Arroyo Seco Golf Course, SOUTH PASADENA, CA

by certifying the nation’s first agza green zone® golf course, arroyo seco and the city of south pasadena are proving you can have clean quiet greens without the noise, health, and environmental damage inherent with gasoline-powered equipment.
— Luke Massman-Johnson, AGZA

THE HISTORY

Established in 1955, Arroyo Seco Golf Course has been a welcoming active green space for South Pasadena and neighboring communities for over half a century. Nestled among mature trees and graced with a sparkling creek, ASGC is a relaxed 18-hole par 3 course complemented by a casual clubhouse café, 250yd driving range, and fun mini-golf, all enjoyed by veteran golfers and families for generations.

 During development of South Pasadena’s AGZA Green Zone City certification, AGZA recognized ASGC would be another ideal property in which to expand the benefits of quieter, zero-emission equipment and operations. South Pasadena had the opportunity to raise the bar on their award-winning sustainability leadership by collaborating with AGZA and their course managers Donovan Bros Golf to establish the first AGZA Green Zone Golf Course in the nation.

golf is a sport and a lifestyle that prides itself on pristine landscaping and quiet beauty, but for the past century that has been marred by maintenance with small gas engines — the least efficient, dirtiest, and most polluting mechanisms around. not anymore.
— Luke Massman-Johnson, AGZA

THE EQUIPMENT

Replicating the city’s Green Zone model onto a golf course was not a slam dunk, however. Although AGZA had already proven the commercial power and performance of fully electric fleets, the incredibly meticulous reel greens mowers were far more complex and demanding than rotary mowers and handheld tools. In fact, alternatives to gas reel mowers included gas-electric hybrid and full electric run on lead acid batteries — a generation behind the cutting edge lithium-ion battery chemistry enjoyed by most other electric lawn and garden equipment.

Over the course of two years AGZA helped South Pasadena coordinate multiple hands-on electric and hybrid equipment demonstrations, with funding from SCAQMD and support from equipment manufacturers Jacobsen, Mean Green, Stihl, Greenworks, and others. AGZA worked closely with Donovan’s top-notch knowledgeable grounds crew, introducing the features of equipment and the safe and optimal operation. We reviewed ASGC’s existing gas fleet and operations, collected feedback on the electric trials, and drafted an ideal fleet proposal that radically reduced pollution and health hazards while allowing the crew to complete their heavy daily workload and fit within South Pasadena’s budget.

 

THE PROPERTY

AGZA also conducted on-the-ground property assessment combined with proprietary digital surveillance techniques to evaluate the size and variety of grounds operation needs. AGZA shadowed the crew on multiple days throughout the evaluation year, and gathered metrics on their work production rates for every individual piece of equipment.

Finally, AGZA introduced and demonstrated samples of commercial-grade electric equipment capable of replacing the gas equipment and reducing harmful noise and pollution. Donovan’s grounds crews had the opportunity to put the new electric equipment to the test on the exact tasks they do every day with gas — with very favorable feedback.

 

THE SCIENCE

With the cooperation of the Arroyo Seco groundskeeping staff, AGZA was allowed to record and tally all emissions from routine maintenance. For every machine, make, model, and year, engine horsepower or cc size, 2- or 4-stroke, gas or diesel, and EPA tier compliance were all documented. Those records were cross referenced with the EPA's meticulous emissions factors tables (authored by AGZA's Science Advisor Jamie Banks, PhD, MS, Executive Director of Quiet Communities) to determine the grams-per-horsepower-hour of the criteria pollutants per machine. Finally, those figures were extrapolated by weekly and monthly operational frequencies, including consideration for seasonal variations, to determine the total annual emissions from the golf course.

Original annual gas emissions at Arroyo Seco Golf Course: 14 tons of pollution annually

Here’s how those 14 tons broke down:

  • 456 lbs HC hydrocarbons — a precursor to ground level ozone (aka smog)
  • 6,480 lbs CO carbon monoxide — a precursor to ground level ozone (aka smog)
  • 213 lbs NOx nitrogen oxides — a precursor to ground level ozone (aka smog)
  • 101 lbs PM particulate matter — toxic and carcinogenic, asthma and lung disease
  • 20,632 lbs CO2 carbon dioxide — main contributor to climate change

THE BENEFITS

By replacing almost all gas equipment used for routine grounds maintenance operations with zero-emission electric tools, AGZA was able to eliminate 10 tons of toxic, poisonous pollution from Arroyo Seco Golf Course and the surrounding community every single year!

But we're not quite done. AGZA's analysis revealed that there is still one of two areas of operations that could be further improved, and which would eliminate another 1.74 tons of gas emissions per year.

Recommendations have been made and we are confident that the commendable and ongoing sustainability efforts at Arroyo Seco will continue to raise the bar even further in the near future.

 

thank you

AGZA would like to formally thank the City of South Pasadena, Donovan Bros., and the incredible grounds crew at Arroyo Seco Golf course for their partnership over the past two years. We fully expect to leverage this success to help other golf courses across the country evolve away from gas and into clean, green sustainable land care.

congratulations Arroyo Seco!

 

A STATEMENT from JAMIE BANKS, PHD, MS,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of QUIET COMMUNITIES

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South Pasadena Celebrates the Creation of the Nation’s First AGZA Green Zone® Golf Course  

July 21, 2017

Congratulations to South Pasadena for another environmental milestone – the establishment of the nation’s first AGZA Green Zone® Golf Course.  And, congratulations to the American Green Zone Alliance for its pioneering vision, efforts, and diligence in its work with the city.  Your accomplishments are a model for the nation.  

I am Executive Director of Quiet Communities, a national nonprofit organization providing science-based research, education, outreach, and assistance to organizations and communities interested in clean, healthy, sustainable solutions in grounds maintenance.  I was proud to be here to celebrate South Pasadena as the nation’s first AGZA Green Zone city and am sorry I could not attend today in person.  Thank you to the city and to AGZA for your invitation.  

Concerns about health and environmental impacts of gas-powered outdoor equipment are real. They are a major source of toxic and carcinogenic emissions, ground sourced particulates and deafening noise, and fuel spillage and toxic waste.  In April, we presented the results of a study at the Children’s Environmental Health Network research conference showing the large amounts of harmful fine particulate pollution, ozone pollution, and noise being generated from today’s gas-powered handheld tools and mowers. Overwhelming evidence exists regarding the harmful and even deadly nature of these forms of pollution and their effects upon those who are most vulnerable − workers, children, seniors and those with chronic diseases.   

Consequently, organizations like California’s Air Resources Board, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and medical societies have become increasingly concerned about the proliferation and use of small gas engines.  In February, CARB announced that by 2020, the pollution levels from these small engines will exceed those from the 16 million cars on the road. Recently, the state medical societies in NY and Massachusetts passed resolutions on gas leaf blowers recommending restrictions and cleaner, healthier alternatives.   

While research and education are effective in raising awareness, AGZA’s work in South Pasadena and other communities is what is making the real difference on the ground.  Its holistic approach involving education, training, certification, and equipment due diligence are the necessary components of lasting change.  The impact reports from AGZA show the dramatic ways in which the city’s transition to zero emissions, low noise equipment will improve health and environment.  And the golf course may be happy that is will no longer have to deal with damage to its greens from hydraulic leaks. 

Quiet Communities is proud to be working with AGZA to bring the model of what South Pasadena has created to the East Coast.  Following your lead, the Town of Southampton, NY established the first AGZA Green Zone park in the Eastern United States. The nearby Town of Huntington, NY is now following in those footsteps.  

With courage, work, and diligence, you have shown it is possible to develop a new norm for grounds maintenance – a cleaner, quieter, sustainable and healthier one. You are making a meaningful impact – one that will be a win for everyone.   

Congratulations, South Pasadena and AGZA!