Schools to kick sustainability goals with sports surface upgrades

Paul Eyers
Paul Eyers

Aussie schools are helping to reduce our environmental footprint one playing field at a time, with education facilities making a tactical shift towards more sustainable sports surfaces.

As the end of the 2023 academic calendar fast approaches, schools across Australia are preparing for a typical summer of renovations and upgrades.

However, a notable change in priorities has emerged over recent years, with innovation and sustainability now paramount when upgrading school sports departments.

Brighton Grammar School

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Brighton Grammar School in Melbourne is an exemplary case of a school employing sustainable practices in sports facility reconstruction. Its facilities, such as its FIFA-standard artificial turf soccer pitch, are designed to reduce waste and environmental impact.

The use of advanced technologies to incorporate recycled materials for surfaces, such as recycled rubbers, makes it safer for students while simultaneously reusing waste products.

And now, thanks to the first-ever turf recycling facility in far-north Victoria, Brighton Grammar and other schools can recycle their artificial pitch at the end of its useable life instead of going to landfill, creating a circular economy in the sports surface industry.

Geelong College

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Geelong College’s new synthetic hockey pitch is another impressive example. The school uses a sustainable shock pad made from recycled materials underneath their new artificial turf to demonstrate the possibilities of combining athletics with environmental responsibility.

Another aspect of sustainability is durability. At Geelong College, the artificial surfaces are designed to withstand intense usage and are more durable than natural grass pitches, which tend to wear out quickly.

The University of Queensland

The University of Queensland’s 2020 construction of a synthetic rugby field incorporates a subsurface water collection system, which collects and reuses rainwater, promoting water conservation.

This approach provides a cost-effective way to tackle the country’s harsh climate, with the water-saving aspect of artificial turf a critical solution in drought conditions.

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Community Partnerships

In addition, schools are taking more proactive steps to partner with sustainability-focused facilities as part of their off-campus sports programs, such as Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, which incorporates a solar heating system for the pool to cut down on traditional energy sources.

The future of school sports facilities

As schools close for the summer, current trends predict that more education facilities will follow suit, ensuring sports facility renovations are constructed with the environment and sustainability in mind.

This sustainable-focused approach is part of a larger societal shift as Aussies reconsider how we design, build and maintain our spaces to fulfil the nation’s net-zero by 2050 carbon emissions target.

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Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with a singular perspective on the world.