City Trees

May/June 2016

City Trees is a premier publication focused on urban + community forestry. In each issue, you’ll learn how to best manage the trees in your community and more!

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20 City Trees Utility Arboriculture Arbor Day Foundation's Energy-Saving Trees Program by James R. Fazio Partner Update City foresters are familiar with Tree Line USA, Arbor Day Foundation's modification of the highly suc- cessful, 40-year old Tree City USA program that was designed to promote sustainable stewardship of com- munity trees. Some 140 utilities currently participate in Tree Line USA, created in cooperation with the Utility Arborists Association in 1992 to find a happy medium between line clearance and healthy street trees. Now a new cooperative program is in its infancy and it promises to be another win-win for communities and utilities. It is the Energy-Saving Trees program, an inno- vative way to encourage home owners to plant trees that will effectively shade their houses and reduce summertime peak energy demand. Energy-Saving Trees was developed in collaboration with The Davey Institute and powered by i-Tree. Twenty- four public and investor-owned utilities are already partnering with the Arbor Day Foundation. The exact approach differs by utility, but basically homeowners go to to use an interac- tive satellite Earth view to locate their house. Then, tree species provided by the cooperating utility in their community are listed, and icons representing the trees can be moved to any location around the house. As the virtual trees on the screen are moved around the yard, the energy savings by species and site is auto- matically calculated and displayed. The homeowner then makes a selection and the trees are provided by the utility. In some cases, 2- to 4-foot (.6- to 1.2-m) tall bare root saplings are sent direct from the Arbor Day Foundation to participating home owners. In other cases, larger caliper trees are purchased locally and distributed either by the utility or a volunteer partner. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) has been a pioneer in this arena. Since 1990, SMUD has partnered with the Sacramento Tree Foundation (STF) and now uses the online program to allow homeowners to make their selection from 38 deciduous species or cultivars. In this case, STF members handle the planting and require that the selected site be the most efficient for energy savings. Misha Sarkovich, SMUD's program manager, says that while costs of the pro- gram are not totally offset by reduced energy demand, SMUD's investment "provides a stream of benefits for the future." These include the eco-services provided by trees such as improved air quality, aesthetics, and storm water retention. He also cites the non-measur - able public relations benefits of the program as being extremely important. Idaho Power joined the Energy-Saving Trees program in 2013, making 3,000 large-caliper trees available to homeowners for planting on the west side of their houses. Idaho Power is a key partner in the Treasure Valley Canopy Network, which consists of regional agencies, arborists, and city foresters and is now tak - ing on additional projects to improve urban forestry throughout the region. By all estimates, the Energy- Saving Trees program has been highly successful. Patti Best, program specialist for Idaho Power, says, "I love any opportunity to talk about this program." More infor - mation about it is provided at the Network's website: As of spring of 2015, the Energy-Saving Trees pro- gram was responsible for some 125,000 trees distributed to approximately 70,000 homeowners since launching the program in 2011. The Arbor Day Foundation's 3,366 Tree City USA communities are being encouraged to take a close look at the Energy- Savings Tree program and ask non-participating util - ities to join in this nationwide effort. It is a win-win program with endless opportunities for great public relations and significant environmental contributions. More information about the program is available at (right) Accomplishments of the Energy-Saving Trees program through Fall of 2015.

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