Monday, August 10, 2009

The Fair Way

We SRI types are an earnest bunch. We worry about things like ‘is it ok to play golf?’ Those of you who read the entertainment section as well as the business section will know that Justin Timberlake recently opened an eco friendly golf course. The Mirimichi Golf Course just outside of Memphis, Tennessee features irrigation systems that maximize the use of rainwater, native landscaping and electric golf carts powered by solar panels. The buildings have been constructed with a goal of attaining Platinum LEED Certification, the first golf course to do so.

The Mirimichi is also the first golf course in the US to be designated as an Audubon International Classic Sanctuary. Audubon International works with developers to integrate wildlife conservation, habitat restoration and enhancement, water conservation and water quality protection, with the other objectives for the development. Their long-term goal is to “foster a stewardship ethic that leads landowners and managers, consultants, and the community to internalize environmental, rather than just economic, costs and benefits in their decision making and to apply those environmental values routinely in land management.”

Many people feel that eco friendly and golf are inherently contradictory. However, given the impact that golf courses have on their immediate environment, any initiatives, particularly in reducing water use and restricting pesticides by naturalizing the courses, must be welcomed. In the spirit of SRI, we recognize that if golf courses, like corporations, aren’t going to go away, we might as well get involved in improving them.

An article in the New York Times last week, ‘Thirsty Golf Courses as Model for Water Thrift’, has this to say “Since he took charge of the two courses in 2005, Mr. Williams has cut water consumption by 45%, he said, and witnessed the return of some wildlife species like the red tailed hawk. The changes have come with a price, like the occasional large brown spot on the fairway. But Mr. Williams says the golfers do not mind. ‘I just stand out there on the greens and explain, we are doing this so your grandchildren can come out here and play, ‘he said ‘People understand that.’.”

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