Earlier this month, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) announced that the New York Red Bulls (MLS) training facility became the first facility to receive its Certification for Environmentally Responsible Management.
This new program — which certifies and rewards facilities that showcase ecological stewardship and sustainability practices — was rolled out to STMA members in June after four years of development.
Submitted by Zachary Holm on behalf of his team (head groundskeeper Dan Shemesh, along with Neal Sitzman and Dylan Martin), the Red Bulls training facility, located in East Hanover, New Jersey, achieved 80 percent or higher ratings on the 10-part written assessment to qualify to have the facility attested. Dr. Doug Linde, professor of turf management at Delaware Valley University, completed the attesting and validated the environmental management practices at the facility.
“The Red Bulls are great organization to work for in many aspects, but one thing we do at the beginning of the year is set goals for the year,” Holm told SFM. “At [January’s] STMA Conference in San Diego — when this was announced — I texted Dan Shemesh and said, ‘This is something we’re getting.’ So while I made it a goal of mine to achieve, it was really a team effort with Dan, myself, Neal Sitzman and Dylan Martin. “
The Red Bulls grounds crew maintains two facilities about 25 minutes apart, which presented challenges in attaining the certification. But Holm said the team worked together well in order to achieve the goal.
“Getting both facilities certified couldn’t have been done without everyone,” he said. “I think the certification has been received well by the club’s front office and we’re hoping it will be something we can all use to better the club.
“I think this certification will help springboard possible new projects to further enhance our environmental status,” Holm added. “We were already talking about some renovations to landscape beds to save more water. Now, we’re tossing around the idea of creating some pollinator gardens. Hopefully these certifications are something the sales staff can use with sponsorship deals.”