Don’t believe that energy security is linked to the environment?… Tree shaded homes use 30-50% less energy.
Urban forestry is simply about trees in places where people live.
Ultimately, conservation is about empowering citizens to improve the communities where they live and work. The Alliance for Community Trees is the only national organization working to improve the urban forests where 80% of Americans live- our cities, towns, and villages. ACT’s national office assembles coalitions that drive broad environmental success for our more than 180 organizations in 41 states in the pursuit of Clean Air, Green Streets, and Healthy Neighborhoods.
In dozens of cities across the United States, increasing urban tree cover has generated $2-5 in savings for every dollar invested in tree planting. Trees lower temperatures through shade, the cooling effects of which can save millions of energy dollars. Even on a residential level, just 3-4 shade trees located strategically around a house can cut summer cooling costs by 30-50%. Multiplied by one million trees, that’s $10 million in energy savings.
Did you know that tree cover on private property and on newly-developed land has declined since the 1970s, all while emissions from transportation and industry have been rising? Integrating energy and environmental planning in homes, the workplace, and transportation provides one of the most immediate and valuable solutions to the energy crisis.
Shade trees also produce significant clean air benefits. Every 100 large trees removes about 200 pounds of particulate matter, 300 pounds of ozone, and five tons of carbon dioxide from the air each year.
As air temperatures rise, so does the demand for air-conditioning. This leads to higher emissions from power plants, as well as increased smog formation as a result of warmer temperatures. In the United States, this increase in air temperature is responsible for 5-10% of urban peak electric demand for A/C use, and as much as 20% of population-weighted smog concentrations in urban areas. Today, the utility sector is already the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, producing approximately one-third of the country’s emissions.
Heating and cooling homes accounts for nearly 60% of residential electricity usage in the United States. Luckily, energy improvements are as simple as planting trees. Researchers at the USDA Forest Service (Greg McPherson) and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory support what you already know: that tree shaded homes are more energy efficient and that energy security is linked to the environment.
Energy Efficiency Through Trees Act
ACT is working with Congresswoman Matsui (D-CA) to create a program in the Department of Energy (DOE) to help utilities and nonprofit organizations plant shade trees for energy efficiency. Modeled after Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s successful partnership with Sacramento Tree Foundation, Rep. Matsui’s Energy Efficiency Through Trees Act provides focused support from DOE to plant trees in locations where direct energy savings can be achieved. This legislation assists, on a voluntary basis, utility companies to partner with their local tree groups to develop substantial tree planting and educational programs that give back to the residential users, save on utility usage and costs, and address climate change. This bill is a win-win proposition for all and an immediate pay-back to the energy efficiency debate.
At this moment, the nation wants action to secure real energy security, action that goes beyond buzzwords such as green and sustainable. Healthy urban forests are key to helping our growing cities and towns to address climate concerns.
Find Out More:
Trees and Cool Cities
Trees and Climate Change
The Alliance for Community Trees is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization (EIN # 68-0319301), and also participates in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC # 12402). To discuss planned giving opportunities, call us at 301-277-0040.