New study shows urban trees save $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs per year

urban trees

Urban trees – is there nothing they can’t do? As well as cleaning the air and guarding against soil erosion, they also help cities reduce costs and emissions by providing shade and blocking strong winds against buildings.

A new study from a group of USDA Forest Service scientists published in ‘Urban Forestry and Urban Greenery’ estimates the US supply of urban trees saves close to $7.8 billion in reduced energy costs (electricity and heating) each year. They also result in a cut to emissions valued at $3.9 billion annually.

The researchers wrote, “There is much literature on tree effects on building energy use, but limited estimates at the national scale. There have been national estimates of energy savings from proposed plantings of millions of trees … but none could be found estimating the effects of the current urban forest.”

The big takeaway is not just to plant more urban trees, but to plant them strategically.

According to the study, “Tree size, species (evergreen vs. deciduous), and tree distance and direction from the building all affect building energy use. While results vary by climate zone, in general, large trees to the west side of the building provide the greatest average reduction in cooling energy savings and large trees to the south side tend to lead to the greatest increase in winter energy use.”

Discover more about innovative urban tree solutions here.

Source: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-study-urban-trees-save-energy

Foundation announces landscape architects for Chicago Library grounds

landscape architects for Chicago Library

In exciting news, the Obama Foundation recently announced the team of landscape architects that will design the grounds around the Chicago library and museum in Jackson Park. New York-based Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has been appointed as lead designer, with Chicago’s Site Design Group and Living Habitats acting as design partners.

Michael Van Valkenburgh said, “Together with Site Design Group and Living Habitats and, of course, with TWBTA [Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects] and InterActive Design, we are committed to creating an OPC that honors the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and at the same time is accessible, inspirational and joyful.”

Having worked on a number of high-profile projects in Chicago in recent years, the firm is known for creating themed public spaces with whimsical elements – including the Maggie Daley Park, The 606 trial, and a new Streeterville park at the base of the One Bennett Park high-rise.

Stay tuned for the first look at the proposed design of the complex, which is sure to create a stir.

Discover more about innovative urban landscape solutions used by landscape architects here.

Source: http://chicago.curbed.com/2017/1/30/14441364/obama-library-chicago-landscape-architects

Perth councils take action to stop 90% of trees dying before maturation

trees dying before maturation

In a frightening statistic, more than 90% of trees planted by Perth councils in an attempt to cool hot suburbs will die before maturing. The three main causes of death include:

  1. Defective root systems, due to gradual changes in nursery technologies over the past 50 years
  2. The practice of ‘hydrozoning’, a watering technique used in parks and reserves which prioritises turf and recreational areas over trees
  3. Increasing infill and resulting ‘hardscaping’ which has led to a decrease in soil quality

Recognising the seriousness of this mortality rate, Perth councils are pouring cash into greening, and slight adjustments have been made which will hopefully achieve big results.

Standards Australia has this year released a new Australian Standard aiming to improve the quality of root health in trees. Hydrozoning plans must also be adapted to better care for trees, and lastly soil health must be improved with planning for trees occurring at the same time as planning for infrastructure, allowing for the required volume and quality of soil (mindful of Perth’s already sandy soil).

Arbor Centre Principal, Rob Bodenstaff, said, “You need to engineer in a tree, not expect it to tolerate everything else we do. We do have solutions to all this stuff. It’s not high-level science … you can drought-proof trees and suburbs. Within the same budget we could get far better outcomes. If nothing happens, we’ll have constant celebration of trees being planted and the constant disappointment of realising they have failed.”[1]

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

[1] http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/nine-in-10-trees-planted-by-perth-councils-will-never-mature-expert-20151201-glcnjm.html

San Diego fights climate change with urban trees

climate change with urban trees

Earlier this month, San Diego officials began a fight back against climate change, planting 500 street trees in urban neighbourhoods to boost the city’s tree canopy and meet some of their ambitious climate action plan goals. The trees, planted along Market Street, Imperial Avenue, Ocean View Boulevard, 25th Street and 47th Street, are projected to collectively capture approximately seven million pounds of carbon during their lifespans.

“When we plant more trees, we are making our neighborhoods greener and our air cleaner,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “Every additional tree gets us a step closer to reaching our goal of creating a sustainable future for generations of San Diegans.”[1]

The trees are being funded by a $750,000 grant from the California Department of Forestry. The grant also covers hiring consultants to conduct a citywide inventory of all street trees and to use lasers to determine the city’s tree canopy. This laser survey found canopy coverage has increased from the previous estimate of 6.8% up to 13%, putting the city much closer to meeting its goal of 15% by 2020.

“Trees are incredible multi-taskers and provide so many environmental benefits like sequestering carbon dioxide, capturing storm water, reducing energy costs, extending the life of pavement, increasing property values and providing habitat for wildlife,” said Jeremy Barrick, the city’s urban forestry program manager. “We need everyone to water and maintain the trees we have and plant new trees where appropriate.”[2]

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

[1] http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-government-1202-story.html

[2] http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/politics/sd-me-government-1202-story.html

Melbourne laneways set to go green

Coromandel Place, Guildford Lane, Katherine Place, and Meyers Place in Melbourne are set to go green as part of the ‘Green Your Laneway’ pilot project by the City of Melbourne.  With over 200 laneways in central Melbourne, totalling nearly 9 hectares, the Green Your Laneway program aims to transform the city’s laneways into relaxing places to sit and enjoy, full of leafy, green spaces with vertical gardens and new trees.

The Green Your Laneway pilot project argues that laneways should be greened for the following reasons:

  • Providing shading and local cooling
  • Improved aesthetics and local amenity
  • Ecological benefits
  • Health and wellbeing flow on effects
  • Increasing landscape permeability (and hence flood mitigation and passive watering)
  • Creating opportunities for relaxation and recreation

Working closely with residents and businesses, preliminary concept designs have been released for the four selected laneways showing a range of greening options that can be considered for each laneway. The concepts will be refined with further community engagement, and funded by the City of Melbourne.

The public is invited to share their views by exploring the initial designs and providing feedback on the Green Your Laneway site.

To find out more about the latest in vertical garden technology, click here.

Source:

https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/melbourne-lanes-to-go-green/

Urban trees gain second life as sustainable furniture

urban trees

The benefits of urban trees are well established – from improving mental health, increasing property values, storing carbon, and absorbing rainfall. But, what happens to them when they eventually succumb to disease, urban development, weather, or old age? Traditionally, they are ground up and sent to the tip.

In New Jersey, brothers Ted and Zeb Esselstyn, are giving urban trees a second life – creating furniture and wall art from felled urban trees and selling them via their business, City Bench. “Urban wood is a seriously un-utilized resource in our country’s metropolitan areas,” says Zeb. “The city of New Haven probably takes down around 700 trees a year. We don’t have the capacity to take them all, but we do salvage and mill a lot of them.”

Sawmills generally decline to reuse urban trees for lumber, due to their wear and tear. Ted says, “We hit metal on a majority of the trees we mill, from bullets to electric cables to nails. We revel in it. The beat-up quality is what gives the wood character.”

Touchingly, their main business comes from individuals who have lost beloved trees on their property. Ted says, “We’ve had clients weeping in front of us about the loss. We soften the blow by letting the trees continue to live.”

Source:

http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2016/11/crafting-furniture-from-city-trees/507590/

New trees for Melbourne in response to climate change

trees in response to climate change

Climate change is undeniable with rising temperatures and drier conditions causing many of Melbourne’s established elm and plane trees to struggle. Melbourne City Council and Melbourne University recently teamed up, releasing a report advising which trees to plant to better cope with climate change.

Dr Dave Kendal studied tree inventories from 200 countries and selected 875 species suitable for warmer temperatures and sub-tropical climates. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said the council commissioned the study after a startling discovery was made when scientists studied temperatures across Melbourne’s greater metropolitan area. “We found that the centre of the city is 5 degrees Celsius hotter than the outskirts,” Cr Doyle said.

In a bid to cool down Melbourne, 3000 new trees have been planted each year since 2012. With this new insight, council will focus on diversifying the urban forest, introducing Australian native species that thrive in sunny, warm climates such as hoop pines, Queensland brush boxes, and Moreton Bay figs. New exotic tree species that cope with warm temperatures and droughts, such as the Algerian Oak, and flowering tree species, will also be planted.

The city’s urban forest strategy costs $1.5 million each year, but Cr Doyle said it was a worthwhile investment. “We are doing a 100 years policy, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will enjoy the urban forest of Melbourne just like we have,” he said.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Source:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-17/melbourne-gets-a-tree-change-in-readiness-for-a-hotter-climate/8035270

Should Australian golf courses be turned into urban forests?

urban forests

If you’re an avid golfer, then look away – because you probably won’t be too keen on this idea! Nevertheless, when it comes to expanding our urban forests, golf courses seem an obvious and inevitable target. Consisting of huge areas of open green space used by a relatively small number of players, golf courses could be transformed into multi-purpose urban forests that benefit many more residents.

One such example is The City of Botany, which is currently proposing that the 18-hole Eastlakes golf course on land owned by Sydney Water be turned into 65 hectares of parkland. The mayor, Ray Kenneally, told The Sydney Morning Herald, “With urban consolidation and the desire of more and more people to live closer to the CBD, there is an increasing population that wants places to enjoy Sydney’s great beauty. The Botany wetlands are beautiful, but they are a hidden gem. They’ve been locked up inside these golf courses and inside industrial estates. We now know communities value these great ponds and lakes and the social and environmental heritage they contain, and they would love better access to them.”

In Melbourne, there are 90 golf courses in the metropolitan area, with 10 along the Yarra River alone. It’s reasonable to ask if there are better uses for these extensive areas of urban land, such as returning them to native forest or, in the least, sharing them with non-golfers via the construction of public cycling or walking trails.

Unfortunately, many courses are privately owned or under long-term leases, making this a difficult idea to action. With the importance of urban forests now clear to see though, it’s well worth considering as a means of expanding the accessibility of precious green urban spaces for the benefit of all.

Learn more about innovative tree solutions for urban forests here.

Sources:

https://www.crikey.com.au/2016/08/03/melbourne-golf-courses-turned-urban-forests/

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