16 facilities now certified in new STMA environmental program

“The STMA Environmental Certification Program is a cornerstone program for our association because it delves deep in to the core of what we as sports turf managers represent. We share the ultimate responsibility to be great stewards of our environment, all the while producing safe athletic surfaces around the world. This Environmental Certification program provides a platform for sports turf managers and their respective facilities to be recognized for the great sustainably work that they do each and every day.”-Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, Town of Cary, NC and STMA Board member

As of mid-April 16 facilities have achieved environmental facility certification. They are:

  • Peter Ashe, CSFM, University of North Carolina Greensboro, NC
  • Paul Burgess, CSFM, (2) Ciudad REAL Madrid and Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – REAL Madrid, Spain
  • John Cogdill, Boulder Parks & Rec, CO
  • Ken Edwards, CSFM/Keair Edwards, The Gulfport Sportsplex, MS
  • Edward Hall, Allen Pond Park, MD
  • Israel Hinojosa, Minute Maid Park, TX
  • Zack Holm & Team, (2) Red Bull Arena and Red Bull Training Facility, NY
  • Elliott Josephson, Prairie Ridge Sports Complex, IA
  • Jason Koester, CGCS, Grinnell College Athletic Fields, IA
  • Abby McNeal, CSFM, Ruby Hill Park, CO
  • Travis Stephen, Longfellow Park, IL
  • Scott Stevens, CSFM, Elon University, NC
  • Bruce Suddeth, USC Upstate Soccer Complex, SC
  • Brian Winka, CSFM, Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex, MO

The benefits of becoming certified include:

  • Validates your environmental stewardship efforts and creates awareness with your peers, employer, field users, fans and the community at large
  • Establishes your facility as a leader in environmental stewardship
  • Documents stewardship that can help your chapter counter proposed local environmental regulations
  • Provides continuing education resources to sports field managers on environmental best management practices

We contacted some turf managers whose facilities recently earned certification. John Cogdill, Boulder Parks & Rec, CO; Abby McNeal, CSFM, Ruby Hill Park, CO; Bruce Suddeth, USC Upstate Soccer Complex, SC; and Scott Stevens, CSFM, Elon University, NC replied to a few questions about getting certified.

Why did you want to be part of this new program?

Cogdill: The City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department has always been committed to environmental safety and clean water initiatives. Many of our staff members are already CDOT certified in storm water prevention. Our customers and by that I mean the public, is our most important asset.

Anything that we can do to protect them from exposure to environmental hazards is something that we are always striving to accomplish.

McNeal: I wanted to apply for the Environmental Certification because of the history of the park/facility as well as to help highlight to changes that we have done to our shop space that were long overdue. Ruby Hill Park is built on an old landfill and has a known contaminated soils. We have a soils management plan that we have to adhere to which requires us to have notify the Department of Environmental Health as well as the state of Colorado Health Department if we need to perform any soil disrupting activities just in one area of the park. If it is more the aerification or minor irrigation work we also need to arrange for an Asbestos contractor to be on site to monitor the area of disruption. The shop space also need a major cleaning of products that were no longer needed and should have been properly disposed of years ago.

Suddeth: When we knew the Environmental Certification criteria was going live our team was excited to be a part of it. USC Upstate has always taken pride in doing the environmentally responsible approach to turf management. The University as a whole has been involved with several programs such as Audubon Society, Arbor Day Foundation, Tree Campus USA, and our own Watershed Ecology Center.

With those programs active within our organization we thought it would be challenging just to see where we stood by doing an audit and evaluation process with the Environmental Certification program. The sports turf team, the University and I are quite proud of the certification because it is a testament to how we operate.

Stevens: Getting your facility recognized is always a good thing, especially when the recognition comes from a well-respected national organization like STMA. Receiving an award specifically for the sports facilities adds a new layer of distinction to the environmental focus of the entire university. Unlike an individual award that shows a person’s personal achievements, this award recognizes our entire sports turf department for all the work we are doing here at Elon University.

The award also reinforces that we are doing the right things to protect the environment during the course of our work. Without the infrastructure and support from university administration and the sound environmental practices of our crew, this certification would not have been possible. People at every level of the organization played a part. All aspects of the facility, not just the fields, are taken into account for the award. The ten areas that are assessed give a thorough evaluation of facilities and management practices. We chose to have the entire facility assessed for the certification versus just one field. When factoring in environmentally safety we treat all fields equally and are proud to be recognized for this achievement.

What if any changes did you make to meet the requirements?

McNeal: The main things that we did were to clean up the shop area of materials that were no longer needed. During our annual Hazards Materials Inventory activity (inventory all items within the building). This type of inventory was about 4 years past due, so we had lots of materials to work with DEH to properly dispose of the products. It all came together at the right time to clean things up at our shop and to apply for the Environmental Certification.

Suddeth: The most notable change to meet the requirements was the incorporation of new smart irrigation controllers on campus. These technologies have really changed the last couple years and we had begun incorporating those on main campus but have now done so with our athletic facility as part of the Environmental Certification. The water savings and conservation just made sense and it was an easy sell to our administrators.

Stevens: The biggest challenges for us to obtain the award were going through each of the ten categories and making sure that we were able to meet the requirements. As North Carolina State licensed pesticide applicators we are required to record all use of pesticides. We use this same mentality when it comes to fertilization, cultural, and seeding practices.

Virtually everything that is done to a field is recorded. This allows us to track our management practices with each field and build a documented history. Providing this information to our reviewer made the evaluation run more smoothly because he could easily see all the things that we are doing. Over the past decade Elon University has made a strategic initiative to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. This allowed for new projects and staffing that helped us achieve certification.

Cogdill: We had most of the required BMP’s already accounted for, the required checklist is very extensive and as such a helpful reminder. We are a public agency; we constantly strive to achieve a high level of environmental safety, particularly as it relates to our customers.

Have you publicized becoming environmentally certified?

Suddeth: The University has not publicized the certification other than to make an announcement through our University webpage. I do believe that when athletes, parents, and coaches visit the USC Upstate Soccer Complex they realize that the University is practicing environmentally sound management. We often get comments from those using the facility how well managed and orderly the facility is and that is all we want.

Stevens: We opted to get the plaque over the banner. The plaque for us is a professional and longer-term way to present the accomplishment. After we received the award we were recognized on our main university website. The student newspaper came and wrote an article about our achievement and the news was posted to our university’s Physical Plant Facebook and Twitter pages. We have placed the plaque up on the wall in our shop, so anyone coming into our shop can see the accomplishment. The real value of the award is evident in our facilities, which are seen daily by users. The award itself serves as validation that we are doing the right things to protect the environment for this generation and future generations to come.

Cogdill: We are still working on this; our community is very aware of our commitment to the environment and has high expectations as it relates to all environmental concerns and issues.

McNeal: We have announced the certification internally. DEH has also sent out communication regarding the certification, most recently during an external Environmental audit that we went through. I am not sure at this time how it will be communicated to the public, etc.