Tree-lined streets are one of the hallmarks of Davis, and a new nonprofit program is aimed at expanding the tree canopy in town.
Tree Davis, a local nonprofit environmental group, is planning on distributing 250 free shade trees to be planted in the city of Davis. Organizers say the trees will provide much-needed shade for homes and streets, saving energy and adding character.
“[The trees] provide a lot of different benefits for Davis residents,” said Tree Davis executive director Ruth Williams. “Shading buildings can save up to 30 percent on air conditioning costs.”
Shade trees are classified as deciduous trees, or trees that are seasonal and lose their leaves in the fall. These provide unique heating and cooling benefits, Williams said.
“[By using deciduous trees] you can save your building [from heat] in the summer time, but in the winter you want the sun to come in, and when [the trees] don’t have their leaves, the light can come in and warm your home,” she said.
While fruit trees are also useful in terms of providing seasonal shade, typical shade trees are easier for landowners to maintain and thus are the only ones planted by the Tree Davis volunteers.
Tree Davis will be distributing free shade trees to landowners for them to plant at their own will.
“We recommend that they plant [their tree] on the east, west or south side of their home … in order to save energy and money on your air conditioning bill,” Williams said.
Though the trees are only being distributed to landowners, Williams said she encourages students to get involved in the program. There will be student training workshops over the next few weeks so students can help homeowners properly plant and care for the trees.
Another goal of the program is to influence environmental factors. While there are other necessary factors to bring down air pollutants, experts believe trees are effective in bringing down excessive heat in the area in which they are planted.
“[Shade trees] are another piece in the puzzle to bring down heat … especially on asphalt, they reduce solar radiation and heat output,” said John Cruit, urban forest supervisor for the city of Davis.
Shade trees also ultimately reduce storm water runoff and therefore they reduce the need for wastewater treatment, Cruit said. They also decrease noise and air pollution, he added. [Shade trees] definitely offset cooling costs because of their shade value,” he said.
While it would be difficult to calculate an exact number as to the degree that shade trees cut down energy costs, the city of Davis would benefit from shade trees being planted, said Stephen Kaffka, associate specialist in the UC Davis plant science department.
“There are certainly large streets with lots of asphalt that heats up, for example, and if you had tree islands on those streets they would shade more and radiate less energy back,” Kaffka said.
People who have south facing roofs receive a high amount of heat loads, and therefore shade trees would help mitigate their heat, he said. However, there are other ways to decrease heat on homes such as installing white roofs instead of dark ones, he added.
“I would rather see the shade trees on the wide street in front of my house [rather than on the house],” Kaffka added.
For more information and ways to get involved with the Tree Davis shade tree project, visit treedavis.org.
CAITLIN COBB can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.