Going green and becoming eco-friendly may seem like a popular trend that’s easy to dismiss, but for us, at Wycliffe, it’s become a way of life. Data shows that 1/3 of customers (our members) prefer working with environmentally-friendly brands, which is why we embrace sustainability. This also applies to younger workforces and the new generation of talent we are all competing to recruit into our industry.
To keep it simple, sustainability is about operating your club without negatively impacting the environment, the community, or society. It’s about reducing waste, using less energy, and being innovative.
It’s not as simple as saying we are using LED lightbulbs (an excellent first step). It’s a lifestyle with numerous benefits like lower operating expenses, increased productivity, and an improved brand image.
The idea first appealed to me several years ago when Fortune 500 companies like Google and Delta began reducing their carbon footprint. Of course, we are nowhere near their size, but I knew there were small things we could contribute to helping our planet.
We began our journey with Vivid Leaf, a company whose sole focus is to help private clubs and resorts become resilient and sustainable. I met the COO Till von Ruexleben at the Distinguished Ideas Summit hosted by John Fornaro and Boardroom Magazine.
The first step was a detailed tour of our property, a complete in-depth analysis, and a sustainability report card. The data showed where we were and how we could improve. Thankfully the preliminary report was not too bad, but we still had a long way to go and ideas to implement.
- It started with styrofoam. Styrofoam is not biodegradable and takes up a lot of space at landfills which adds to the pollution problem. We, of course, like many clubs, were using it for cups, to-go containers, and more. We eliminated all of it and switched to recycled products.
- Paper accounts for about ¼ of the waste at landfills and causes significant damage to the environment because of deforestation. That led us to focus on technology and switch to digital tablets. Instead of writing down an order at one of our dining venues, servers type it right into the tablet, which goes directly to the screen in the kitchen. This improves efficiency, cuts down on mistakes, and saves us a great deal of money. We also implemented digital fast passes for gate entry into the community, an idea I picked up from Matt Lambert at Mirasol.
- We switched to lithium battery golf carts that are much lighter than the old-fashioned electric carts. They cause less compaction on the turf and only need to be charged at off-peak hours reducing electric costs.
- Next, we created a buzz by installing four beehives. Honey bees support the growth of trees, flowers, and other plants and play an integral part in the overall ecosystem, and pure honey is absolutely delicious.
- We have four hives on property that yield about 100 pounds of honey per harvest (four harvests per year). Last week, we jarred the honey and gave it away to members for the Jewish Holiday of Rosh Hashanah. We will also use it for cooking, spa products, ice cream, and signature cocktails.
We value our partnership with Vivid Leaf and constantly review our dashboard, which supplies real-time data and allows us to collaborate with like-minded learners to share innovative ideas.
Rob Martin, CCM, CCE, CAM
General Manager/COO at Wycliffe Golf & Country Club