Sustainable Is Attainable


On March 15, the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Oldfield Community Association and the Seabrook Island Property Owners Association were recognized as the state’s first Audubon International-certified sustainable communities.

To earn the certification, the communities developed and implemented long-term sustainability plans that address things like economic development and tourism; education; the environment; governance; housing; open space and land use; planning, zoning, building and development; public safety and emergency management; recreation; resource use; transportation; and volunteerism and civic engagement.

sustainable communities2“We are excited to honor these communities for their commitment to creating a sustainable future,” said Christine Kane, executive director at Audubon International. The nonprofit organization works with developments, resorts and golf courses in 36 countries on natural resource management practices.

The Town of Hilton Head Island is the first municipality in South Carolina — and the seventh overall — to receive this designation.

"Development on our Island was born in a climate of sustainability, and the Town of Hilton Head Island strives to continue our partnership with nature via public education, public-private partnerships, the use of green building techniques and a deep respect for our natural environment and the many natural services it provides our residents and visitors," said Sally Krebs, the town’s sustainable practices coordinator.


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The multi-stage effort was led by the town’s staff.

Oldfield Community Association received the designation after members completed the process in only a year and a half — the fastest community ever to be certified.

“Oldfield has doubled its emphasis on sound ecological and sustainable practices,” said Oldfield Club board member Steve Massas.  

Overlooking the Okatie River, Oldfield is a private community boasting 860 acres that include a Greg Norman Signature golf course, nature trails, a fitness center and pool, an equestrian center, and a nature and outfitters center.

The community has worked with Audubon International for about a decade, first as part of Audubon’s Cooperative Sanctuary Program for golf and then participating in the group’s Green Neighborhoods Program. In order to earn the sustainable community designation, Oldfield increased its recycling efforts, switched to eco-friendly cleaning products for its common areas and came up with suggested “green” practices for lawn and garden care.

sustainable communities4“This is how you change the world, by showing it’s possible to change small habits that add up to a big difference,” said Jill Kombrink, Oldfield’s naturalist and environmental educator. “There were long hours of meetings, compromising and decision-making, but there's a true sense of accomplishment. Do we still pull plastic bottles out of the garbage and see lawn care providers spraying who knows what onto our lawns? Yes, but change doesn’t happen overnight. With a deep breath and a hopeful heart, we continue with patience.”

Seabrook Island is a gated resort and residential community on a 2,400-acre barrier island south of Charleston. It was the first community in the state and sixth overall to receive the Audubon designation.