Tree Planting to Save Energy - Western Resource Advocates:
Designing Community Tree Planting Programs for Energy Conservation
Energy savings can grow in your yard! A report by Western Resource Advocates explores the substantial energy savings that can be reaped, and the increased quality of life obtained, by planting shade trees to shelter houses from summer heat. Through coordinated urban treeplanting programs, electrical utilities can benefit from substantial reductions in electricity demand, especially from mid-day peak loads. This report demonstrates that tree planting can be a very viable tool for reducing electricity demand.
The report, 'Phoenix Green: Designing a Community Tree Planting Program for Phoenix, Arizona' lays out how southwestern cities can design a tree planting program that can effectively cut domestic and industrial cooling costs. The benefits are extensive and the costs reasonable to implement such a plan.
As unshaded and paved surfaces proliferate in fast growing southwestern cities, a phenomenon called the 'urban heat island effect' is creating climates in cities that are even hotter than the surrounding deserts. Trees are an efficient method of mitigating the urban heating effect. At present, Phoenix has less than an estimated 13% vegetative coverage of any type, when 25% coverage of trees is deemed healthy for a southwestern city. Among the benefits of tree planting are:
- Estimated electricty savings per year per mature tree shading sun-struck side of house = 214 kWh
- 3 mature tress would reduce a house’s electricity consumption by about 4.6% per year
- For each 10,000 shade trees planted, CO2 emissions from power plants would decline by 15,000 metric tons over a 30 year period
- Shade trees are cost effective energy efficiency measures (costs of shade tree program are less than utility costs for generating electricity).