It seems like almost every community has a skate park–a place for the youngins’ to go, try out some sick tricks, and hang out with friends. City officials like them because they keep kids off the streets, and kids like them because they provide an adult-free haven where kids can be on their own. But despite their appeal, skate parks are basically empty swimming pools, made almost entirely out of concrete, and do nothing to reduce urban heat island effect or filter stormwater. Now, however, skate park designers are starting to incorporate greener features and nature into their designs. Read on to see how projects like the Ed Benedict Skate Plaza in Portland, Oregon are leading the charge.

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Designed by New Line Skateparks and built by California Skateparks the 16,000 sq foot park isn’t just one solid mass of concrete. Instead, natural elements like trees and native plants have been incorporated to help reduce stormwater runoff and filter it back into the ground. Granted, the skate park probably has less concrete and surface area than the neighboring parking lot, but it’s cool to see designers incorporating elements of sustainability, especially in a rainy environment like Portland.

Ed Benedict isn’t the first green skate park in the nation though. That honor goes to the Green Skate Lab in Washington DC, which was hand built by local volunteers out of rammed earth and recycled tires found in National Parks, abandoned lots, and the Potomac River Watershed. Ed Benedict can claim to be the first green skate park in the Pacific Northwest, though, and is the first to make use of bio filtration islands in the center of the park for stormwater runoff.

Despite the large amount of concrete used to build the surfaces, ramps, ledges, and banks, the park is vastly greener than most. Local skater and artist, Dan Garland, also helped design some sculptural elements–cutouts, stamps like “Tread Lightly,” and rocks. Trees aren’t typically included in parks either, but they abound at Ed Benedict where fully grown perennials will help provide shade for skaters. Let’s just hope they’re riding bamboo skateboards.

Photos courtesy of Chad Balcom,,, and California Skate Parks

+ New Line Skateparks

+ California Skateparks

Via New York Times