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Urban Trees Save Billions of Dollars Through Reduced Energy Costs

Photo of Trees alter the microclimate around buildings and affect energy use.Trees alter the microclimate around buildings and affect energy use.Snapshot : Trees in U.S. urban and community areas reduce residential energy use by an average of 7.2 percent, which equates a national savings of $7.8 billion per year. Reduced energy use also lowers pollutant emissions from power plants, which equates to an additional $3.9 billion per year.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Nowak, David J.  
Research Location : Syracuse, NY
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1216

Summary

Urban trees and forests alter building energy use and associated emissions from power plants by shading buildings, cooling air temperatures, and altering wind speeds around buildings. Understanding how trees affect energy use and other benefits associated with trees can lead to better policies and management to sustain tree health and values across the nation. Research investigating tree effects on residential building energy use reveals that trees in urban areas of the conterminous United States annually reduce electricity use by 38.8 million megawatt hours for a savings of $4.7 billion, heating use by 246 million British thermal units, saving $3.1 billion, and avoid thousands of tons of emissions of several pollutants valued at $3.9 billion per year. Average reduction in national residential energy use due to trees is 7.2 percent. Specific designs to reduce energy use using urban trees could increase these values and further reduce energy use and improve air quality in the United States.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • RPA
  • S&PF
  • Davey Institute

Strategic
Program Areas

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