SustainAbility Newsletter

Colorado Golf Carbon Project

Applewood Golf CourseColorado has 248 golf facilities comprising more than 20,000 acres of highly managed land and an economic impact in Colorado of $1.2 billion dollars per year. The first of its kind research has been done and published from Colorado State University and the USDA/Agricultural Research Service in Colorado documenting the sequestration of carbon in measurable amounts at Colorado golf facilities. Preliminary assessments of golf facility emissions of CO2 or Carbon Footprint have been done at Cornell University.

The purpose of the project is to determine the carbon footprint of Colorado’s golf facilities annually. To do this, the carbon sequestered from all sources and the carbon emitted from all sources on an annual basis at Colorado’s golf facilities will be ascertained. These results will be published in an academic, high quality, peer-reviewed journal. The documented sequestered carbon will be used to create marketable offsets as a self-sustaining funding mechanism for this and future projects to improve conservation and environmental stewardship at Colorado’s golf facilities. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate the eco-system value of the carbon sequestered at the facilities, and mobilize that into dollars through the creation of carbon credits to be invested in research and environmental stewardship for golf facilities in Colorado, and to demonstrate that that business model works.  The money will distributed to the Rocky Mountain Golf Course Superintendents Association, who intends to invest the money into Colorado State University, in cooperation with the USDA/ARS for the project to determine the carbon footprint, both sequestration and emissions, of golf courses in Colorado.  We hope that others will participate including all of the companies that earn a part of their living through golf, such as the travel industry, equipment suppliers (both golf equipment and golf maintenance equipment), clothing suppliers, television networks, print media, fertilizer, as well as the environmental movement. 

At present Colorado’s golf organizations have endorsed the project, and Dr. Ron Follett of the USDA/ARS and Drs. Yaling Qian and Tony Koski of Colorado State have begun working on their portions of the project. The present number of facilities signed up is 5, with more on the way.  There are currently more than 1,000 acres assigned. The initial outreach was made to Audubon International-affiliated golf courses of which there were 44 and the next group of 40 invitations is ready to go out. Applewood Golf Course and Breckenridge Golf Club were the first 2 courses to enroll in the Carbon Sequestration Program.

Joe McCleary Superintendent of Saddle Rock Golf Course, Yaling Qian and Tony Koski of Colorado State University,  Ron Follett of the US Department of Agriculture, Mike Kenna of the United States Golf Association and Ron Dodson of the International Sustainability Council and President of Audubon International has been instrumental in the launching of the project.

Audubon Lifestyles became a supporter of the Colorado Golf Project in fall of 2009, and recognize the actions of taken place .  Participants of the Colorado Golf Project have earned the option to earn credit towards their total score during the audit portion of the Audubon Lifestyles Sustainable Golf Facility Program. Crispin Porter + Bogusky will publicize the good work of the project to gain further support and recognition for the effort.  



References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles

The International Sustainability Council  

The Reserve at Lake Keowee

The Old Collier Club

The Rim Golf Club




Energy Star 

The Village of Blume 

Taylor Properties Group  


National Geographic 

American Society of Golf Course Architects

The United States Golf Association (USGA)


SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Higher Oil Costs Could Speed Up the Use of New Green Materials in Fords

Ford Focus

Rising oil prices have Ford upping the ante in its push to reduce petroleum dependence and use more sustainable materials – including retired U.S. paper currency – to make parts.      

A wide range of alternatives to products now made with petroleum are under review for potential application in Ford vehicles – from shredded retired currency to cellulose from trees, Indian grass, sugar cane, dandelions, corn and coconuts.

"Ford has a long history of developing green technologies because it’s the right thing to do from an environmental perspective,” said John Viera, Ford’s global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental matters. “Now, finding alternative sources for materials is becoming imperative as petroleum prices continue to rise and traditional, less sustainable materials become more expensive.
“The potential to reuse some of the country’s paper currency once it has been taken out of circulation is a great example of the kind of research we are doing,” Viera added.
In the early 2000s, when Ford started heavily researching sustainable materials, petroleum was readily available and relatively cheap; a barrel of oil was $16.65. Earlier this year, a barrel hit a high of $109.77.
Adding to the appeal of the new potential resources is that they are so plentiful. For example, 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of retired paper currency are shredded daily – more than 3.6 million pounds annually. The shredded money is either compressed into bricks and landfilled, or burned.
New sustainable materials that can meet Ford’s stringent requirements and testing could join a growing list of alternatives to petroleum-based materials already in use.
Ford’s use of soybean-based cushions in all of its North American vehicles including the all-new Fusion, for example, saves approximately 5 million pounds of petroleum annually. The all-new Escape has door bolsters partially made of kenaf – a tropical plant in the cotton family – offsetting the use of 300,000 pounds of oil-based resin per year in North America.
It’s just a start.
Pie-in-the-sky no more
“Building vehicles with great fuel economy is our highest priority in reducing our environmental impact,” said Carrie Majeske, Ford’s Product Sustainability manager. “We recognize the use of sustainable materials inside our cars, utilities and trucks can also help reduce our environmental impact. These are steps that are not only better for our planet in the long run but are cost-effective as well.”
Ford has concentrated on increasing the use of non-metal recycled and bio-based materials to reduce its dependence on petroleum products. Examples include:

  • The new Fusion contains the equivalent of slightly more than two pairs of average-sized American blue jeans as sound-dampening material to help eliminate unwanted road, wind and powertrain noise
  • Kenaf is used in the door bolsters of Escape
  • Ten pounds of scrap cotton from blue jeans, T-shirts, sweaters and other items go in to the Escape’s dashboard
  • The equivalent of 25 recycled 20-ounce plastic bottles helps make the Escape’s carpet
  • Focus Electric uses a wood-fiber-based material in its doors and recycled plastic bottles in its seat fabric
  • Flex has wheat straw in its plastic bins
  • Taurus SHO uses a micro denier suede made from 100 percent recycled yarns

These days the phones are ringing off the hook for Ford’s sustainability research team. As the business case for using sustainable materials strengthens, interest is growing in the potential of some unexpected and interesting sources, including the shredded paper money and coconut fibers. Ideas once considered pie-in-the-sky now merit serious consideration.

“We have been working with an ever-increasing list of collaborators – chemical companies, universities, suppliers and others – to maximize efforts and develop as many robust, sustainable materials as possible for the 300 pounds of plastic on an average vehicle,” said Dr. Debbie Mielewski, technical leader of Ford’s Materials Research and Innovation team.
That leaves sustainable materials like shredded money being tested to determine how well they perform under certain conditions. Researchers can then recommend potential use. Shredded money, for example, is being considered for interior trays and bins, said Mielewski.
There is no guarantee any or all of these sustainable materials will end up in Ford cars and trucks, she added. But Mielewski is excited about how much more attention and support her team – and the whole subject of sustainable materials – is receiving.
Ugly bean – pretty useful
“When we first started talking about this stuff 10 years ago, it was mainly automotive and trade magazines showing interest in our research,” said Mielewski. “Now it seems to be everywhere. We are working on very exciting research and it will be interesting to see what comes next and how fast.”
Soybeans could be considered the root of Ford’s effort to use more sustainable materials, which lower environmental impact while providing a performance equivalent to the materials they are replacing.
Henry Ford first experimented with soybeans in the early part of the last century, but the current soybean project began 10 years ago when a group of farmers approached Ford seeking new uses for the abundant soybean crop in the U.S. Midwest.
Ford researchers challenged themselves to develop soybean-based foams that met every performance and durability requirement. They chose to use the material in seat cushions because they account for two-thirds of the foam (or about 25 pounds) used in a single vehicle.
“We had to come up with a product that performed as well as or better than the products we had been using for decades,” said Mielewski.
Early versions of the soybean cushion were fraught with problems – from strong odor to falling short of Ford’s stringent quality standards. Labs full of the failed attempts still exist on Ford’s Dearborn campus.
“Because Ford has such high standards, it took a long time,” said Mielewski. “But after five years, we were finally able to meet every single requirement – compression, durability, everything.”
Still, in the early 2000s the fact remained: Petroleum and plastic were inexpensive, and it was just too costly to change the way things had been done for about 100 years. The lack of urgency at the time became an advantage, said Mielewski.
“We were left alone to get creative, take our time and figure out where and how these – and future – sustainable materials might fit into our vehicles and processes, and that’s great news for both our customers and the environment,” said Mielewski.




References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon Lifestyles 
The International Sustainability Council 

Sustainability Campaign

Ford Motor Company

Urbana University

Defenders of Wildlife

The Earthday Network

Bloomberg Businessweek

Small Busienss Trends

The Dodson Group      

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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