Shade sails installed by Versatile Structures in the Noosa Botanical Gardens

Shade structures and sustainability

 Jamie Howard      In ,

Shade structures are essentially produced with the purpose of providing shade and reducing UV radiation. This means they have an underlying environmental purpose at their core.

Shade structure specialists follow environmentally friendly practices like using water-based coatings, re-using waste products, and recycling shade substrates. In fact, it is possible to recycle the entire shade structure from the steelwork and fixings to the fabric. As most membranes are easy to remove, they are widely recycled across the globe and shade structure specialists rely heavily on the textile industry’s manufacturer-supported recycling process.

In addition, shade structures also contribute to the sustainability, as they offer energy advantages over brick, metal, or glass

  • They are light weight as they are made with less raw materials,
  • Provide passive cooling benefits for both indoors areas and outdoors,
  • Provide natural light as translucent fabrics reduce reliance on artificial lighting,
  • Provide cooling from natural heat reflecting properties of fabrics,
  • And have no ongoing operating costs.

The Environment

Most shade structure installers take in consideration what impact a new structure that is being erected will have on the environment. These environmental considerations include factors like the site heritage, preservation of trees, preventing erosion, preserving diversity of the ecology, containment of water, and so much more. An award-winning example of the various environmental aspects that had to be considered is the shade structure erected in the Noosa Botanical Gardens.

Minimising the environmental impact is vital to an experienced installer and it’s quick to spot good installers, as they start their environmental and safety reviews at the planning, development and design stages – before a single post has been erected.


Some of the benefits of shade sails and structures include

  • Minimise exposure to the sun’s harmful UVR rays
  • Reduce energy consumption of resources like artificial lighting, heating, and air conditioning
  • Cool down areas as the structure allows air to pass through, keeping the area underneath cooler
  • Increase the comfort level as it is forms a protective barrier from wind, dust, rain, or snow which make them ideal for undercover parking
  • Protect everything that is underneath like cars, furniture, and people

In essence shade structures are a great solution to live more sustainably, reducing your footprint and assisting in using less building materials to achieve the same outcome. Instead of building a garage, a cheaper and less resource intensive option is a car port.


  • Versatile Structures Headshots

    Jamie Howard - Director

    Co-founder and Director Jamie has been hands-on in the shade and steel industry since leaving school. With over 15 years’ experience in shade, membrane and steel projects, Jamie is excited about the design opportunities shade structures offer in the commercial and industrial sectors. Jamie’s extensive design skills give him a competitive edge in situations with technical design complexity. He has won two personal industry awards for his designs, alongside many company-won awards.