The Social and Economic Benefits of Green Schoolyards

New research suggests that switching from asphalt to green, park-like schoolyards brings economic benefits in addition to public health improvements.

2 minute read

May 26, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Hopscotch squares on concrete schoolyard with basketball hoop in background

Iryna Tolmachova / Concrete schoolyard

“A new study from Trust for Public Land effectively dispels a common misconception among school administrators about the price tag of transforming asphalt-covered and treeless schoolyards into green schoolyards,” according to a press release from TPL. “The study compared the typical cost of building and maintaining a traditional ‘gray’ or asphalt-covered schoolyard in California to a ‘green’ schoolyard (replacing asphalt with more natural green space and infrastructure) over a 20-year period. While gray schoolyards had a moderately lower initial renovation cost ($2.3 million compared to $2.6 million for green schoolyards), they yielded no benefits over time, with schools continuing to sink money into resealing asphalt.” By contrast, green schoolyards bring close to $600,000 in net benefits. These include higher student attendance and staff retention, better academic performance, and savings on energy costs.

“The findings make a strong case for schools to stop wasting resources in maintaining asphalt and blacktop – surfaces that create uncomfortable and dangerously hot environments during recess on triple-digit temperature days in Los Angeles – and instead invest them in green schoolyards, which create safer, healthier learning environments for students.”

Green schoolyards can also double as community parks outside of school hours, providing critical green space in park-poor neighborhoods. “Trust for Public Land’s pilot program with the Oakland Unified School District is improving park equity in the area by bringing green schoolyards to five campuses.” In Southern California, Los Angeles Unified School District’s superintendent Alberto Carvalho has pledged to issue a plan for greening the city’s schoolyards.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Trust for Public Land

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

1 minute ago - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

1 hour ago - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

2 hours ago - Bloomberg CityLab

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.