fears of Legionella and other harmful bacteria forming. (The threshold for Legionella to form and survive is stated as 20°C. Above ground systems can endure much higher internal temperatures than this in the sun!). Below ground means water flows into the system by gravity via a simple grass trap, so no complicated sumps, pumps and chutes. Valuable washpad space is not required either to site a ClearWater system and a key decision maker seems to be that it’s not unsightly but looks good; with just four modest green turret tops sited at ground level, that’s all anyone sees; impressive!

Self-install certainly does seem to be popular (over 70% of ClearWater’s customers take this cost-effective route). Full and detailed installation instructions are issued and I’ve seen some splendid installations that installers are justifiably proud of. Take a recent installation of a ClearWater system at Brookmans Park Golf Club for example. Asset & Equipment Manager Nick Billington, not happy with the above ground system and repeated maintenance issues, removed that system and used the concrete plinth to good effect; he installed his diesel tank on it and created a pollution prevention area! Installing the ClearWater system was easy and straightforward he says and further cost savings were made by modifications to the existing washpad. Nick is pleased with the team’s work and the ClearWater system.

Buying a washpad water recycling system is a worthwhile investment and will ensure that the costly kit you have invested in will be washed so much more effectively. (A ClearWater system would cost less than 20% of the price of a typical fairway mower by the way!) However, to ensure you spend wisely, do research the systems thoroughly, see them in action and talk to users. To help you to make comparisons and reach an informed decision, here are a few questions to ask prospective suppliers:

  1. Is what is being offered a WTL approved full biological system as not all washpad solutions actually recycle and/or have biological treatment? (Incidentally, a WTL approved system means tax savings on the ECA scheme!)
  2. What is the cost of the system and installation? (Is the system brand new or refurbished?)
  3. What is the water capacity? (The larger the capacity, the greater the time for treatment)
  4. How much is a year’s supply of micro-organisms and are they general purpose or designed to treat turf machinery wash water and capable of handling small grass clippings? (ClearWater’s micro-organisms are bespoke; designed specifically for the job)
  5. What time do I need to spend on daily / weekly maintenance and what are maintenance costs?
  6. Does the system have an oil warning alarm and an auto shut-off valve to prevent an oil spill contaminating already treated water?
  7. Are there separate pumps for each hose and is a proper trigger wash gun provided with each?
  8. What pressure do the water hose pumps produce?
  9. What moving parts are fitted that may need replacing? Is this something I can do or is an engineer’s visit necessary? (Swapping the small compressor and water pumps of a ClearWater system can be carried out by users in minutes, saving costly call out fees and down time!)
  10. Would the system be exposed to the elements and, if so, not be affected by high temperatures and UV rays?

So, below ground or above? The choice is yours; make it an informed one!

We all need to take our environmental responsibilities seriously and ensure sustainability. Preserving valuable water by recycling on the washpad and preventing groundwater pollution is one definite way we can contribute.

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Innovative Leadership In Sustainability Reporting By Golf

Innovative Leadership In Sustainability Reporting By Golf: GEO Foundation, supported by multiple partners and stakeholders, has announced the development of a new and ground-breaking framework for golf’s social and environmental reporting – this news was shared in front of an audience of global sustainability systems, government agencies, non-government organisations, corporations and other institutions.

The announcement represents a significant watershed in how the sport can quantifiably and consistently track and demonstrate its progress and value.

Innovative Leadership In Sustainability Reporting By Golf

The Independent Chair of the project’s Strategic Advisory Group is Paul Druckman, former CEO of the International Integrated Reporting Council. Druckman said: “Golf is a large and influential sport, comprising over 34,000 grassroots facilities in over 200 countries, hundreds of professional tournaments and with a significant supply chain. It also has powerful media and reach, and can inspire hundreds of thousands of fans.

“Golf is not unique amongst business to increasingly recognise the need to consistently measure and communicate with credibility its environmental and social impact. Through this work, golf is also gearing up to show how the sport delivers against global priorities, principally the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’’.

Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of GEO Foundation, the international not-for-profit dedicated to helping advance sustainability in and through golf, added: “The goal is to enable golf to accurately monitor, measure and communicate real impacts, and to connect that locally, nationally and internationally. It has been a complex but enjoyable challenge – studying, collaborating, developing a deep understanding of the priority metrics, mapping audiences and building user-centric software to simplify data gathering at scale.

The project began a year ago after discussion hosted by the Vidauban Foundation and the response from golf associations, as well as externally, has been tremendous. We’d particularly like to thank strategic partners: The R&A, Vidauban Foundation, Toro Foundation, and the ISEAL Innovations Fund, plus over 150 scientists, association leaders and grassroots golf course and club managers – who contributed to the various consultations.”

The framework is designed to help golf more consistently quantify and communicate its ‘net impact’ across golf’s ‘Sustainability Agenda’. As such it covers the material environmental and social issues across three main themes: fostering nature, conserving resources and supporting communities.

To ensure credibility and connectivity, the framework aligns closely with mainstream sustainability goals and reporting systems and is underpinned by the core principles of inclusiveness, materiality, reliability and context. It will be available in the coming months.

With both golf’s voluntary standards and the new metrics fully integrated into OnCourse, the software solution used to engage golf facilities, tournaments and associations; the next phase is to work closely with partners to roll-out, engage and drive active participation. OnCourse is currently used in 76 countries around the world and is available in nine languages.

“We look forward to working with many partners across golf to roll-out the framework and the software, empowering them, their golf facilities and their tournaments to drive individual performance and at the same time pool real data and stories from thousands of sources. This will support the strengthening advocacy and policies of a growing number of international and national associations,” Smith added.

Initial support for the project

Patrick Mallet, Director of Innovations, ISEAL Alliance: “Anyone who’s serious about sustainability knows that the ability to measure performance and impacts is key.  What we like about GEO’s approach is that here we have an example of a sector that is seeking to become more transparent, and shortening the distance between commitments, actions and communicable outcomes.  Building a framework and associated software for issues as complex as these, and for small and medium-sized enterprises like sports clubs is no mean feat and we congratulate everyone involved for their commitment and their creativity.”

Steve Isaac, Director of Sustainability, The R&A: “The R&A has long advocated the value of golf building a robust database of key performance indicators to measure and report on golf’s sustainability performance locally, nationally and internationally. Our support of the GEO Foundation and this project, in particular, should help golf understand its current performance, identify priority areas for improvement, enhance the sport’s image and help the sport become more resilient to the many environmentally and socially driven challenges we face related to the changing climate, regulation or resource constraints. We are extremely pleased to see this initial milestone achieved and look forward to further collaboration with GEO and our affiliates around the world to engage grassroots clubs in the gathering, analysis and communication of data back across the sport of golf and to external audiences.”

Antony Scanlon, Chief Executive of the International Golf Federation: “This is a really exciting project and one that we can see is at the forefront of the Olympic sustainability movement. It is good to see golf sharing knowledge and experiences with other sports and throughout the Olympic family, as we all work together to make sport as sustainable as possible.”

Judson McNeil, President, Toro Foundation, Toro Giving and Community Relations at The Toro Company: “Every sector’s use of critical natural resources such as water is under scrutiny. We have to be able to account for every drop and show how we are maximising efficiency. That can only happen with data, which is expertly analysed. That is why the Toro Company has supported GEO Foundation in their endeavours over many years and why we will continue to lend our support and expertise in the future.”

Julie Duffus, Olympic Movement Sustainability Manager, International Olympic Committee: “This framework is excellent news for golf, the Olympic Movement and global sustainability. As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC looks forward to engaging further on this exciting initiative and supporting its implementation. We hope that GEO’s leadership will inspire others to adopt such a systematic and holistic approach to sustainability.”

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