SFMA Environmental Certification program continues to grow

After 4 years of development, the SFMA Environmental Facility Certification program launched in 2016. Within 2 months, there were eight facilities in the program. Today, there are 34 certified with four facilities in various stages of the program.

The Waukegan (IL) Park District pursued certification as part of the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship. “It was identified as a Waukegan Park District initiative under the Environmental Sustainability goal,” says Noel Brusius, CSFM, SportsPark and Athletic Field Maintenance Supervisor.

At Real Madrid, (Spain) Paul Burgess, CSFM, Director of Grounds and Environment, cites their commitment to leadership as the reason they pursued certification for two fields. “As the world’s biggest sports franchise, we feel it’s our responsibility to lead and to work with industry partners such as the SFMA, to help guide, certify and promote our work and facilities,” says Burgess.

Brusius also cited leadership as a driver for their involvement in the program. “Achieving certification was an example of how the Waukegan Park District strives to be a leader in the community. We also feel this certification was a justification of professionalism offered through SFMA,” says Brusius.

Since the certification rollout, the program was reviewed at its one-year anniversary, and Version 2.0 was developed. That version was created after analyzing the most “missed” questions. Those questions were clarified, and several new questions were added.

Self-assessment and attestation

The program consists of a self-assessment of the facility that the sports field manager fills out electronically. SFMA reviews that assessment, and an 80 percent pass rate on each section must be attained. Those sections include storm water management, fertilization, pesticides/IPM, recycling and educational outreach (considered one section), mowing, energy conservation, shop buildings/storage and irrigation. The instrument also includes questions about composting, but that section is included only as education only and the score is not included in the results. If 80 percent is not achieved on one or more sections, those can be re-taken within 6 months showing the improved practice(s).

After achieving an 80 percent pass rate on each section, attesting the facility is the next step. An attester is engaged—either a Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) or an academic in turfgrass management—who completes a face-to-face walkthrough of the facility to validate that the best management practices noted on the assessment form are in place. The attester completes an electronic form and recommends the facility for certification.

This program differs from the Certified Sports Field Manager (CSFM) that SFMA also developed and administers. The CSFM program certifies the individual on knowledge, skills and abilities through a written test and subsequent continuing education and service to the industry requirements. The CSFM keeps that professional designation wherever he/she moves within the industry. The Environmentally Responsible designation stays with the facility, even if the sports turf manager is no longer there. Both certifications are valid for 3 years before their respective recertification processes are required.

The facilities that are recommended for Environmental Facility Certification have the option of receiving a plaque or banner to display their achievement. Public awareness throughout the park district is a goal of Brusius. “We recently had a group from the Center for Conservation Leadership (CCL) on site to begin a revitalization of a rain garden. We also installed an interpretative sign showcasing best management practices for an environmentally sustainable sports facility that easily allows visitors to gain knowledge of our ecological maintenance practices,” says Brusius.

A $100 fee has been required prior to receiving the recognition materials but that pricing structure will change January 1, 2019. A $50 fee will be assessed when the facility assessment is submitted. If the facility successfully achieves the certification, a $100 fee for the recognition materials will then be assessed.

The recertification process will be more streamlined with the attesting step eliminated for those facilities that do not have changes since their initial assessment.

Double time

Four SFMA members have been awarded certification for a second facility. Josh DeJong was the Sports Turf Manager for Platte Valley (CO) School District, which was certified in April 2017. He used the program there as a model for other departments. “I used this experience to ‘raise the bar’ with regards to our organizational culture, striving to exhibit strong professional standards and practices and being an example for other departments and area agencies to model themselves after,” says DeJong. He moved to the Eaton Area Park and Recreation District in 2018 where he implemented the certification program there. “The knowledge gained, and implementation of best practices and policies directly impacts the quality and safety of or EAPRD facilities and demonstrates to participants and guests the importance of turf management and environmental awareness,” says DeJong.

The SFMA Environmental Committee is working on Version 3.0, which will include additional areas not currently assessed, such as landscaping, native plants and parking lots. It should be ready for adoption in mid-2019.

The Committee is chaired by Vickie Wallace and includes members: Rich Calarco, CSFM, Kyley Dickson, PhD, Blair Elliot, David Gerken, Zach Holm, CSFM, Jeremy Husen, Kevin Mercer, CSFM, Jimmy Simpson, CSFM, Gil Perez, Barry Stewart, PhD, and Doug Vescio.

For more information about SFMA’s Environmental Facility Certification Program, go to SFMA.org.


Facilities Certified Environmentally Responsible

Allen Pond Park, Edward Hall, City of Bowie, Bowie, MD

Berliner Sports Park, Ryan DeMay, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Columbus, OH

Celebration Park, Kim Spearman and Team, City of Allen, Allen, TX

Champion Field, Dean Pearson, Seattle University, Seattle, WA

Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex, Brian Winka, CSFM, Chesterfield, MO

CHS Field at the St. Paul Saints Baseball Club, Nick Baker, St. Paul, MN

Ciudad Real Madrid, Paul Burgess, Madrid, Spain

Eastside Centre, Joel Rieker, East Peoria, IL

Elon University Sports Complex, Scott Stevens, CSFM, Elon, NC

Greens Farms Academy, Tom Barry, Westport, CT

Grinnell College Athletic Fields, Jason Koester, Grinnell, IA

Iowa City Soccer Complex, Colin Stuhr and Joe Wagner, City of Iowa City, IA

Jim Warren Park, John Wagnon, Franklin, TN

Longfellow Park, Travis Stephen, Park District of Oak Park, IL

Minute Maid Park, Israel Hinojosa, Houston, TX

Open Space Park, Lee Van Meeteren, Sioux Center, IA

Peoria Sports Complex, Al Siebert and Brandon Putman, Peoria, AZ

Pioneer Community Park, Chris Bolender, Peoria, AZ

Platte Valley Schools, Joshua DeJong, Kersey, CO

Pleasant View Sports Complex, John Cogdill, Boulder, CO

Prairie Ridge Sports Complex, Elliott Josephson, Ankeny, IA

Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Paul Burgess, Madrid, Spain

Red Bull Arena, Zach Holm and Team, Harrison, NJ

Red Bull Training Facility, Zach Holm and Team, Harrison, NJ

Rio Vista Community Park, Chris Bolender, CSFM, Peoria, AZ

Ruby Hill Park, Abby McNeal, CSFM, Denver, CO

Target Field, Larry DiVito, Minneapolis, MN

The Gulfport SportsPlex, Ken Edwards, CSFM, Gulfport, MS

University of Michigan Soccer Complex, Anthony Pell, CSFM, Ann Arbor, MI

University of Nebraska Hibner Soccer and Tennis Center, Jared Hertzel and Blake Nelson, Lincoln, NE

University of North Carolina Greensboro Sports Turf Groundscare Center, Peter Ashe, CSFM, Greensboro, NC

USC Upstate Soccer Complex, Bruce Suddeth, Spartanburg, SC

Vanderbilt Athletic Complex, Ryan Storey, CSFM, Nashville, TN

Waukegan SportsPark, Noel Brusius, CSFM, Waukegan, IL