Proposed Legislation Pushes Smart Use of Shade Trees

California democrat has introduced The Residential Energy and Economic Savings (TREES) Act, designed to help lower residential energy usage through targeted planting of shade trees.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) has introduced The Residential Energy and Economic Savings (TREES) Act, which proponents say will help lower energy usage and utility bills through the targeted planting of residential shade trees.

The TREES Act explicitly cites the benefits of proper tree siting, including stormwater management, reduced energy load demand, and carbon sequestration. It would establish a grant program to assist electricity providers in planting shade trees to insulate residential buildings and minimize home heating and cooling demands.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) worked closely with the congresswoman’s office on drafting the language of the legislation. Representative Matsui included ASLA’s recommendations, including:

  • Establishing an education campaign to help residents maintain their shade trees
  • Requiring monitoring and reporting on the survival, growth, overall health and estimated savings of the provided trees
  • Requiring tree recipients to care for the trees.

Moreover, the legislation would also allow ASLA to recommend a landscape architect to participate on the local technical advisory committees to provide advice and consultation to the program.

"As we continue to tackle the combined challenges of high energy costs and the effects of climate change, it is essential that we put in place innovative policies and forward-thinking programs that will help prepare us for generations to come,” Matsui said. “The Residential Energy and Economic Savings Act, or TREES Act, would help reduce energy costs for consumers and improve air quality for all Americans. My home district of Sacramento, CA, has implemented a successful shade tree program, and I believe replicating this program on a national level will help ensure that we are working towards a cleaner, healthier future.”

“ASLA lends its support to the bill because planting shade trees and increasing overall tree canopy are effective strategies to help dramatically lower energy bills and reduce air pollution,” said Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “ASLA is pleased to support the TREES Act and encourages members of Congress to follow Representative Matsui’s leadership.”