About Signature Sanctuary Certification
Audubon International's exclusive Signature Sanctuary Certification is for new and undeveloped golf courses and properties that are planning on future construction and development. The program involves comprehensive environmental planning with various stakeholders prior to and during construction so that the environmental health of the property is maintained in a sustainable manner. Both environmental and economic objectives are taken into account when developing a site-specific Natural Resource Management Plan to ensure that future managers apply sustainable resource management practices in the long-term stewardship of the property.
Make the Environment Part of Your Plan
Audubon International's Signature Sanctuary Certification offers a "beyond compliance" approach to project development, construction, grand opening, and long-term management. In addition to minimum certification standards, each project is given the opportunity to work towards three different levels of certification. The program is flexible and adaptable to the project, but generally involves the following:
- Initial Site Assessment- An on-site assessment will be conducted by Audubon International staff and the project team to evaluate and document the existing natural resources and how those resources may be impacted by future proposed development.
- Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP)- A well-developed project specific NRMP will serve as a guide for the construction and management of the property focusing on wildlife management, habitat enhancement, waste and materials management, energy efficiency, water quality and conservation, and pest management.
- Implementation- To become certified, a project owner must implement the NRMP, meet the minimum certification standards and site-specific requirements, and pass an environmental audit. Site visits are conducted by Audubon International staff during the major phases of the project to supplement training and education of construction and operational personnel as well as consulting staff.
- Environmental Audit- Audubon International staff will conduct an environmental audit of the project to assess compliance with the program and to generate site-specific requirements for long-term management in accordance with Signature Sanctuary Program standards.
- Recertification- Demonstrating continued compliance with the program criteria, implementation of the NRMP, and educational and outreach activities are necessary for recertification. Each project location will host a site visit from a member of a local environmental group on year three after the environmental audit. Subsequent site-audits are conducted every third year by Audubon International staff.
To join the Signature Sanctuary Certification track a property must apply for membership. Applications will be reviewed by Audubon International to ensure that the proposed project is a good fit for Signature Sanctuary Certification. A one-time, non-refundable program registration fee of $9,500 (USD) is required once the application has been approved.* There is a $950 membership fee each year thereafter and an $800 recertification site visit fee every three years.*
*Base fee for single project in North America. International and multi-part projects will receive a customized proposal.
*Additional site visits are available at the expense of $800/day plus travel expenses.
"We have always shared Audubon International's philosophy that nature and golf can coexist in a shared environment. At Oitavos, we worked hand in hand to achieve this balance and found in many cases that Audubon International habitat requirements enhanced the beauty and intrigue of the golf experience. It's certainly a win-win situation for everyone."
- J. Drew Rogers, ASGCA, Golf Course Architect
Quinta la Marinha Oitavos Golfe
Benefits of Membership
Becoming a Certified Audubon International Sanctuary saves members money and natural resources, according to the most recent survey of members of the Audubon Signature and Classic Programs. Members considered operational costs, up front investments, and the importance of the program in marketing and promotion. Results include:
- 90% of respondents reported that they believed annual maintenance and operations costs for their facility were either “lower than” or the “same as” the costs of an equivalent, non-Signature member golf course.
- 43% of respondents felt that these operations and maintenance costs were actually lower due to their participation in the Signature Program.
- 96% view their participation in the Signature Program as “a good business decision,” with the remaining 4% indicating that they “Don’t Know” at this time.
- 63% of respondents stated that participation in the Signature Program, including up front monetary and staff investment in the program, has or will save money, as compared to a course designed, constructed, and managed without Audubon International assistance, with 20% of the remaining respondents stating that they “Don’t Know” at this time.
- 90% stated that they believed the Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuary status earned through following the program guidelines has or will have value in marketing and promotional efforts.
Additional benefits of certification in AI's Signature and Classic Sanctuary certification tracks include:
“Green appeal” marketing edge - Certified Audubon Signature properties have a market advantage in attracting the growing number of people looking for “green” developments in which to live and recreate. Certification offers a distinct marketing edge over the competition–often supporting increased or faster sales, increased sales prices or member fees, and lower marketing and holding costs.
Operation and maintenance cost savings - Most members find that in achieving certification, they have learned and put into practice more cost-effective ways to develop and manage their properties, thus saving money, as well as natural resources.
Reduced risk - Following best management practices outlined in the NRMP reduces the risk of harm and potential liability from the use of hazardous materials and reduces the potential for on- and off-site pollution. Reduced risks in turn lower insurance and worker’s compensation costs, potential for adverse regulatory action and harmful publicity, and lost worker time.
Recognition for environmental leadership - Certified Audubon Signature Sanctuaries gain local, national, and international recognition for leadership in environmental stewardship. A certified Signature property stands as a model providing encouragement and good example for other landowners and managers, consultants, and the community at large to make future land management decisions based on the environment, not just the economic, values of the land.
Environmental protection and enhancement - Owners and managers of certified Audubon Signature properties can take great pride in doing their part to further sustainable resource management and protect and preserve the environment for this and future generations.