Urban trees are growing faster than rural ones – but is that a good thing?

urban trees are growing faster

A newly published study, completed by researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich (TUM), concluded that urban trees can grow up to 25% faster than their rural counterparts. You’d think that’s a good thing, right?

Unfortunately, wrong. Per the study, the fast growth rate of urban trees is believed to be a direct result of climate change – specifically the heat island effect (HIE). HIE is an urban or metropolitan area that is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to human activities and causes a range of problems, including: increased heating and cooling costs, limited outdoor recreation, poor quality of life, and heat-related mortality.

In urban heat islands, higher-than-normal temperatures boost photosynthesis which cause trees and other forms of vegetation to grow faster. Sounds great, but the very temperatures that are causing urban trees to grow fast are also causing their early demise.

While findings vary within different climate zones, the research concludes that urban trees must be treated with extra care and consideration in light of this accelerated aging process, ensuring they can last the distance and continue to provide the many benefits that they deliver.

Source: https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/urban-trees-growing-faster-rural-trees

Urban trees don’t just keep us cool – they also keep us warm

urban trees

The cooling power of trees in urban areas has long been known. Now, scientists have learned that urban trees can also provide warmth by shielding homes and offices from the chill of cool winds.

A new study, published in the journal Advances in Water Resources, could help urban planners to design urban landscapes to enhance peoples’ comfort and prevent energy loss, while also improving weather forecasts by helping meteorologists predict the impact of storms on structures and pedestrians.

Marco Giometto, who wrote the paper as a civil engineering postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia (UBC), said, “Wind pressure is responsible for as much as a third of a building’s energy consumption. We were surprised to find such a dramatic decrease in wind speed. Trees act as a filter, protecting us from what’s above, that is, high wind speeds, turbulence and particulate matter.”

The scientists used remote-sensing laser technology to design a highly-detailed computer model of a Vancouver neighbourhood down to every tree, plant, and building. A computer simulation then played out how different scenarios — no trees, trees in full leaf, and bare trees — affected air flow and heat patterns on the streets and homes, and compared them against ten years of measured wind data from a nearly 100-foot tall research tower operated by the university in the same Vancouver neighbourhood.

The researchers found that removing all the trees could increase wind speed by a factor of two, “which would make a noticeable difference to someone walking down the street,” Giometto said. Secondly, the scientists found that removing all the trees around buildings increased the buildings’ energy consumption by as much as 10% in the winter and 15% in the summer.

“The beneficial effects of trees in reducing wind speed was actually well known by farmers before this study,” he said. “Now we have a tool to quantify it and help the design of future windbreaks to maximize their effects.”

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/17/urban-trees-protect-buildings-high-winds-cold-temps-air-pollution/

Forest cities: a greener future for pollution-plagued China

greener future for pollution plagued China

Stefano Boeri, the renowned Italian architect famous for his tree-clad Bosco Verticale skyscraper complex in Milan, has a new, greener vision for pollution-plagued China. His next project, in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, will consist of two neighbouring towers covered with 23 species of tree and more than 2500 cascading shrubs.

Currently under construction and set for completion next year, this is just the beginning of Boeri’s bold plans for China. His aim is to create ‘forest cities’ – a life-changing transformation for a country that is famous for smog and environmental destruction.

Boeri said, “We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades. We are working very seriously on designing all the different buildings. I think they will start to build at the end of this year. By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”

His Milan-based practice claimed the buildings would suck 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide from Nanjing’s air each year and produce about 60 kg of oxygen every day. “It is positive because the presence of such a large number of plants, trees and shrubs is contributing to the cleaning of the air, contributing to absorbing CO2 and producing oxygen. And what is so important is that this large presence of plants is an amazing contribution in terms of absorbing the dust produced by urban traffic.”

“Two towers in a huge urban environment [such as Nanjing] is so, so small a contribution – but it is an example. We hope that this model of green architecture can be repeated and copied and replicated.”

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

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/17/forest-cities-radical-plan-china-air-pollution-stefano-boeri

Ballarat seeks community input on urban forest strategy

Ballarat Centenary Hotel

The City of Ballarat has released a discussion paper highlighting the key priorities and challenges of its urban forest strategy, and is now seeking community input to form part of its final action plan. Adopted in mid 2015, the strategy outlines plans to increase tree canopy coverage across the city from an estimated 17 per cent to 40 percent by 2040.

Mayor Samantha McIntosh said while the urban forest strategy presented council with “a number of issues and challenges”, there were also “some great outcomes” that could be achieved, including economical, mental, physical, and emotional benefits. “Having worked in real estate, I know that property values are absolutely increased in the streets that have those wonderful tree canopies,” Cr McIntosh said. “But it is also about health and wellness, and providing plenty of shade, where people like the elderly will benefit.”

Cr McIntosh believes the 2040 target of 40 per cent canopy coverage is achieveable, pointing out some CBD areas have already achieved 36 per cent coverage. The discussion paper is about prompting the next stage of action, encouraging public response and suggestions.

“We’re not saying we have all the answers,” she said. “Heritage and green space are very important to the people of Ballarat, we want to continue that conversation and ensure the public is involved.”

Read the paper here or discover more about innovative solutions for urban trees here.

Source: http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4544393/call-for-urban-forest-input/

Image credit: The former Centenary Hotel at Ballarat, Australia – by Mattinbgn

Australia’s first elevated indoor forest set to star in new development, Paragon

indoor forest Australia

Renowned landscape designer, Paul Bangay, will partner with developer Beulah International to create Australia’s first elevated indoor forest at a new mixed-use development known as Paragon. Situated at the former Celtic Club site in Melbourne’s CBD, the development will feature 220 luxury apartments starting from $500,000.

The three-storey high urban forest will be a conservatory-like feature, incorporating a selection of mature trees, leafy canopies, climbing gardens, cascading water, and grassy spaces. Residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the forest from a number of outdoor seating zones featuring refined terrazzo pavers.

Paul Bangay said the urban forest was the result of wanting to create green space that wasn’t at street level, but rather up in the air. “The forest we’re creating is not your typical roof space or balcony space; it’s three storeys high which means we’re able to bring in tall trees.”

Beulah International Executive Director, Adelene The, said it was important for residents to feel as though they had a sanctuary where they could escape the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streetscape. “We want residents to feel like they’re not so much in a high-rise building, but rather out in a garden; a sanctuary protected from natural elements.”

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

Source: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/eco-chic-australias-first-elevated-indoor-forest-to-descend-on-melbourne/

Image credite: http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/04/20/fajarbaru-to-jointly-pioneer-australias-highrise-indoor-forest/

Adelaide City Council aims to become world’s first carbon neutral city

With the initiation of its Green City Plan, Adelaide has taken another step towards its objective of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral city. The plan consists of two main targets, to be achieved by 2020: add another 1000 trees and 100,000 metres squared of green area around the CBD.

Adelaide City Council Sustainability Advisor Paul Smith said, “The Green City Plan is more about adapting to the impacts of climate change in the city, rather than reducing emissions. We are already seeing climate impacts such as increases in average temperature and extreme heat. If we want to attract more people to live and work here, then we need to have a climate resilient city.”

Council has also established a Green City Grant program, with cash incentives of up to $10,000 for business owners and private homeowners to implement initiatives like living walls, green facades, and vertical and verge gardens. Each project needs to be visible from the street or public place, and enhance the surrounding area.

One of the successful first-round applicants was Jack Greens on James Place, a healthy fast food restaurant. Co-Founder Wade Galea said the grant program would help them build a green wall outside their new store. “Our brand is very much about doing good things for our local communities and keeping things green – all our packaging is biodegradable and we source all our produce from local suppliers. James Place is very much a concrete jungle and we wanted to increase the look of the place with custom designed plants and a pillar outside. The wall would have been too expensive for us by ourselves and we probably wouldn’t have been able to do this if the council wasn’t involved.”

Stay tuned for more urban greening projects as the plan unfolds.

http://indaily.com.au/news/sponsored-content/2017/03/23/green-city-plan-to-speed-carbon-neutrality/

Singapore beats 16 cities with largest green urban area

Singapore green urban area

Known as ‘The City in a Garden’, Singapore has beaten 16 cities around the world in a study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Almost 30% of the Republic’s urban areas are covered by greenery, putting it ahead of Sydney and Vancouver – which tied for second place with 25.9%, followed by California with 23.6%. Of the 17 cities, Paris has the smallest percentage of urban green space at 8.8%.

Researchers use data from Google Street View to measure green canopy and vegetation around the world using computer vision techniques. The data is then processed to obtain the Green View Index (GVI) which is then presented on a scale of 0 to 100.

Professor Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab and head of the project, said, “We present here an index by which to compare cities against one another, encouraging local authorities and communities to take action to protect and promote the green canopy cover.”

This result demonstrates the success of Singapore’s long-term urban forest planning. Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, Group Director, Streetscape, National Parks Board, said, “Our roadside greenery forms the backbone of our City in a Garden. NParks manages about 2 million trees along our streets, in parks and statelands. Trees are selected based on their suitability for various habitats, growth habit, place of origin, tree form and function, aesthetics / landscape value, ease of maintenance, and hardiness, such as drought tolerance. Our roadside trees are an integral part of the pervasive greenery that makes Singapore distinctive and together with our parks, gardens and nature reserves, provide diverse opportunities to appreciate nature up close. This is key to our vision of a City in a Garden which is biophilic as it creates an environment that improves the overall physiological and psychological well-being of all Singaporeans.”

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

Load More...