Overview & Applicability
This tool can help members of the public, cities and other organizations estimate the carbon and energy impacts of trees. EcoSmart Landscapes Public is intended for residential property owners, while ecoSmart Landscapes Enterprise is for planning and management of carbon offset projects by organizations such as utilities, campuses, and municipalities.
The online tools provide quantitative data on carbon dioxide sequestration and building heating/cooling energy savings afforded by individual trees. Results can be used to estimate the greenhouse gas benefits of existing trees, to forecast future benefits, and to facilitate planning and management of carbon offset projects.
Carbon calculations are based on methodology approved by the Climate Action Reserve's Urban Forest Project Protocol. This software allows organizations to integrate public tree planting programs into their carbon offset or urban forestry programs.
EcoSmart Landscapes started through work on the CUFR Tree Carbon Calculator (CTCC), developed in 2008 as a downloadable program in an Excel spreadsheet. The current version of ecoSmart was released in 2012 as a web-based tool with added functionality for the state of California climate zones. It was developed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, and EcoLayers.
Inputs and outputs
Homeowners are asked to provide an address, and identify and mark the property outline and building of interest (e.g. a residential home) using a Google Maps interface. Users are then asked to:
- Mark the locations of trees on the property and/or
- Mark the locations where they wish to plant trees on the property
- Enter information on the species and size of each existing tree. Size is requested in diameter at breast height (dbh) or height or
- Users may outline the crown of the tree and the program will estimate dbh based on crown size
With the information given, the tool produces a variety of summary and detailed tables and charts. Users may select which of these tables or charts to view and/or download. Information in these reports includes:
- Aboveground biomass for individual trees or the set of selected trees (lbs)
- Total amount of CO2 stored in each tree or set of trees (lbs)
- CO2 sequestered per year for each tree or set of trees. (lbs)
- Amount of energy used for heating and cooling the building, with and without the selected trees (BTUs)
- CO2 emissions avoided from heating and cooling, given the selected trees (lbs) - these outputs are experiencing problems.
Restrictions and limitations
There are a number of assumptions that go into calculating tree size and growth for multiple species and estimating carbon sequestration and energy savings. Registering to use ecoSmart Landscapes gives a user access to the calculations and the assumptions used in the process under the "˜references" tab. The current beta release of the tool includes all California climate zones but does not apply to the remainder of the U.S. Output on emissions related to building energy savings may not be accurate at this time. The tool can be used with a PC only on Chrome, Firefox, or IE9 or greater.
Accessing the tool and additional information.
Registration is required to use the tool, but EcoSmart Landscapes Public is free of charge. Access the Portal at http://www.ecosmartlandscapes.org/.