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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trees for Daybreak

The street that I called home when I was a child was lined with trees. Any memory that I have while playing in my neighborhood includes these long-lived giants. They were planted long before I was born and will probably outlive me even if I live to be 100. The shade they gave during the hot summer months, the brilliant colors and piles of leaves in the fall, the climate and peace of mind that they provided was more valuable than any other amenity. Sara Ebenreck said that trees outstrip most people in the extent and depth of their work for the public good.

Considering these memories, I am glad that the landscape plan for Daybreak calls for the planting of 100,000 trees among the 4200 acres that will eventually make up the whole of the community. It is one of the major reasons that I moved here. Most of the trees in Daybreak are just getting started, but given time will grow to be the same green sentinels that I enjoyed in my old neighborhood.

This transformation will dramatically affect every aspect of life in Daybreak. For example, one of the main underlying philosophies of Daybreak is conservation and smart growth. We are building homes that are energy efficient, planting water-wise plants and reducing runoff among other things. All of these efforts will be reinforced by the planting of trees.

  • "The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day."—U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • "Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs by up to 50 percent, by shading the windows and walls of a home." — American Public Power Association
  • "The planting of trees means improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. This allows more recharging of the ground water supply." —USDA Forest Service

Trees help the environment in more direct ways as well. Especially in Utah, the temperature underneath a tree can be much cooler. By using trees in our neighborhoods, we moderate the heat-island effect caused by the heat radiated by pavement, buildings, and other hardscapes. The quality of the air we breathe is improved by trees as the leaves filter dust and other particulates. Trees also absorb other pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide and recycle it into oxygen.

One of the most interesting affects trees have is on your pocketbook. Besides saving money by lowering energy costs, trees can increase the value of your property. A house with mature trees can be worth 5 to 20 percent more than homes of similar size and quality.

But when will these benefits be realized? While the full benefits will not be realized for at least a generation, proportioned benefits will be realized along the way. Depending on the growth rate of the variety of trees planted in Daybreak, some will take much longer. I personally look forward to a fall day 20 years from now when the trees are turning colors and the children are crunching the leaves under their feet. If you have any other reservations about planting trees in Daybreak, then just look at the two pictures below. The same street photographed at different times (no digital manipulation) one with trees and one without. Which street would you rather live on?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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