Potential energy savings in buildings by an urban tree planting program in California

Tree canopy cover data from aerial photographs and building energy simulations were applied to estimate energy savings from existing trees and new plantings in California. There are approximately 177.3 million energy-conserving trees in California communities and 241.6 million empty planting sites. Existing trees are projected to reduce annual air conditioning energy use by 2.5% with a wholesale value of $ 485.8 million. Peak load reduction by existing trees saves utilities 10% valued at approximately $778.5 million annually, or $ 4.39/tree. Planting 50 million trees to shade east and west walls of residential buildings is projected to reduce cooling by 1.1% and peak load demand by 4.5% over a 15-year period. The present wholesale value of annual cooling reductions for the 15-year period is $ 3.6 billion ($ 71/tree planted). Assuming total planting and stewardship costs of $ 2.5 billion ($ 50/tree), the cost of peak load reduction is $ 63/kW, considerably less than the $ 150/kW benchmark for cost-effectiveness. Influences of tree location near buildings and regional climate differences on potential energy savings are discussed.

Suggested citation or credit:

E. Gregory McPherson, James R. Simpson, Potential energy savings in buildings by an urban tree planting programme in California, Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2003, Pages 73-86, ISSN 1618-8667, 10.1078/1618-8667-00025.

Source: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Publication Date: November 2004

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