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GREEN GOLF: Tournament shoots for zero when it comes to carbon emissions

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The Principal Charity Classic is in full swing at Glen Oaks in West Des Moines. Even the best golfers can't shoot for zero, but that doesn't mean the tournament can't try. The Principal Charity Classic, MidAmerican Energy and Waste Management teamed up for the "Shoot For Zero" initiative to minimize the tournament's environmental impact.

You expect to see green on a golf course, but this year organizers of the PCC say they're trying to make everything green, as in environmentally friendly. Principal Senior Vice President Mary O'Keefe says, "This will be the first carbon neutral, first green golf tournament."

She says it takes a considerable amount of energy to put on the tournament. She says, "When you think of the generators and all the golf carts and all the lighting and everything that's out here. It really does use a lot of energy."

MidAmerican Energy figured out the tournament's carbon footprint. When you factor in the gas from the more than 70,000 spectators, all the jet fuel for the players' private planes to get to the tournament and everything else, it adds up to nearly 1,800 tons of carbon emissions. Ann Thelen with MidAmerican Energy says, "We actually have three pages of activities that we measured to see how much of a footprint the event would be."

To lessen the carbon footprint of the event, crews added Iowa-made solar panels to the skybox. The panels will power refrigeration units and televisions. You'll also see the panels powering ten golf carts. As for recycling, stations are scattered around the golf course, along with two solar powered trash compactors. O'Keefe says, "All around there will be subtle ways. It won't change the tournament a great deal, but it will add to the overall, the benefits of the tournament."

And, what the tournament can't reduce, MidAmerican Energy will offset by trading in some of the utility company's renewable energy credits. Thelen says, "By having those renewable energy credits and donating them, we do think it's a good way to help the event."

Organizers say fans can be a part of the Shoot for Zero initiative by throwing bottles and cans in the recycling bins. And, for every ten souvenir t-shirts spectators buy, MidAmerican Energy will plant a tree in honor of the 2011 Principal Charity Classic.