Irie Fields at Kittitian Hill, a sustainable luxury development on the Caribbean island of St Kitts, has become the first golf course in the world to achieve the new sustainability mark for golf developments, GEO Certified® Developments.
Set on the slopes of Mount Liamuiga, Irie Fields has fairways and greens just like thousands of golf courses across the world. However, this new golf course, set to open mid-2016, is a game changer for international golf course development as it is the first golf course to attain GEO Certified® Developments status. This accreditation sets new standards for golf course developments that recognise the opportunity to contribute more positive social and environmental impacts across the design, planning and construction of the course.
Created by golf course architecture firm European Golf Design (EGD) in association with 1991 US Masters champion, Ian Woosnam, OBE, Irie Fields golf course is part of Belle Mont Farm on Kittitian Hill, which encompasses 400 acres of organic farmland and tropical forest; it’s an edible landscape, planted with organically-grown fruit and vegetables. The Irie Fields golf course sits within this landscape and instead of the usual shrubs and trees surrounding the in play areas you will find organic crops and trees bursting with fresh fruit.
Kittitian Hill founder, Val Kempadoo, believes that sustainability is one of the fundamental factors to a successful business, saying “From the very start I knew I wanted Irie Fields golf course to blend the unique culture of the island with a sustainable ethos to create something that was truly Kittitian, for the local community and visiting tourists alike. From selecting the location to siting the bunkers, the environment, the community and resource efficiencies have come first. While we had the vision, central to implementing it has been the support of EGD and guidance from the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) and I am confident that by working together we have created something which will bring true benefit to the people and nature of the island and a real, enjoyable Kittitian experience for our visitors for generations to come.”
One of the highlights of this dedication to providing social value throughout the project has been the strong commitment to local employment and local supply chains. More than 95% of staff involved in the construction of the course originated from St Kitts itself and more than 97% of bulk golf course construction materials were sourced from the Island.
An edible landscapes policy has seen over 25 hectares of edible crops cultivated across the site, including mango, avocado, banana, guava, pineapple and passion fruit, bringing truly multi-purpose productivity to out of play areas. The use of zero chemicals throughout construction has delivered major pollution prevention benefits and a healthier environment to play in. Resource efficient practices were also embedded into the design and construction of the course, minimising water consumption of the course and the scale of earth works required during construction.
Gary Johnston, Designer at European Golf Design, who led the project, said “Sustainability was integral in everything we did at Irie Fields, from the moment we picked up our pencils through to seeding the last hole. We have already recommended the GEO Developments programme to other developers and we hope that Irie Fields is just the first of many golf courses that we are involved with that will gain the GEO Certified® Development mark.”
GEO is a not-for profit organisation dedicated to supporting sustainability across the international golf industry. Irie Fields has been working with GEO since early 2011 and has played a leading role in shaping the processes, documentation and voluntary standard for GEO’s new sustainable golf development programme. GEO provides guidance and support on the benefits and practical implementation of sustainable operations for golf developments though the OnCourse® Developments programme and they also administer the independently verified GEO Certified® Developments mark.
Jonathan Smith, CEO at GEO said “This is an exciting time for sustainable golf and Irie Field’s achievement in becoming the first development to gain the GEO Certified® Developments mark is something which not only the club and its architects can be proud of but the industry as a whole. Golf is stepping up and taking its responsibility and its opportunities seriously, and we are honoured to work with so many individuals and organisations that show real leadership in the field of sustainable golf.”
More information about the OnCourse® Developments programme, GEO Certified® Development’s Mark and the Irie Fields Development can be found here