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Kiawah Island Golf Resort was “green” before “green” was cool


Now that another year’s marketing-driven hype of “Earth Day” is over, many businesses are going back to their not-so-“green” business-as-usual.  That doesn’t happen at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.


Before Kiawah Island Golf Resort was even established in 1976, it set the groundwork to become an industry leader in developing and implementing environmentally sensitive practices.  Prior to any commercial construction, a complete inventory of the island’s wildlife and plant life was undertaken.  Using what was learned, a master land-use plan was developed for Kiawah Island where it dictated a series of objectives that are still adhered to today including:


  • Preserving the environmental integrity of the island by matching and blending human needs with – rather than imposing them on – nature.  Provide for the maximum human enjoyment of and exposure to, the island’s many natural views and experiences, particularly as they relate to the sea.
  • Introduce those experiences and activities that compliment, heighten and supplement the variety of natural opportunities.
  • Mitigate disturbance to the natural setting of the island by strict design, construction and management standards.
  • Minimize the potential sources of pollution normally associated with development.
  • Implement innovative techniques and land development concepts that reduce the costs without compromising the island’s environmental systems.
  • Manage the island’s natural systems to provide optimum benefit for both human and environmental needs.


In short, all of the resort development has been carefully designed to blend into the island’s natural habitat. This commitment to nature preservation led to many innovative developments, including the requirement that all buildings remain behind the secondary dune line to protect this critical habitat. There are also no streetlights on the Kiawah, as the artificial light could attract Loggerhead Sea Turtles away from the beach, on which they nest for six months of the year.


Long before “ecotourism” became a marketing term, the resort was giving guests the opportunity to donate $2 per night during their stay to the Kiawah Island Conservancy, which is dedicated to the preservation of the island.  In 2008 alone, this has generated close to $110,000 for this organization.


Recently, the resort has added a variety of new initiatives for protecting Kiawah’s natural habitat, including new water conservation practices, an extensive recycling program for all residents and guests, even a program for recycling the oyster shells from our summer oyster roasts.


Ongoing projects on Kiawah Island Golf Resort:

  • All five of the resort’s golf courses as well as the grounds of resort’s hotel, the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, are Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.  Guest donation to Kiawah Island Natural Habitat Conservancy (voluntary $2/guest).
  • Native vegetation is employed throughout the resort by the landscaping department to provide food and shelter for island wildlife.  One lot per neighborhood is left “wild” to provide habitat for the island animals during daylight hours.
  • For more than 16 years, resort employees have organized Beach and River Sweeps and two years ago, we began working with the Adopt a Highway program on Bohicket Road, the main road approaching the resort.
  • All resort chefs work with the Sustainable Seafood Initiative serving fish and seafood that is caught or farmed with consideration for the long-term viability of individual marine species and for the oceans’ ecological balance as a whole.  All shrimp used is local and 40% of fish used is from South Carolina waters.
  • Up to 40% of produce used in resort restaurants is from local farms.  In addition to supporting local farm economies, it reduces carbon emissions from transportation while providing guests with fresher and more nutritious produce.
  • Extensive resort guest, employee and resident recycle programs were implemented.  Carolina Recycling Assn. awarded the resort the 2009 Outstanding Business/Industry Recycling Program.
  • The resort has an award-winning environmental education program featuring a staff of naturalists dedicated to educating island guests, residents and employees about the island plants, wildlife, ecology and our conservation efforts.


Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a proud recipient of GOLF Magazine Green Award in honor of our eco-sensitive facilities. 

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