Let’s Get Serious About Shade!

In recent years, neighborhoods and communities have become more vocal about the need for shade at their playground facilities. In addition to skin cancer awareness, playground surfacing upgrades to poured-in-place or tile options which get hotter than standard wood fiber mulch have fueled this demand. As a solution, it has been discovered that fabric shade structures provide an opportunity to implement colorful, thematic design into a new or existing playground.

A number of questions should be asked when choosing shelters and shade structures:
♦ Are you just looking for shade or are you looking for weather protection as well?
♦ Does it need to be waterproof or does it need to allow air to pass through?

It is important to consider aesthetics:
♦ Is a branded or thematic look important?
♦ Should the shade structure complement nearby architecture or natural surroundings?

A well placed and designed shade structure can become a focal point. It can have dynamic elements, light up at night or be used to enhance or even frame a view. A broader array of available colors and textures for powder coating allow for more imaginative designs.

Some practical considerations when purchasing and placing a shade structures or shelter include:
♦ Accessibility
♦ Maintenance requirements
♦ Proximity to restrooms, trash receptacles and other amenities
♦ Lighting requirements depending on park hours
♦ Structural requirements like wind and snow loads
♦ Vandal resistance

One question to consider is whether the structure is to provide weather protection as opposed to just shade. There are also perforated roof options that provide shade but allow for the rain to drain through, discouraging people from “camping out” in inclement weather. Perforated aluminum roofing can provide a soft shade pattern when the weather is nice and the sun is filtering through.

Besides UV protection, comfort, and aesthetic appeal, shade structures can potentially increase or generate revenue. Ample shade may increase visitation and stay time, provide a competitive edge for tournaments held at sports facilities, and extend the life of your park’s furnishings and playground equipment by protecting them from the elements.

Looking for a return on your shade investment? From cabanas to built structures, it’s common for commercial areas to rent out shade structures by the hour. Municipalities are also following suit by incorporating sponsored shade structures, with corporate logos or signage.

With a number of nonprofit organizations now offering shade structures funding assistance, much is being done to raise awareness about the direct correlation between UV exposure and skin cancer. Shade has multiple advantages. It not only protects skin but if can also help combat obesity by keeping everyone active without overheating. Some researchers speculate that the lack of physical activity may not simply be as a result of laziness but more due to a lack of access to exercise areas. Promoting physical activity by fending off the sun’s rays should be a goal of any community, school or recreational area.

In addition to providing shade over playground areas and gathering spots, it is also a good idea to provide shade where visitors may stand in line for long periods of time such as waiting in line for rides at an amusement park. Shade isn’t just for guest comfort, it is also for the safety of your employees who stand around for hours on end. Increasingly though, shade structures or shelters are being installed to shield more than just people. They can be used in parking lots or over park sculptures.

With so many shade options and materials, call ParknPool at 877.777.3700 for assistance in finding the right umbrella, shade structures or shelter for your needs.

Source: Recreation Management
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