The Green Mandate

The more things change, the more those changes get entrenched, and the once-uncommon becomes expected. That's what seems to be happening when it comes to new construction and renovations to existing recreation, fitness and sports facilities. The industry has long been on the cutting edge when it comes to adding sustainable aspects to projects, but nowadays it seems that going green is no longer a "nice-to-do." It's becoming a mandate.

Witness this inaugural event: The National Summit on Environmental Stewardship for People, Parks and Public Lands, hosted by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). By the time this issue hits your desk, the event will be past, having taken place May 4 to 7 in Portland, Ore. The event's goal?

"The American public is increasingly looking for practical solutions within their communities, their businesses and their homes for environmentally sustainable practices," said Katie Grove Coffroad, interim executive director of NRPA in a press release announcing the summit. "The stewards of our nation's public lands, parks and recreation resources can play a critical role in demonstrating best practices to achieve sustainable landscapes, connect our youth with nature in order to build the future for sustainability, and to define excellence in this effort for local communities. The Summit on Environmental Stewardship will provide a forum to demonstrate the principles, and a call to action for making it happen."

Many have already been called, as witnessed in parks and recreation facilities across the country aiming for sustainable design, incorporating environmental education programming and more.

But it's not just the parks and recreation facilities that are "getting it." Colleges and universities, public schools, YMCAs and other community centers, fitness clubs and more also are incorporating a green-friendly approach to their missions.

Want some more evidence? Just turn to our Innovative Architecture & Design Awards section, starting on page 24. Of the 10 winners, seven feature some sustainable aspect or another. The Health & Fitness Center at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich., is working toward LEED Gold certification. The team that worked on the Tom Muehlenbeck Center in Plano, Texas, worked hard to preserve an existing wetland creek, making the creek an integral part of the design that keeps people connected with the natural aspects of the site. The Brampton Soccer Centre in Brampton, Ontario, incorporates sustainable principles throughout. The Carmel Clay Central Park's Monon Center in Carmel, Ind., was conceived as a model of sustainability, with state-of-the-art energy management systems, the use of green materials in construction and a sensitivity to the natural setting. The Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo., employs daylight modeling along with dimming controllers to ensure that most spaces require very little artificial lighting. The Zeeland Natatorium in Zeeland, Mich., adapts many sustainable practices, and perhaps most notably makes use of geothermal energy. And the designers of the David Wenzel Treehouse at Nay Aug Park in Scranton, Pa., took great care to protect the trees involved, while the end result gets patrons of all abilities up close and personal with the natural beauty of the park.

And it doesn't stop there. The green mission continues with our Editor's Choice award winner, chosen not only for its creative approach to funding and getting everyone involved, but also for the "Wow" we felt when we looked at the "before" pictures of the site—an old canning factory that was a blight on the community as well as the environment.

From here, the green theme continues to weave its way through the highlighted facilities that appear on pages 47 to 56.

Throughout all of our awards entries this year, designers, owners and their teams went beyond the now-ubiquitous open spaces and ample natural lighting to include innovative and sustainable approaches to design.

Thanks to all who submitted their entries this year. Thanks to all of you who are making the green mission a part of your facilities and your programming. We look forward to seeing this trend continue to take hold!


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director
Recreation Management


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