The Heights

Updated: December 19, 2016


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Organic field turf made from the cork oak tree provides healthier stadium playing experience

Before brown is the new green became the campus drought-era motto, Foothill established water-saving, year-round artificial turf for our football stadium field. While it was a more sustainable solution than grass from a water-use perspective, at the time, it was a rubber-based material. When the time came last year to replace the turf, which occurs every 10 years, an organic product was selected, taking our sustainability efforts and responsibility for players' health up a notch.

"There were many concerns being raised regarding rubber- and synthetic-based fields," explains Susan Traynor, who manages Foothill's rental of the stadium to community groups. “This new material is good for athletes and the environment.” 

The new field, made by FieldTurf, contains PureFill, an all natural, 100-percent organic infill. It is a recyclable and fully sustainable product that is harvested from the cork oak tree every nine years, without harming the trees.

“For athletes, the temperature is cooler. And breathing in chemicals that were potentially carcinogenic is not a worry anymore," she says. "Also there are no longer tiny particles of black rubber to be found around the field and surrounding areas, not to mention what athletes carry home in their clothes. Instead, a light brown, dirt-like colored cork is used."

The cork is a good temperature neutralizer as it does not hold heat, which is evident if you were to pick up a handful of the old synthetic fill versus the new organic cork, says Traynor.

Foothill was one of the first educational institutions in the Bay Area to go with the organic option, along with neighboring Saratoga High School.

Rental clients using the field range from local high schools to soccer clubs, including teams with young and more middle-aged players.

“Since the change to the organic substance, the rental groups have commented that Foothill's is the best field around,” Traynor says. “I have had clients renew their contracts because it is easier on their bodies, both in temperature and in springiness. Rentals among teams with middle-aged players have increased, too.”

Foothill offers rental of most campus facilities when they are not being used for classes and activities, including the large dining hall, two theatres, fine arts classrooms, athletic gyms, swimming pool and fields, and other outdoor spaces. To learn more, visit our facilities rental website.

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