GREEN BIZ COLUMN: Champions on and off the course

West Shore golf club working towards environmentally sound operation

Olympic View Golf Club sales and event manager Ken Langdon holds a tray of fresh organic produce that will make its way into meals at Forester’s Bistro and Bar. The organic menu ingredients were one of the steps taken that helped the restaurant achieve gold level status from the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification program.

Olympic View Golf Course is known for being one of the region’s top golf courses.

With stunning views of the Olympic Mountains and rolling fairways nestled amongst the trees, the Golf BC-owned property hosts thousands of golfers from around the world each year, and hundreds of couples have tied the knot inside the beautiful clubhouse. What many of the golfers and diners might not know is that Olympic View Golf Club is one of the greenest operating businesses in town.

Olympic View Golf Club is a proud member of the Audubon Society and is doing its part to preserve and protect the environment. And last year, sales and events manager Ken Langdon and the team at Olympic View became the first golf course to participate in the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification by having Forrester’s Bistro & Bar reach the VIGBC “Gold” level for their sustainability practices.

The green ambassador for Olympic View, Langdon and his co-workers have worked to implement changes to allow the restaurant to operate in a more efficient and sustainable fashion.

Over the past few years, Olympic View has also made major investments into their building and systems, to reduce both their footprint and operating costs. A couple of years ago, the club invested in new air-cooled refrigeration systems, which reduces the amount of water used, is more efficient and will save a lot of money in the long run.

Some of the simpler tweaks they’ve implemented include installing low-flow faucets in the kitchen and dishwashing area and replacing burned-out lights with longer lasting, energy efficient LED bulbs. All waste is separated and recycled and food waste is composted. The renovated clubhouse has super thick, double-paned windows to retain warmth on the coldest of days and the HVAC system was replaced recently with an Energy Star rated model.

In the kitchen, Chef Melbourne O’Brien is a stalwart in the local food movement. He’s a member of the Island Chefs Collaborative and is a huge proponent of sourcing as much local food as possible. When you dine at Forrester’s you’ll find fresh produce from Saanich Organics, ALM Farm and other local producers. Olympic View purchases well above the VIGBC threshold of 10 per cent local food and beverage for its menu. It’s little wonder that non-golfers from the neighbourhood make up a large portion of the regular diners.

The largest investment Olympic View Golf Club has made to become more sustainable is definitely the quest to become fully self-sufficient for water.

Over the past couple of years, a new reservoir has been under construction that will soon allow Olympic View to operate year-round without drawing on Capital Regional District water supplies. The project has cost in the hundreds of thousands and has been completed in phases.

This summer, the expanded reservoir will be completed and by 2016 the taps from the CRD will be turned off. In the long run, this will keep millions of litres in the CRD’s reservoir and the cost savings for Olympic View will be considerable. It’s a win-win situation that will pay off quickly.

The long term plan for Olympic View is to chip away at different items on the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification checklist. Plans are in the works to adopt/maintain Willing Park along the 14th hole, install a new bike rack for employees as well as a new heat capture system that will save both money and energy.

In the meantime, Langdon and the team at Olympic View are working to bring Forrester’s up to the VIGBC “Green” level for their sustainability practices.

Craig Sorochan is program manager for Vancouver Island Green Business Certification. To learn more, visit the Green Business Directory at vigbc.ca.

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