Street trees: A wonder of climate adaptation

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Street trees: A wonder of climate adaptation

Street trees have many benefits, but their climate impact is becoming more important all the time.

Urban trees are among the most powerful tools that designers can use to help communities both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Trees are like outdoor air conditioners that operate as carbon sinks.

The cooling impact of a single healthy tree from evaporation and absorbing sunlight “is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 24 hours a day,” according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Planting urban trees “is an appealing, low-tech, time-tested practice that sequesters CO2 and reduces air pollution, soil erosion and stormwater runoff, not to mention providing oxygen, habitat for small animals, shade in the summer, and more,” writes Doug Kelbaugh in The Urban Fix (2019).

Street trees are cost-effective, too, because they also offer multiple health, safety, and economic benefits to cities and their inhabitants (here and here are other reports on this subject). Urban trees pay for themselves many times over. Jeff Specks writes in his classic Walkable City, “It’s best not to pick favorites in the walkability discussion—every individual point counts—but the humble American street tree might win my vote.”

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CNU [Congres of New Urbanism] is Founded in 1993. New Urbanism is a movement united around the belief that our physical environment has a direct impact on our chances for happy, prosperous lives. New Urbanists believe that well-designed cities, towns, neighborhoods, and public places help create community: healthy places for people and businesses to thrive and prosper.

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