Many urban communities are now seeing the overall benefit of creating tree-lined sidewalks. Aside from the obvious benefit that overhead trees will produce shade to pedestrians on hot summer days, there are also a number of other reasons to plant trees.
In 2009, the U.S. Green Building Council launched the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) as an incentive for communities to promote environmentally friendly development. The LEED program awards a certain amount of credits per each requirement that the community meets. Once the neighborhood undergoes the three stages of development, they will become a LEED-Certified Project. This certification proves that the community shows a high regard for sustainability, urbanism, smart growth, and green building.
Communities planting trees can now earn LEED credits by using one or both of two options. First off, they can receive 1 point for designing a tree-lined streets project which includes one tree within every 40 feet (excluding driveways and utility vaults) on both sides of new and existing streets. Or, they could receive 1 point for creating shaded streets, which means that trees or other shrubbery provide at least 40% of sidewalk shade, which is measured when the sun is directly above the trees.
Many communities find that the main goal in planting trees is to reduce the urban heat island effect, which is used to describe a higher air and structure temperature in an urban area compared to a nearby rural area. This effect not only raises temperatures, but also can increase air pollution, cooling costs, and even cause heat and pollution related health problems.
Literally every single inch of the tree is beneficial. The branches and leaves can help absorb sound, block erosion causing rainfall, provide shade, reduce wind speed, and filter out harmful pollutants. The entire tree can become a natural habitat for birds, small animals, and insects. Although this may not sound like a direct benefit to the pedestrian, these species help benefit our ecosystem in one way or another. The roots of the tree can also help stabilize our soil, preventing erosion. Trees also promote evaptotranspiration, which allows the leaves and roots to cool themselves and the surrounding area. Therefore, the planting of trees can also lower energy costs for nearby buildings. If the trees shade the building, their cooling costs are further decreased.
The benefits of planting trees along the sidewalks in your community can range from simple overhead shade for pedestrians to reduced cooling costs to LEED credits. However, some may argue that the trees can pose a hazard to pedestrian traffic if the roots become too large, creating a fall and injury hazard.
However, the benefits of lining your sidewalks and streets with trees far outweigh potential risks. In fact, many of these risk factors can be greatly reduced with proper installation of grating systems. Many communities choose to install perforated metal tree grating. Metal grating is used over a traditional tree “box” or mulching for a number of reasons. The tree box or mulching can pose a fall hazard to pedestrians. It also becomes an area for trash and litter. For busy cities such as Washington D.C., using a large tree box could take away precious sidewalk space and greatly impede their daily pedestrian traffic.
Instead, a metal grate is flush with the ground and greatly reduces the risk of falls. The hole openings allow for proper watering of the trees from natural rainfall. Most grates allow for tree growth and expansion with the removal of inner rings.
The tree grates can add an element of style to your community, while promoting green living. Hendrick Screen Co. can custom design your tree grates based on your community’s needs. You may decide to use circular, rectangular, square, or even diamond shaped tree grates. Add a personal touch by having your town’s name designed into the tree grate. Their products can even help your community in attaining LEED credits.
If your urban community sees a great deal of pedestrian traffic, installing trees with durable, long lasting grates can greatly improve the overall quality of the area and even your citizens’ health.
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