Is your school play equipment a climate change winner?

school play equipment - recycling fights climate change

Hardly a day goes by nowadays without the issue of climate change being mentioned on the news, backed up by disturbing scenes of the first obvious manifestations of global warming and its devastating effects upon the planet. Raging bush fires in Australia and severe flooding in Indonesia are but just two recent examples. International high profile personalities and groups such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion are giving this important topic the airtime and publicity it so rightly deserves.  And that is why we at the Hideout House Company have developed a range of recycled plastic play equipment for school playgrounds rather than using the traditional rounded timbers.  We have this whole big issue of plastic pollution which is wreaking all kinds of havoc on the environment adversely affecting wildlife, wildlife habitat and us, humans. David Attenborough has told us all about it in his television programmes and even school children from around the world recently went on strike for a day to drive the message home. There is already an excellent international programme within the educational community called Eco Schools which encourages environmental awareness and teaches children to adopt skills and practices to drive through change. Recycling forms a major part of this initiative. And that is why we are now using recycled plastic for our play equipment. Rather than polluting our planet, plastic bottles and cartons can now be 100% recycled and made into recycled plastic which is a low maintenance and environmentally friendly alternative to timber. Rubbish can therefore be transformed into a useful, high quality playground product rather than having to chop down trees to provide the timber alternative. But there is more. As well as its extremely eco-friendly credentials, there are also lots of other benefits to be gained from recycled plastic play equipment: •    It will never rot or degrade as it can easily tolerate damp conditions  •    It will never splinter or have cracks and shakes •    It is extremely low maintenance •    It is hard wearing and exceptionally durable lasting five times longer than timber and does not degrade with age •    It is UV, graffiti, algae and insect resistant There is a secondary benefit too in that children can actually learn about the recycling process from just using this type of play equipment by understanding and appreciating its provenance.  See the video on the benefits of recycled plastic school play equipment below. Some very good reasons therefore to make playground products out of recycled plastic and by doing so, this demonstrates a good environmental practice within your school and could even go towards your school’s Eco School accreditation. The range has now been extended out to include not just trim trails but planters, benches, sandboxes, water play tables, play boats and mud kitchens. The Hideout House Company also offers other unique products to schools which promote and encourage environmental awareness – these include special eco classrooms which feature renewable energy systems such as dynamo bikes which the children have to pedal to create energy/electricity and solar panels with mini wind turbines. By Simon Fearnehough, MD of the Hideout House Company Ltd    See QA Education’s climate change blog here.  

BMI Icopal hot melt provides great result for sports area

roof top sports area

BMI provides great result for sports area, pupils at a South East London school can now enjoy sport at height thanks to the timely completion of a rooftop ‘ multi-use games and sports area ’ or MUGA. Flat roof specialist Byford Roofing tackled the job knowing that the installation was complex and demanding but also that the schedule was tight. Byford chose BMI Icopal’s Parabit Holt Melt Duo that it applied to the concrete deck of the roof. Over that went a layer of inverted insulation and paving slabs ready to receive the MUGA pitch finish. “I chose Parabit because it’s a system we know well, we’re comfortable laying it and therefore it gave us confidence in achieving the target programme completion date. Not only is it suitable for a zero falls roof, it is also very robust,” explained Andrew Byford, Director at Byford Roofing. He added: “Because of the limited storage space on site, we needed to get the hot melt laid as fast as we could so that we could use the roof area for storage of the other roofing materials. That meant it also had to be tough enough to cope with movement of people and materials around it.” From an installation perspective, the most challenging aspect for Byford Roofing was ensuring that it provided a totally flat surface for the application of the sports surfacing. This meant accuracy in installing the insulation layer and the paving slab ballast. “It had to be completely level to ensure the MUGA could be laid to the correct tolerances,” said Byford. To ensure the contractor met that requirement, Byford chose a paving support system that offered minimal build up with the most support. “After that it was all about making precise cuts, taking time to get it right and achieve that level finish,” he continued. “We increased our labour on site to include the highest skilled operatives to make sure we did that.” Most of the 800m2 roof area was applied in an initial period of two-to-three weeks. Beyond that, Byford made return visits to site to work with the sequencing of other works by the main contractor. One of the later tasks was waterproofing with BMI Icopal Elastoflex around the fence posts that had been installed into the waterproofed parapet wall around the roof’s perimeter. Given the demanding nature of the contract, Byford was pleased with the result. “I was happy with the spec we put forward,” he said. “It has worked well and it enabled us to complete the project on time and within budget. Working with materials that we trust such as BMI Icopal Parabit Hot Melt Duo, helped us achieve a really satisfying outcome.”   For more stories like the rooftop sports area click here

Wooden playground equipment and why it is better

The two key components of designing playgrounds is sustainability and safety. When children are playing around them their attentions tend to sway towards how ‘fun’ and interactive they are. So when it comes round to designing the playgrounds sustainability safety and fun must all be equally considered. The development stage Wooden play areas can bring children closer to nature. Made from natural resources such as driftwood and logs and are usually supported by natural landscapes such as small grassy hills and mud floors and these natural attributes remind children of the importance of the outdoors. Playgrounds also help to promote co-operation, teacher interaction, motor and social skills which help to build relationships with others and to promote teamwork, and the wooden playground can help interaction with their natural surroundings. Other features of natural playgrounds can be sand pits, water ways and rocky areas. They are sustainable Wooden playgrounds are more sustainable and recyclable than plastics. Wooden Playgrounds moisture content is under 20% therefore it doesn’t rot, and if properly cared for can last for years. Even though metal playgrounds genuinely last longer they tend to rust and can become dangerous with sharp edges. Wooden playgrounds should be maintained on a regular basis as well as suitable drainage wherever they may be placed. Infinite Playgrounds, designers of natural playgrounds – take recycled timber and make them into natural shapes of the design they want to use. For example, the shape of the logs they use are considered when creating the climbing frames. This is a low-carbon footprint method unlike the metal or plastic frames. Practical and versatile Natural wooden playgrounds are great in helping children develop. This is because they detain ‘risky’ play so children can explore. As well as great traction, the playgrounds don’t become hot to the point of burning in summer and cold to touch on cooler days. They’re also custom-made as they’re designed with the natural environment in mind and whether that be in a National Trust Park or a playground, these structures are perfect for all spaces no matter the shape or size.  Metal playgrounds however, are only able to come in pre-set shapes or designs which make them unsuitable in this sense. Additions can easily be made to wooden playgrounds without affecting their structure unlike metallic playgrounds that may have to be destroyed and rebuilt. With any playground there should always be an attempt to incorporate some natural features and materials, and to make them hard-wearing as well as fun. Wooden playgrounds aren’t just great for the environment, they’re fully customisable, unique and specific to the surrounding environment.