Shade is a practical, user-friendly form of sun protection.
Well-designed and positioned shade can significantly reduce UV exposure
as well as create cool, comfortable spaces for physical activity and
Shade can be natural (trees, shrubs or shadow cast from nearby
buildings), man-made or a combination of both. It can be permanent,
temporary or portable.
The ideal shade scenario
SunSmart (Cancer Council Victoria) recommends outdoor spaces include:
- sufficient shade to protect all people when the UV reaches damaging
levels (3 and above). In Victoria this is generally from September to
- shade material that offers at least 94% block-out of direct UV and minimises indirect UV
- a combination of built and natural shade. Built shade structures
provide predictable, reliable coverage, while natural shade is
aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly
- shade that is easily accessible, attractive, in good condition and regularly maintained.
Remember that shade does not provide 100% protection. Some of the sun's
UV can still reach you in the shade by reflecting off surrounding
surfaces. As a rule of thumb if you can see the sky, you are less than
fully protected so always combine shade with clothing, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.
How good is your shade?
The ideal shade scenario may not be achievable right away but the first
step is to assess the current shade and investigate how it can be
improved. A shade audit will help you determine areas where improvements
need to be made. Then you can start to explore solutions for reducing
UV exposure such as changing the way the site is used, making existing
shaded areas more appealing or embarking on a new shade development.
SunSmart's shade audit tool, Creating Effective Shade,
provides a step-by-step guide to assessing the shade needs of outdoor
spaces and for planning and developing new shade. It is ideal for use in
parks, playgrounds, sports facilities and school grounds.