LEAF’s new online tool calculates the benefits of trees

Image via wikipedia.

Toronto – Last week, LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests) launched the Ontario Residential Tree Benefits Estimator, an online tool designed to estimate the energy savings and other environmental benefits provided by trees.

The Estimator was developed by LEAF in partnership with Dr. Andrew Millward of Ryerson University’s Urban Forest Research & Ecological Disturbance (UFRED) Group and was made possible with funding from the Ontario Power Authority’s Conservation Fund. With the ability to model future benefits of a newly planted tree, as well as estimate the current and accumulated benefits of an existing tree, the estimator can monitor the number of KWh saved, the dollar value of electricity savings, the amount of CO2 sequestered, the amount of avoided CO2, as well as the number of litres of stormwater mitigated and kilograms of air pollution removed.

“For those homeowners contemplating a new tree for their yard, this tool will allow them to determine what species and planting location will result in the most energy savings,” said Janet McKay, LEAF’s Executive Director. “And for those homeowners who already have trees on their property, it will allow them to find out the dollar and ecological values these trees provide.”

The Estimator calculations incorporate regionally specific climate data and electricity rates. “This tool is exciting because it is the first comprehensive residential tree benefits estimator to be developed in Canada,” said Dr. Millward. “We built upon research conducted in the United States, and developed an estimator with outputs that are uniquely tailored to 27 cities across Ontario.”

Research has shown that strategically placed trees provide shade and windbreak that can significantly reduce demand for air conditioning in summer and heating in winter. By preserving existing trees and planting new trees in the right locations, Ontarians can reduce their electricity bills, beautify their properties and help the environment all at the same time.

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