Ed Benedict Plaza in New York Times

New York Times

Skateparks Start to Go Green

Kate Galbraith/The New York Times

The recently opened Ed Benedict skatepark in Portland, Ore., offers some unusual sights: Trees. And plants. And rocks. And dirt.

Young men jump and tumble on the concrete ramps, gliding around the small patch of nature.

“Most skateparks in Oregon don’t have, like, trees or plants,” said Diego Lopez, an 18-year-old local, as he sat on a ledge watching the action (he had rolled his ankle a few days before).

The park, he added, “looks like a real Portland spot.”

Like this one in Portland, which opened in February, a handful of skateparks around the country are built with the environment in mind. Some incorporate recycled materials, like the pioneering Green Skate Lab that opened in Washington, D.C. a few years ago and makes use of old tires.

But often, especially in rainy areas like the Pacific Northwest, the goal is better management of the water that can cascade off the concrete during a storm. The Portland park’s two “bio filtration islands” help the water to re-enter the ground more gradually.

“It’s not a massive amount of water compared to parking lots and roads,” said Kyle Dion, the president and owner of New Line Skateparks, which designed the Portland park.

Still, he added, “It’s all about finding a balance between the natural environment and the built or developed environment.” Skaters also like the “gaps and obstacles,” he noted.

Adding environmentally friendly features is not always easy. It often costs more, and “concrete isn’t the greenest thing to be involved in,” observed Colby Carter, who handles marketing for California Skateparks, which built the Portland park.

But Mr. Dion said that since the Portland park — one of his company’s first — had been built it had sparked interest elsewhere. “Now that we’ve done it, every single community is interested,” he said.

Back to recognitions