Arizona PBS highlights sustainability scientists' work in hot playgrounds and green buildings

Woman taking a picture with a cameraTwo new segments of “Catalyst” by Arizona PBS, in the episode released March 20, feature Senior Sustainability Scientists in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability: Jenni Vanos and Harvey Bryan. Hot playgrounds and microclimates The “Hot playgrounds and microclimates” segment discusses research studying the effects of heat and microclimates on playgrounds and the corresponding activity of children playing there. "What we see in our modern playgrounds is that there's very little shade — especially natural shade in trees — and if we do put in shade, it's not really covering the equipment or the areas that we want it to cover,” said Jenni Vanos, a School of Sustainability professor who studies the interaction of weather and climate on human health. Vanos continued: “This is an important piece of information for people who are designing playgrounds, if you think about urban planners, urban designers. Knowing when it's going to be the hottest and how to angle shade so that it's providing shade on the equipment at the right times of the day, or just knowing that if you use this surface rather than wood chips, you're potentially putting children at risk for second or third degree burns.” In hot places such as Phoenix, designing playgrounds more consciously could not only prevent overheating, radiation exposure or burns, but could also help children get the physical activity they need. Green Buildings The “Green buildings” segment discusses the importance of designing buildings to reduce resources and energy use, taking into consideration the building’s location and surrounding natural environment. “About 50 percent of all the energy generated in the United States go to the buildings — either the construction of buildings or the occupancy of buildings,” said Harvey Bryan, a professor in The Design School, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. “What green building is trying to do is minimize the impact of resource and energy uses that we have in the building sector in this country.” Bryan also discussed the new technologies being integrated into green buildings in Arizona, including at Arizona State University.