CO₂ footprint: GC Neuhof calculates emissions

In Germany, the Golf-Club Neuhof has been a pioneer in dealing with the CO₂ balance of its golf course. “For me, this is actually the new mega-topic, after we have already achieved a lot in terms of biodiversity in our club,” explains President Dr. Andreas Seum the motives for dealing with the topic. For him it is clear that “in the future, the carbon footprint will play an increasingly important role in the overall presentation of the club for club members, the acquisition of new members and in approval processes.”

The Golf-Club Neuhof commissioned a report based on the “Greenhouse Gas Protocol” of the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Washington. The annual CO₂ binding by the golf course was examined in different units (Scope 1 to 3) on the one hand, and their CO₂ emissions for the year 2020/2021 on the other.

Negative balance of around 170 tons of CO₂

The result surprised those responsible for the club: “I would have expected a positive CO₂ balance given the area and the trees,” sums up Seum.

In total, the Neuhof Golf Club caused 410.7 tons of CO₂ emissions in 2020, with the report deducting 240 tons of CO₂ compensation from the growing stock of trees newly planted at the golf course. In the end, there is a minus of 169.60 tons of CO₂, which would have to be reduced or offset in order to achieve a zero balance or CO 2 neutrality on the basis of the report. Not only the trips of the team players were included, but also the mileage of golfers and guests, as well as greenkeeping and employees. The members’ trips to the club and home alone added up to 426,000 kilometers, 76.9 tons of CO₂ emissions and thus 18.7 percent of the total.

Heating and mobility are tricky

An existing electric filling station already contributes to the reduction of CO 2 emissions. With a significant increase in electric mobility, this effect will increase significantly in the future, since 92% of club members live within a radius of 15 km. In this way, this aspect of CO 2 emissions is already being addressed.

Another tricky point that the golf course can directly influence more than when it comes to getting there is the heating. “With 67 tons of CO₂ for heating and 60 tons of CO₂ for electricity, energy consumption accounts for a high proportion of CO 2 emissions,” explains Seum. “The focus here is now on replacing the existing oil heating system.”

A well-intentioned intention, which in practice turns out to be relatively complicated to implement. The club building in Neuhof consists mainly of a historic sheep pen, which is a listed building. Switching to heat pumps makes no sense, if only because of the building’s inadequate insulation. However, the planned pellet heating system is to be viewed critically due to the high levels of particulate matter. The solution to the hotspot question is therefore not really in sight. The installation of a photovoltaic system on the roof of a machine hall is also being considered.

Topic more complicated than expected

In general, as part of his discussion, Seum found that the topic is tricky in many respects: “I now know the difference between black and green CO₂ and have dealt with things like CO₂ compensation through humus formation on the system, which will certainly be relevant for decades but is in the millimetre range on an annual basis.”

He is still convinced that the issue of carbon footprints is the topic of the future and dealing with it at an early stage is important. It now influences management decisions at the Neuhof Golf Club. In the meantime, the President has also presented the CO₂ calculation at a roundtable discussion of the Golf Management Association Germany. The presentation is posted here for your information.