Estimating cost effectiveness of residential yard trees for improving air quality in Sacramento, California, using existing models

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Journal Article

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The Sacramento Municipal Utility District's (SMUD) shade tree program will result in the planting of 500,000 trees and has been found to produce net benefits from air conditioning savings. In this study we assume three scenarios (base, highest, and lowest benefits) based on the SMUD program and apply Best Available Control Technology (BACT) cost analysis to determine if shade trees planted in residential yards can be a cost effective means to improve air quality. Planting and maintenance costs, pollutant deposition, and biogenic hydrocarbon emissions are estimated annually for 30 years with existing deterministic models. For the base case, the average annual dollar benefit of pollutant uptake was $895 and the cost of biogenic hydrocarbon emissions was $512, for a net pollutant uptake benefit of $383 per 100 trees planted. The uniform annual payment necessary to repay planting and maintenance costs with a 10% rate of interest was $749. When high biogenic hydrocarbon emitting tree species were replaced with low-emitters, the base case benefit-cost ratio (BCR) increased from 0.5: 1 to 0.9: l. The BCR for the "highest" and "lowest" benefit cases were 2.2:1 and -0.8:1, respectively. Although SMUD plantings produce cost effective energy savings, our application of the BACT analysis does not suggest convincing evidence that there is cost savings when only air quality benefits are considered.


Atmospheric Environment



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