No Fault Project Spotlight – Acadian & DF Huddle Elementary School Playgrounds, Alexandria, Louisiana

Little Tikes Commercial and No Fault always make a great Team!  Hahn Enterprises, Inc. (Tania Hahn) designed and installed four playgrounds in less than five weeks in Alexandria, Louisiana!  No Fault worked alongside to provide and install our No Fault Safety Surface for these play areas at Acadian Elementary School and DF Huddle Elementary School.

The Rapides Parish School Board recently received funding for new playground equipment and rubber safety surfacing at two schools in Alexandria…with one obstacle: timing.  The playgrounds had to be completed before the end of their fiscal year in June.

Hahn Enterprises was charged with the task of designing the playgrounds to keep them age appropriate, within budget, and full of fun!  The contract was awarded to Hahn in mid-March, and by the end of April, all work had been completed.

Acadian Elementary School Playgrounds 

No Fault Safety Surface was installed for two playground areas in vivid colors of blue and green.  If you look closely, you’ll see “Calvin the Caterpillar” (in green) and “Harry the Hippo” (in blue)!  These two characters are quite popular with the children!

DF Huddle Elementary School Playgrounds

No Fault’s poured-in-place rubber surface has been a big hit with the children at both schools.

The children at both Acadian E.S. and DF Huddle E.S. were able to enjoy their new playgrounds at the end of the school year 2019.  Regarding the teamwork of Hahn Enterprises and No Fault, Tonya Normand (Principal at DF Huddle Elementary School) stated, “I’m MORE than HAPPY with the installation and clean up.  Your crew was very professional and efficient!  Again, thank you!”

This is a great project that came in on budget, on time, with lots of smiling faces to show for it!  What more could a customer ask for?

No Fault would love to assist you with choosing the right rubber or synthetic turf safety surfacing for your new school or park playground.  We partner with Playground Equipment Reps throughout the country like Little Tikes, Miracle Recreation, Playworld and more who can provide state-of-the-art play equipment. Contact us today for more information.

Playground Safety Meets Environmental Safety: No Fault’s ‘Green’ Philosophy

While we have always been proud of the work we do to keep children safe during play at No Fault, we are also pleased with the role we play in helping to preserve the environment.

You already know that by using No Fault products you achieve your safety goals, allowing kids to play while reducing the risk of serious injury.

But, did you know you that by using our surfacing you are partnering with a company that has incorporated “green” technology into our products since our inception in 1974?

Almost all of our products contain some amount of recycled materials, including a few which are completely comprised of recycled materials. Today, we will talk about how our industry is “going green” and the ways No Fault can help your organization be more environmentally aware. 

LEED-ing The Way in Green Manufacturing

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a nonprofit organization committed to sustainability through energy-saving green construction. The USGBC transforms the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated. It enables an eco-friendly, socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.

The USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. LEED was created to recognize environmental leadership and raise consumer awareness of green building and sustainability.

As more organizations adopt green building philosophies, LEED certification is becoming increasingly important. LEED applies to the environmental performance of all aspects of a building or project, including playgrounds.

Your commercial playground manufacturer likely uses materials that have the lowest possible impact on the environment. Building standards like USGBC’s LEED help us achieve this goal.

Credits Where Credits Are Due

Playground safety products can help architects and designers earn points toward LEED certification. And here’s the good news: Most No Fault products are eligible for LEED credits!

Companies are now incentivized to use “green” materials to receive tax benefits. Products themselves are not LEED certified, but many products can help a building project qualify under the LEED rating system.

The entire purpose of LEED credits is to increase the demand for building products that incorporate recycled content, thereby decreasing the negative effects of the manufacturing process.

No Fault is proud to offer an array of surfacing that helps customers qualify for these credits. Currently, our products qualify under credit numbers MR 4, MR 4.1-4.2 and EQ 4.1. Our No Fault Safety Surfacing, for example, can help contribute to LEED in a variety of areas, including recycled content and heat island reduction.

No Fault’s Role in Sustainability

Over the years, No Fault has kept millions of tires from landfills. A term you will see several times on this website is: “100% recycled tire rubber.”

The more pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled content we use, the more we help keep existing materials in a continuous cycle of use and reuse – without compromising quality, durability, and performance.

To clarify, here are a couple of definitions:

Pre-consumer recycled content refers to the recycling of scraps, trimmings, and other by-products that were produced by manufacturers and processors and never used in the consumer market.

Post-consumer recycled content refers to recycled products that have been used in the consumer market and would be disposed of as waste. They are collected in recycling programs and include such items as paper, aluminum cans, plastic bottles and tires.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has endorsed the use of recycled rubber to cushion the surfaces of children’s playgrounds. Since our No Fault Rubber Mulch, for example, is manufactured from 100 percent recycled tire rubber, it is considered an environmentally sustainable product.

While No Fault’s main purpose is to protect the safety of children on playgrounds, we are equally proud of our efforts over the years to protect the environment. As No Fault continues to grow, so will our efforts to maintain that commitment.

Conclusion

Is your organization pursuing LEED certification? Are you looking for every LEED point you can get?  If so, No Fault can help!

Building “green” has always been an important aspect of No Fault’s business. In fact, we followed environmental standards before there were any!

No Fault works with businesses, communities, and schools to provide a clean and safe place to play locally while thinking globally. As our business grows, so does our expanding impact on the environment.

That mantra guides No Fault’s commitment to the safety of children, their future and the environment in which they live. Contact us today to speak with a representative. We’ll help you meet the ever-changing demands of being an environmentally conscious owner, operator, contractor, or community leader.

A Historical Look at Playgrounds & Playground Safety

Playgrounds have been around in the United States for more than 130 years, and throughout the years, they have changed significantly (for the better).

From materials to safety precautions and child development considerations, here are some ways that American playgrounds have evolved over the years to captivate new generations of children.

Old World Beginnings

Playgrounds originated in 1885 in Germany and were introduced by philosopher and educator Friedrich Fröbel, who also came up with the concept for kindergarten.

Psychologists and educators in America soon saw the value of Fröbel’s ideas to foster healthy development in children, and the first “playgrounds” in the United States appeared in the 1880s.

To be honest, these “playgrounds” were little more than boxes of sand in lots adjacent to multi-family dwellings. They were also fairly rare for a while. Seeing one in your neighborhood back then was a lucky treat!

As large metropolitan areas developed, city planners saw the value of adding free playgrounds in order to keep kids off the streets and to develop their physical health and socialization skills.

The Rise of the Modern Playground

Playgrounds remained uncommon in public spaces until the turn of the 20th century. In the early 1900s, The Playground Association of America was formed to help guide the construction, layout, and conduct of playgrounds. Early playgrounds often had “boys” or “girls” sections, as well as instructions to guide children in organized activities.

Interesting fact: In 1909, 336 cities had just 1,535 playgrounds (about 3 per city). Fast forward to 1948, and 1,917 cities had 13,520 playgrounds (averaging 7 per city). That’s an increase of over 800% in less than 40 years! (Source: Butler, George D. Pioneers in Public Recreation.)

Today’s parents and city planners understand the value of having a playground nearby to encourage exercise, imaginative play, and physical and mental stimulation. We also know the importance for children to direct their own play. Odds are you now have a playground within a few blocks of your home that is regularly used by all the children in the neighborhood.

The Road to Safer Construction

More than 100 years ago, the options for constructing a playground were limited. Common construction materials included galvanized steel pipes, chains, and metal ladders. Early playgrounds also included metal merry-go-rounds, see-saws, steep slides, and sharp corners.

In the 1950s and 1960s, it was even common to refurbish ‘old’ items such as rusted-out automobiles, discarded industrial scaffolding, etc. for constructing playgrounds.

Doesn’t sound all that safe, does it?

Gradually, the materials and construction of playgrounds changed with advances in technology and science. Metal gave way to wood, which then gave way to plastic. Today’s playground equipment features molded plastic and composite materials that are not only safer but also retain structural integrity when exposed to the elements of hot summers and cold winters.

Of course, you will still find modified versions of old favorites like chain swings and metal slides, but they are modified to be safer for children to use, meaning fewer burned hands, fewer cuts from sharp edges, and fewer splinters.

A Shift to Mental Development

The first playgrounds encouraged children to use their imaginations. They imaginatively built cities, roads, bridges, and dams. Children were also encouraged to play strategy games with each other like tag, red rover, and hide-n-seek.

Once physical structures were introduced, playgrounds become more focused on physical play (running, jumping, and sliding). As equipment became more popular, the purpose of playgrounds shifted to the development of gross motor skills, agility, and encouragement of physical activity for healthier bodies.

Recent years have seen a return of playground games that help children use focus on mental and physical development; games like tic-tac-toe, four square, mazes, and hide and seek are being implemented in playground design. Modern playgrounds help children use their reasoning skills, providing a place for them to interact with peers to develop physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. These days we understand that outdoor play on playgrounds or unstructured play with other children helps children with motor skills, balance, problem-solving skills, social skills, self-esteem, and more.

Playground planners are not neglecting the physical aspect, however. They are also including more features that use finer motor skills, such as rock climbing walls, balance beams, and rope ladders. The final product is a playground that fosters a more complete sense of health and well-being.

The Rise of ‘Risk Aversion’

The association of risk of injury as it relates to playgrounds saw a rise in the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s, programs were formed focusing on the “risk” of playground injuries from unsafe surfaces. Along with an increase in injury-related lawsuits, many city planners wanted to find ways to make playgrounds “risk-proof.”

Of course, many children’s activities present some risk of injury or accident. Although considered “safer” by many parents, sports like swimming and soccer actually have a higher risk of injury over playing on a playground.

New studies show that risk-averse parenting, educating, and even playground development might not be best for children. Keeping kids home or inside in the hope of keeping them “safe” is part of the rise of childhood obesity and childhood diabetes. Indoor activities such as television, video games, and other technological advancements also contribute to the desocialization of children. The need to protect our children by keeping them indoors may be contributing to not only a decrease in physical development but also the mental development needed to become successful adults.

Playgrounds really are a necessity when it comes to our children’s health. Playing outside is healthy, helps kids develop mentally and physically, and can set them up for healthy habits as they become adults. If you think back on your own childhood, likely many of your memories and development stem from your time on the playground.

The call to increase safety on playgrounds has been heard since they first became commonplace. Over time, the materials and designs of playgrounds have changed dramatically in order to make them safer—from pea gravel to bark mulch to products like rubber tiles, bonded rubber mulch, and poured-in-place rubber surface. Today, playing on a playground with a rubber surface is a comparatively safe outdoor activity. The real question is about finding the right balance between playground safety and fun.

Safer Surfacing Materials Mean Better Playgrounds

One very noticeable change in playground construction is the various types of materials used for fall protection. The first play structures erected were on hard ground such as soil or blacktops, but soon planners realized that some type of material was needed to absorb the impact of falls or landings.

Sand was one of the first materials used, as it was affordable and readily available. But soon planners realized that wet sand can be just as hard. Something safer was needed!

“Loose fill” materials such as wood chips and pea gravel became common surfacing choice. They protected children with varying degrees of success, but still pose problems such as splinters or children placing the gravel in their mouths, noses, and ears. Also, as playgrounds strive to be more inclusive to children and adults with mobility restrictions, playgrounds have evolved to use yielding, yet firm materials that are less likely to splinter, less likely to be loose for consumption, and more easily accessible by wheelchairs and mobility devices including bonded rubber, rubber tiles and poured rubber surface.

Many playgrounds now use rubber safety surfacing to absorb impact and prevent injury. Rubber-surfaced playgrounds offer the best of both worlds: fun and safety. This generates some peace of mind for parents. The result is a playground that is more in tune with the needs of children of all abilities.

What’s next for Playgrounds?

The world of playground design is constantly evolving. New materials and product developments have made playgrounds safer through bonded rubber mulch, rubber tiles, and poured-in-place rubber playground surfaces. Fortunately, No Fault products continue to evolve along with the world of playground design.

Don’t let playgrounds become relics simply for the sake of preventing a (statistically low) injury. Encourage safe play and get involved with the community to discuss the use of safe surfaces such as No Fault Safety Surface, No Fault Safety Tiles and No Fault Rubber Mulch.

For more information on our best-in-class safety surfacing products, please check out our website. Or contact No Fault today to learn what’s in store for the playgrounds of tomorrow. Perhaps we can help you with your next project!