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.

Read Time: 2 minutes

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

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