Call it a green tech concept whose time has come. Every day, all across the developing world, green-minded parents fret over the amount of electricity their kids’ toys suck up, and every day, they nag their kids to get out from behind that bleeping, blinking, oh-so-hypnotic box, and out into the real world to play. Increasingly, we’re seeing innovative playground designs that not only do their part in keeping kids fit and trim, but in making up for a little of the increasing carbon footprint of the average  21st century kid.

A key concept here is kinetic energy — every time we walk, run, or even move our fingers across a keyboard, a certain amount of energy is lost that could be put to work in keeping the lights on and the iPhone juiced. And while the science is hardly new, it would appear that kinetic energy tech is finally about to have its day, as IBM recently named named it one of the five innovations it thinks will have the biggest impact on society over the next five years. The green gym has been around for a while (and may, in fact, be coming to an athletic center near you), but kinetic energy playgrounds are just now starting to emerge in green building and landscape designs.

Put that together with a focus on renewable energy generation, and you’ve got playgrounds that not only give kids an outlet for their (seemingly endless) energies, but produce some juice in the process.

Interested? Here are five innovative playground designs that may spell the future of recess.


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