NRPA 2011 Annual Convention – WHAT IT MEANS TO BE GREEN

NRPA-2011-AThousands of park and recreation professionals gathered last week at the Georgia World Convention Center in Atlanta to learn about new trends and innovative products making an impact in their industry.  The foot traffic at the convention appeared to be less than last year but that’s not unique to this sector, as trade show attendance seems to be on the decline across the board.  From our observations, key decision makers from various municipalities were still in attendance and as a result we had many useful worthwhile conversations.

While foot traffic may have been down, excitement on the show floor was up! Nature was one theme that was well-represented in booths both large and small.  While we were not the only  manufacturer to tout our green-themed play equipment, we were the only playground manufacturer that could claim our products were Cradle to Cradle certified.  We heard firsthand from customers that sustainability is increasingly becoming more important in the purchasing process and they were excited to learn about our sustainability efforts.

Playworld Systems recently received the notable Cradle to Cradle Certified(CM) Basic designation for its products in September. Cradle to Cradle Certified is a rigorous and comprehensive environmental certification system administered by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute ™ that evaluates products and materials for their impact on human health and environmental health, and design for future life cycles.  The institute’s founder William McDonough was named the “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine for creating the Cradle to Cradle certification, and we like to think that Playworld Systems is the “Hero of the Playground” for bringing his thinking to our manufacturing protocol and processes.

Park and recreation directors and media who visited the booth were intrigued by our Cradle to Cradle certification and asked important questions about our products. Our Origins line was also a big hit and visitors loved the serene ambience created by the free-flowing water that was part of Boulder Creek.  The Origins Garden Scapes also drew attention for its live vegetation, which was showcased in the booth. Many had conversations on the Origins Boulders which can be arranged to create outdoor classrooms as part of the overall play space.  From live grass and lettuce to green garden beds, Playworld Systems demonstrated its sustainable prowess at this year’s show.

So while the overarching theme for this year’s NRPA convention was hinged on all things green, we at Playworld Systems know that not all products are equated equal when it comes to their impact on the environment.