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Every golf club, large or small, is effectively like any business or household. It uses fuel, power and water and generates waste, all of which has to be paid for. So the first, obvious question is to find out how much you are spending at present. That is a starting point for going on to identify possible energy saving opportunities. But it is not simply a matter of doing a few one-off improvements. The best results come from organising a proper action plan, one which can prioritise the most effective measures and allows for effective control and monitoring. To make this work properly you will need someone to be responsible for making it happen.

The following basic steps offer a good approach to tackling energy efficiency and provide the necessary framework to enable you to take full advantage of the practical measures proposed in Chapter 4.

1. Decide who will be responsible
To ensure things get done, there needs to be an ‘energy champion’ within the club. This need not be an onerous task and it is by no means a full-time job, but it is important to have someone to act as the club’s ‘eyes and ears’ for energy wastage.

In a typical golf club the ‘energy champion’, either an employee or a member, should focus on the clubhouse and related buildings. Golf course and maintenance facility aspects are the responsibility of the Head Greenkeeper, who may decide to nominate a ‘golf course energy champion’ from among the greenstaff. In such situations, there should be close liaison between the two energy champions, forming an ’Energy Action Team’, to ensure a uniform approach to energy conservation throughout the golf club.

The duties of the energy champions should include:

  • noting examples of energy wastage
  • reading meters and checking fuel bills
  • encouraging others to use energy more efficiently
  • regularly reporting findings back to senior club management

2. Establish the facts
How much energy are you using? To find out you need to collate invoices for electricity, gas, heating oils and/or coal, as well as all fuel bills for vehicles and golf course maintenance equipment, and water and sewerage bills. Do not just check the cost, look also at the metered usage. For past periods you will have to rely on reported meter readings on invoices, but from now on also do your own meter readings.

Ideally, records for the last three years should be compiled, so you have a view on whether usage and costs are stable or changing. Key things to look out for are:

  • any signs of exceptional consumption
  • whether you are paying for the amounts of fuel/power you actually use
  • how costs are changing over the years
  • seasonal patterns to energy consumption

3. Compare your performance
Once you have calculated your absolute costs, it is useful to do some comparisons, both internally and with other, similar golf clubs - such data may be scarce at first but as more clubs engage in energy efficiency projects, there will be more information available (always check with the Scottish Golf Environment Group for up to date news). Or you can benchmark against data for a range of building types published by the Scottish Energy Efficiency Office.

Internal comparisons may be year on year, seasonal or between activity centres: e.g. which is the main energy consumer within the club – the club house, or golf course maintenance? Such information can help set priorities and targets for improvement.

4. Plan and organise
The first step in planning is the development of an energy policy statement. This is important because it means the club’s decision makers are consciously committed to the initiative, and the policy is a valuable tool for raising awareness among staff, members and visitors. It will also provide continuity of purpose as personnel and committee members come and go.
The policy statement should provide a basic reasoning for why the club is carrying out an energy efficiency programme, and it should highlight the main objectives together with performance targets to meet these objectives.

Having defined the policy, the next step should be to draw up an action plan. This should cover the various component areas of the golf club (clubhouse, pro-shop, golf course…) and the specific energy areas (electrical, boilers, heating, lighting…). The action plan will need to identify tasks to be undertaken, their frequency, how they should be recorded and reported, and by whom.

Defining policy, setting objectives, involving members and staff, and assigning responsibilities are the core components.

5. Pay less for your energy
Before even looking for energy conservation measures, it is worth checking whether you are paying the best price for the energy you do use. The simple exercise of reviewing your energy bills can produce some surprising results, as some golf clubs have already discovered to their benefit. Understanding the range of tariffs and providers, and deciding what is best for you may take some effort. Some clubs have found it useful to call in an energy consultant to help them through this process.

It may also be possible to maximise use of cheaper night-time electricity units and to minimise use of winter peak-rate units. This is especially important for golf clubs which tend to be much less active during winter.

6. Use less energy
Using less does not mean doing less – the goal here is to eliminate waste. A good start would be to conduct an ‘energy walk-round’. This should involve key members of staff and club officials, both to help identify problems and opportunities, and to ensure they feel part of the process.
Conducting a walk-round is simple; just walk round your premises and note down what equipment is being used, how it is being used, and where. There is a wide range of areas of opportunity to look out for including lighting (indoors and outside), boiler rooms, offices, function rooms, kitchens, bar, cellar, locker rooms, pro-shop, store rooms. Include also the maintenance compound and irrigation pump house if you have one.

It is sensible to conduct a number of such walk-rounds at different times: e.g. during normal opening hours, when the cleaners are on duty and at off-peak times when the golf course is either little used, or unused. By doing a series of such inspections, you will gain a much better insight into how energy is being used and where the principal areas of waste are occurring.

To help begin to prioritise energy conservation actions, it would be best to place the findings of the walk-rounds into simple categories:

  • where energy is being wasted through;
    • lack of awareness/missed opportunities
    • procedures being ignored
  • where repair or maintenance work is needed to reduce energy costs
  • where there is a need for capital investment to improve energy efficiency;
    • structural work to upgrade insulation, double glazing
    • replacement boilers and heating system
    • investment in renewable energy sources

A comprehensive list of practical measures to implement is given in chapter 4. These will give a useful guide to help you adopt the best approach for your circumstances. It is up to each club to decide how it wants to proceed and how many measures it wants to implement. Each situation will be different. There is no definitive menu for achieving energy efficiency but generally speaking, the more you do, the greater the amount of savings and other benefits you will realise.

It is wise to build up your energy efficiency programme, rather than trying to do too much all at once. Look for ‘early-wins’, simple, no-cost or low cost achievable actions that can be implemented straight away. These will offer a good platform for future initiatives and give the club membership and management confidence in the programme.

7. Control and monitor
Energy consumption is a continuous process. Likewise, energy conservation has to be treated as an on-going policy. It is not a one-off exercise. The goal should be continual improvement.

The best way to achieve such continuity of purpose is to have an effective recording and monitoring system. Large golf and leisure complexes – e.g. Gleneagles – may take energy efficiency so seriously that they have full time energy managers and a computerised Building Management System, enabling precise control over all heating, water, ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting.

Such sophistication is beyond the means of ordinary golf clubs but the principles are just as valid. It is essential to keep a regular check on energy consumption and bills so that you can see whether your energy efficiency measures are having any effect. If there are any sudden blips or surges in the normal pattern of energy consumption, you will be able to identify the cause and remedy it as necessary.

Another benefit from having a vigilant eye on energy consumption, is that you will be able to identify and/or keep abreast with further cost saving opportunities – e.g. tariff changes and other incentive schemes.

It does necessarily involve some extra paperwork but it is worth it. If a couple of dozen members decided not to bother paying their annual subscription, you would hopefully notice they were overdue and do something about it. So why waste the equivalent amount of money on not tightening up your energy costs?






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