The 2019 Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational (Dow GLBI) recently was named a GEO Certified Tournament, designating it as the first-ever professional golf tournament to receive this recognition during its first year of operation and the first event on the LPGA Tour to be fully certified. The certification, awarded by the Scotland-based GEO Foundation (GEO), is an internationally recognized award for sustainability in golf.
To become GEO Certified, the Dow GLBI — the only team event on the LPGA Tour — executed the first year of a five-year sustainability strategy that is designed to balance environmental impacts, conserve natural resources and benefit the local community. In addition to the thorough review conducted by GEO, a third-party verification was carried out by the Council for Responsible Sport, the official verification body for the GEO Certified Tournaments in North America.
To earn certification, the Dow GLBI achieved a total of 45 out of 55 points across six categories — planning and communications, site protection, procurement, resource management, access and equity and community legacy.
“The certification process is rigorous and comprehensive, and we are thrilled to achieve this world-first designation for women’s golf during our first year of operating this event,” said Chris Chandler, executive director of the Dow GLBI. “By working in partnership with GEO Foundation and many local partners, we will continue to push the boundaries on environmental sustainability and community value at our future events, with the goal of enriching the Great Lakes Bay Region community and educating and inspiring others.”
Highlights from the 2019 event include:
• 68% of waste generated during the Dow GLBI was recycled or reused, with major efforts to avoid single use materials and to pioneer recycling of bulk materials such as banners and wraps.
• More than 1,000 pounds of unused prepared food was donated to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, a nonprofit organization that distributes food through a network of hunger relief partners in 22 counties.
• Over 5,500 students were introduced to the First Tee’s golf and life skills curriculum, and 600-plus children attended The First Tee Junior Clinic at the Currie Golf Course.
• More than 1,450 individuals recorded 28,214,989 total steps as part of the #TeamUp and Step Up for Healthy Living Challenge.
• 36 local non-profits received a total of $200,000 as a result of the #TeamUp for the GLBR program, in which non-profits were paired with teams of LPGA players and had the chance to earn additional contributions based on how the LPGA teams finished in competition.
• Scoping and calculating the comprehensive baseline carbon footprint for the event.
The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that sport can be an important enabler of sustainable development and can contribute to health, education and social inclusion objectives. Through its partnership with GEO Foundation, Dow, as the tournament sponsor, seeks to share its experience and inspire other organizers to forge collaborations that will help maximize the positive environmental, economic and social impacts of their sporting events, according to Dr. Anastasia Behr, technology and sustainability leader from Dow Olympic & Sports Solutions.
“Our vision has been to host a tournament that benefits and engages the Great Lakes Bay Region locally and helps set a benchmark in sustainability for other golf tournaments and their commercial partners on the LPGA Tour,” said Behr, who is the Dow GLBI’s sustainability advisor. “This aligns with one of Dow’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, in which we are collaborating with like-minded partners to develop sustainable blueprints that will advance the well-being of people and the planet.”
To achieve GEO certification, the organizers must complete a robust, custom-built program for golf tournaments that includes document and evidence submission, a third-party verification carried out by the Council for Responsible Sport, a thorough review by GEO, and agreement to Continual Improvement Points for future tournaments.
“This achievement is the result of a tremendous team effort — led by the golf and sustainability groups in the Dow Corporation, well supported by Octagon and backed up with active participation from Midland Country Club,” said Jonathan Smith, executive director of the GEO Foundation. “Together they have put in place long term vision, strategy and policies, taken immediate action, and delivered meaningful results in the first year of the event. This is a great example of how, with the right attitude and approach, all golf tournaments can accelerate their work to reduce resource consumption, waste and climate impacts, working to ensure the tournament delivers net positive benefits to people and the environment. We have no doubt this will be a model and catalyst for other golf events on the LPGA and more widely.”
In addition to the Dow GLBI being named a GEO Certified Tournament, the Midland Country Club, which hosts the tournament, achieved the widely endorsed and accredited GEO Certified eco-label in June 2019 for its own commitment and action in fostering nature, conserving resources and supporting the community.
The full Dow GLBI GEO Certified report can be found online at https://bit.ly/2Z3YyB2
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