Yale’s Golf Course has just completed a series of renovations to its irrigation and lighting systems that have produced a considerably more environmentally-conscious playing area. The renovations, which began in March 2011 and cost slightly under $200,000, include substantial changes to the lighting of the course, the irrigation system, and the pump house that supplies the water for the course.
The team behind the Golf Course renovations initially targeted the Yale Sustainability Microloan Fund as its financial backer. According to the Sustainability Microloan site, the fund offers loans between $500 and $25,000 for projects, “that will improve the University’s environmental performance and generate real cost savings.” The Sustainability Microloan Fund aims to demonstrate that environmentally-conscious decisions often result in long term financial benefits. Due to financial restraints of the fund, the team working on the renovations received its funding from Yale’s Endowment, which increased over 20 percent during the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The renovation process began in earnest with changes to the pump house which supplies the 200,000 gallons of water used daily to irrigate the course. The renovations in the pump house involved diversifying the course’s water sources to include both pond water and purchased water. With the pump house successfully altered, renovations to the irrigation system and the lighting of the course could begin. In renovating the irrigation system, officials at the golf course focused on modifying the irrigation nozzles, leading to a decrease of roughly 20 percent in water usage. In-ground wireless soil moisture sensors and a lightning protection system were also installed to conserve the amount of water utiziled at the course. The lighting of the golf course also underwent a sustainable and financially-sensible change by transitioning to compact fluorescent lights, which operate more efficiently than their predecessors. As mentioned earlier, these sustainable changes to the golf course cost nearly $200,000, but, the staff of the Yale Golf Course predicts that these changes will pay for themselves within four years.
However, Yale Golf Course’s sustainability efforts will not stop here. The staff at the golf course view these renovations as a stepping stone to make the course even more sustainable. The staff plans to designate one of its members to focus on conservation at the golf course. The course is also pursuing certification from Audubon International, the premier environmental evaluation program for golf courses.