By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at Diamond Country Club
Since 2012, the Lyoness Open has set the benchmark for ecologically viable golf events with the help of presenting sponsor, the Greenfinity Foundation and, as European Tour professional Oliver Fisher found out, this week promises to be greener than ever.
With the Diamond Country Club, a European Tour Destination located just outside the Austrian capital of Vienna, all set to host the country’s national Open for a sixth successive year, this week’s tournament will be the fourth since Greenfinity came on board with the ambitious aim of reducing the tournament’s ecological footprint, driven by its vehement commitment to sustainability in golf.
But what is the definition of an ‘ecological footprint’?
In short, the terms refers to a measurement of sustainability developed by scientists in 1994 as an indicator of how many hectares of productive land our planet has to provide in order to supply resources for an individual person, company, country, or – as in this case – event, plus the resources necessary for absorbing and recycling the associated waste.
This tournament is a benchmark for others in an environmental sense.
Aligned with the Greenfinity company motto ‘Together for our world, a future together’, the 2014 Lyoness Open again showcased impressive results with the ecological footprint per person reduced by almost 40 per cent compared to 2012.
Indeed, the performance earned Greenfinity widespread acclaim and an invitation to the Green Events Austria Gala for sustainable and ecoconscious culture and sports events.
This week, visitors and golfers alike have the opportunity to determine the ecological footprint of their flight or travel to the event using Greenfinity’s footprint calculator.
Moreover, the professionals contending have the option to compensate their flight’s environmental impact by donating to reforestation projects.
One of those players doing just that is former European Tour winner Fisher and the Englishman clearly recognises the importance of greening golf.
“As a European Tour player we fly a lot – probably upwards of 60 flights per year – so we are aware we probably have a bigger carbon footprint than most,” said Fisher.
“For this event, we just worked out my flight from London to Vienna was a journey of 2,470km which produced a footprint of around 130m². To offset that, we need to reforest an area of 0.3m² at a cost of little more than €8 so it’s not much to ask really.
“What the Lyoness Open is doing with Greenfinity, and along with the European Tour Green Drive, is great and definitely a step in the right direction and making us all more aware of our impact and how we might be able to give a little back to the environment.
“This tournament is a benchmark for others in that sense, probably the best on our schedule, and the work they do is great. Every little detail helps, for example staying in the excellent hotel on site and therefore avoiding any extra travel, or instead of having just one bin on the tee we have two – a yellow and a green – so it’s clear to see the Lyoness Open is doing all the right things.”
In addition to the player carbon offsetting available, the tournament has implemented a number of other measures designed to ecologically improve the Lyoness Open.
E-cars are being used all week for the shuttle services while the event bus – known as the SportBus – is ferrying visitors from Graz, Salzburg and Vienna to the Lyoness Open in a bid to reduce emissions from solo travellers.
For fans that do travel to the event in their car, €1 per parking ticket is being donated to the project ‘Generationenwald’ (generations’ forest) in Purkersdorf.
Elsewhere, a greater emphasis is being placed on use of the local power grid as opposed to diesel generators, the catering facilities are stocked full of local and regional produce, there is no air conditioning and improvements have been made to the waste management approach including the availability of reusable dishes, biodegradable materials and enhanced waste separation.
Fredrik Lindgren, Head of Corporate Responsibility for The European Tour, said: “This is a subject that we as a company take very seriously indeed.
“We are conscious of our impact on the environment and actually donate €100,000 per year – as part of our Green Drive in a bid to offset the travel undertaken by European Tour employees to our events.
“Along with the fantastic work Greenfinity are doing at this event and on The European Tour in general, we are also encouraging players to also get involved wherever possible.”
The Green Drive, which promotes sustainable events and host venues across The European Tour, was spawned as a result of The Ryder Cup Green Drive which started with The 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama in Spain.
The European Tour Green Drive’s delivery partner is the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO), the international non-profit dedicated entirely to providing a credible and accessible system of sustainability standards, support programs, recognition, and capacity building for the golf industry.
This is a subject that The European Tour takes very seriously indeed.
A founding Partner of The European Tour Green Drive, and a long standing supporter of the GEO, Greenfinity is undoubtedly leading the way for green golf events in Europe and on The European Tour.