LEEDing the Way with Play

rocky_grove1Even through these economic struggles, when development has slowed to a near standstill in places, one trend remains constant. The number of projects with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) designation has increased significantly every year since the program’s implementation. Five years ago, many people thought this “green building fad” would have a lifespan comparable to the popularity of acid-washed jeans. I think we can all agree now that sustainability is here to stay and LEED projects are becoming more commonplace.

We think about recycled content of our carpet, HVAC ratings, and balancing budgets with point requirements. What about getting an innovation point, for no additional dollars, for something you already have to provide? If you have LEED-ND or LEED-Schools projects on your drawing board, you can use Playworld Systems play and fitness equipment to earn innovation points. There are many ways and levels of involvement you can use to achieve this. I will highlight a few here to get your creative juices flowing.

Let’s start with Innovative Materials and Manufacturing Practices. Playworld Systems pioneered new, revolutionary manufacturing processes as part of their  long-term commitment to reduce their impact on our environment and eliminate PVC in their products. The company is the first and only playground manufacturer to earn the notable Cradle to Cradle BasicCM certification for its products. This rigorous and comprehensive environmental certification system, administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation InstituteTM, evaluates products and materials for their impact on human health and environmental health and design for future life cycles. Using Playworld Systems equipment alone is grounds for an innovation point.

Want to go a step further? Every piece of Playworld Systems equipment comes with a carbon footprint that accounts for everything it takes to mine, manufacture and get it out of the factory door. You can use this footprint in educational signage, to teach everything from terminology, to associations with everyday equivalents. For example, if a playground has a 40-ton carbon footprint, that is equivalent to more than 2,200 pairs of flip flops!

Ready for the finish line? Build on the two ideas above and incorporate carbon offsetting to create a carbon-neutral play or fitness space. You can use trees, recycling or any other carbon-negative activity to create a goal plan for offsetting. This can be incredibly educational, rewarding and perhaps the most fun way to introduce young minds to environmental stewardship.

Designing great outdoor spaces for our children is more important than ever. Anyone can design a basic playground; the challenge now is to create something more. Let’s make spaces that physically and mentally engage kids – spaces that draw them out to play, without making a negative impact on the very thing they should be out enjoying. Let’s play with an appreciation for all our lovely little planet has to offer.

Are you a LEEDer in green play?

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