Search This Blog

Saturday, February 12, 2011

National Tree Benefit Calculator

Speaking of the importance of well-planned and supported street trees, The National Tree Benefit Calculator is an excellent new website from Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co. that allows you to calculate the benefits of a street tree in your neighborhood.  Just type in your zip code and select an extensive list of tree species, and you can determine how much the tree is, or could be, adding to your property value, air quality, stormwater management, and utility savings.  Even better, the result also points out how much more benefit the tree is if nurtured and allowed to grow to even larger diameter, and provides a conceptual summary of how a tree can impact site performance.  The website is only in BETA-testing right now, but this is going to be a great outreach tool for engaging the public,and potential clients, in the value of planting, and maintaining, trees.  Below is a bit more about the assessment tool:
The Tree Benefit Calculator allows anyone to calculate a first-order approximation of the benefits individual street-side trees provide. This tool is based on i-Tree’s street tree assessment tool called STRATUM. With minimal inputs of location, species and tree size, users will get an understanding of the environmental and economic value trees provide on an annual basis.

The Tree Benefit Calculator is intended to be simple and accessible. As such, this tool should be considered a starting point for understanding trees’ value in the community rather than a scientific accounting of precise values. For more detailed information on urban and community forest assessments, visit the i-Tree website.

The National Tree Benefit Calculator was conceived and developed by Casey Trees and Davey Tree Expert Co.

This tool is powered by i-Tree; the data generating the results comes from the i-Tree Tools CD ROM:

Significant text and graphical content was originally published by the USDA Forest Service’s Center for Urban Forest Research through their Tree Guide series of publications. Credit should be given to authors of these publications.

Facts about personal carbon production based on driving and flying courtesy of Conservation International

For questions about this tool, contact Mike Alonzo (Casey Trees) or Scott Maco (Davey Tree Expert Co.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

LA Streets: Existing Conditions

I am pulling this one out from the files of design and construction miscues.  Ran into this tree while on a field visit in San Gabriel.  Why in the world a tree ever got planted here is beyond any reason, but, apparently, an ongoing testament to a miscue in a design office, missed plan checks in permitting, and a disastrous installation process in which the contractor refused to question the plans, and construction observation went out the window.  We put our street trees through enough (note the 4' x 4' planting area, massive surrounding imperviousness, residual nursery stake, and largely ineffective staking efforts), but planting them underneath a guy wire for an electrical pole just seems cruel.  There is no doubt this is a losing proposition from the get go.  While trees, always the optimists, make a good go of it, I am sure DPW will be coming to chop this tree back before long to make sure the electrical pole is not compromised.  With street trees being at a premium in Los Angeles, effective planning and installation for healthy, long-living trees can't be a luxury, but must be a necessity to build an effective and long-lasting urban forest.  Given that the well could have easily been installed ten feet to the left, I think it is fair to say we collectively dropped the ball on this one.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

LA Projects Showcase Living Architecture

Playa Vista Park.  Image from The Architect's Newspaper.  All Rights Reserved
The Architect's Newspaper had an interesting read this week on how the increasing trend of merging landscape and architecture is producing innovative building and site designs.  Even more pertinent, they included a number of LA design firms and projects in the mix.  Prominently featured was James Burnett's and Michael Maltzan's recent collaboration on Playa Vista Park, (I have yet to visit, but will hopefully post some pictures and thoughts on it in the next few weeks), and other LA-related examples include Belzberg Architects' Museum of the Holocaust, and work by Morphosis, SWA, and Freeland Buck.  Definitely very exciting and impressive work, with hopefully even more to come.

Playa Vista Park.  Image from The Architect's Newspaper.  All Rights Reserved.