A new online resource, called “Trees for Energy Conservation,” will help consumers and professionals to save energy by planting trees in the right places. Trees create shade and, when properly placed in urban settings, the shade produced by trees can significantly reduce energy use in homes, offices, and other buildings.
Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture, and Adam Downing, senior forestry and natural resources Virginia Cooperative Extension agent, were involved in developing the interactive site, which includes guided lessons, opportunities to question experts, and links to articles on such diverse topics as planting trees for noise reduction, the urban heat island phenomenon, and tips for renters. Wiseman and Downing have contributed many articles and other information on the website.
“The website provides answers for everyday questions that come from individuals, tree care professionals, business owners, community leaders, and others,” Wiseman said. “Experts from across the country contribute to the site on topics running the gamut from tree selection and pruning to the role of trees in bioremediation and the difference between an arborist and a landscaper.”
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. Deciduous trees save energy in summer by shading houses, paved areas, and air conditioners. Evergreens also save energy by slowing cold winds in the winter. Both deciduous and evergreen trees save energy in summer by directly cooling the air as water evaporates from leaf surfaces.
The Trees for Energy Conservation website is hosted by eXtension, a national research and education based website supported by the Cooperative Extension System in partnership with 75 land-grant universities. Southern Regional Extension Forester Bill Hubbard initiated development of Extension’s first urban forestry Community of Practice and the Trees for Conservation site in 2012, working with experts from all regions of the country under a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
“Our goal is to be a useful and adaptable resource for everyone interested in how trees can help save energy,” said Downing. “We know businesses, educators, homeowners, environmentalists, and others are interested in conserving energy in general. Trees are one of the most cost-effective tools in the box and simultaneously provide many other benefits.”