Snow-free Playgrounds
Steamboat Springs CO

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Snow-free Playgrounds

With an average winter season of 166 inches of snow – almost 14 feet – the children of Steamboat Springs, Colo. are comfortable navigating the climate. However, thanks to the town’s school district, local elementary school students now have a dry place to play during recess. Strawberry Park and Soda Creek added snowmelt systems to their local school playgrounds, keeping the surfaces dry and free of snow and ice.

The system basically has the same setup as a commercial sidewalk or residential driveway snow melt system. “The difference is the fact that it’s a playground and we have applied a layer of soft material on the concrete substrate,” Pascal Ginesta, director of maintenance, operations and transportation for the Steamboat Springs School District, says. The system has its own natural gas boiler with water lines that circulate through the concrete to warm it and melt the snow and ice.

The system is activated from a sensor that detects falling snow and turns the boiler on. When the snow stops falling, the boiler turns off. That means the system only functions during snowfall, which never has a chance to accumulate. When the system was first installed, a school official at Strawberry Park Elementary turned the system off during the Christmas break. It snowed quite a bit during the holiday break and with the system off, the snow accumulated and had to be shoveled off. “That was a lesson learned,” Ginesta said. Now, the system is turned on all winter long, yet only activated during a snowfall.”

The system also provides peace of mind for the school district because it alleviates liability concerns associated with slips and falls on the snow and ice. And what do the children think? “The kids love having a dry place to play,” Ginesta says.

Project Highlights

• Two elementary school playgrounds with Uponor Snowmelt Systems
• Eliminates expense of manual snow removal
• Great for the environment: no toxic chemicals to remove snow
• Engineers: M-E Engineers, Colorado Springs
• Contractor: Aspen Grove Mechanical

Project Data

• Uponor Snow and Ice Melting System
• Multi-layer composite (MLC) tubing