December 17, 2008

Sustainability considerations in playground building

By Lian Mah

SUSTAINABILITY: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

When you hear the word “sustainability,” what immediately comes to mind? Is it recycling? “Going green?” Maintaining what is already there? Some people might think “reduce, reuse and recycle,” but sustainability is so much more than that.

With each build that KaBOOM! helps to plan and execute, we make a big impact, both on the community through the playground and surrounding area, and on the environment through the different materials that we use. We realize that there need to be steps taken and actions performed to offset the impact that every build has on the environment. This holds true not only for KaBOOM!-led builds, but for any community playground build or Play Day.

I was recently in Tampa, Fla. to kick off another great project with the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, Inc., the Tampa Bay Community and Family Development Corporation, and The Home Depot in conjunction with the NFL Neighborhood MVP program. A large part of our project is going to focus around making our Build Day more sustainable. Beginning in 2009, The Home Depot will be the official Sustainability Partner of KaBOOM!. We will be working together not only to lessen the impact that we have on the environment through our playground builds, but also share best practices with other organizations leading service projects. Here are some of the questions that we are already asking:

• How can we encourage more volunteers to carpool?
• What native plants and trees can we use that will thrive in the environment around the playground?
• How can we reduce waste on our build sites?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting updates on how and what we are planning for the build. My final blog post will reveal to everybody how much waste we were able to reduce and how we were able to make the site more sustainable through the collective effort of the community and The Home Depot!

My group has already nicknamed our Build Day “Earth Friendly Day,” and I would love to hear what ideas other people have to make a playground build more environmentally friendly!

Lian Mah is a KaBOOM! Project Manager based out of the Washington, D.C. office.

environment, builds