Cool Oasis

Image credit: <a href=''>mtilghma / 123RF Banque d'images</a>It’s another hot day here today, and during the summer I always try to get out early for any exercise or work to avoid the sun. Even though I started out early(ish) on my run, the sun was already beating down – until I made the oases of tree shade that dot my running path. The temperature, even on the street, feels several degrees lower under a stand of trees. On the un-asphalted stretches where I run through forest, the air fresh and cool.

It’s no news that trees and hedges provide protection against wind and sun, not to mention their function as carbon dioxide filters. As it turns out, the benefits of trees planted in urban areas has been quantified by the US Forestry Service. Among the findings:

  • The net cooling effect of single, young healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-sized air conditioners, running for 20 hours a day.
  • A tree planted today on the west side of your house will result in a 3% energy savings in the five years time, 12% savings in fifteen years.
  • A single stand of trees reduces particulate pollution 9-13%, with the amount of dust reaching the ground beneath those trees 27-42%, versus in an open area.
  • If you have trees on your property near your home it accounts for 10-23% of your home value.
  • In urban areas, assuming the cost of planting and maintaining a tree for three years at $250-600, it will return $90,000 in direct benefits over its lifetime (apart from beautification, etc.).

There are so many urban projects right now that involve the integration of trees into the buildings themselves, as well as provide for functional green spaces that go beyond the standard lawns and occasional tree of older park planning.

It’s always easier to start with a blank slate.

What I’m interested in is the green renovation of established areas (greerenovation?), the places that can’t afford a complete re-do, where it’s impractical to start over. I’ve included a link below to a project for greening vacant urban land in Detroit – along with a particular tree farm proposal that is causing some controversy as to what urban farming and greenification should look like.

Any good examples of successful project come to mind? Please share them.


Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Switchboard articleWhat trees mean to communities: more than you may think by Kaid Benfield

Treehugger articleBeat the Heat by Mat McDermott

UrbanGardensWeb articleWill Detroit get the world’s largest urban farm? by Robin Plaskoff Horton

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