Shade Planning for Schools

13 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 2 S TRATEGIES FOR P ROVIDING S HADE A number of strategies for providing shade on school grounds are available; however, no single approach is best for all schools. This chapter introduces three strategies for providing shade on school grounds: solid roof structures, shade cloth structures, and natural shade. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach are discussed. This information will assist schools in determining how best to provide shade for their students, teachers, staff, and visitors. Regional differences in vegetation, the need for winter warmth, playground usage patterns, and seasonal weather threats to playground structures factor into the decision process of determining the best approach for each school. For many schools, a combination of strategies that capitalizes on the advantages of several approaches will be the most effective. Outdoor classroom at Poplar Creek Elementary School—Siler, Kentucky With little more than a few hundred dollars, the support of local businesses, and a State environmental education grant, Principal Tom Shelly and the teachers at Poplar Creek Elementary School, along with the students and their parents, were able to fund the construction of this outdoor classroom and nature trail on their school grounds that otherwise would have cost as much as $30,000. Solid Roof Structures Solid roof structures are permanent structures that provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays and can be designed to serve a multitude of purposes. Typically, the structures are designed to be open on at least three sides and often include furniture that can be moved around. To maximize flexibility, the design can include lighting and plumbing. Advantages • Provides “all-weather” protection. • Provides additional classroom space. • Provides exercise space during inclement weather. • Provides flexibility of design. • Can be used as a lunch or picnic area. • Has a long life span. Disadvantages • Requires drainage and guttering. • Can be more expensive than other strategies. Considerations • Schools considering any type of construction project will need to determine which of their local building codes and fire codes are applicable to their project. • Careful planning will result in the positioning of the structure so that it creates shade at the right place, at the right time of day, throughout the year. • Schools located in areas that experience heavy snowfall will need to consider the snow load when designing the roof of the structure. • Likewise, schools located in areas that experience high winds will need to design accordingly.