Trees are one of the oldest forms of life on our planet. They have an incredibly sustainable lifecycle of growth, reaching for optimal sun-catching branches and stretching their roots down to water sources below. Trees turn soil nutrients into fresh air, wood, and often edible leaves. They serve as homes for thousands of types of other plants and animals. Trees are fantastic for the environment and the ecosystem around them, but why should you plant trees around your school?
It’s true that deciding to plant trees is a fairly large commitment. It’s also one of the best things you can do to provide shade for the kids and produce oxygen. Trees also help the school’s energy bill as well. Just as the roots extend into the ground, holding the soil together and spreading nutrients, the branches extend over the walls and roof of your school creating cool natural shade. That shade is just as good for your old buildings as it is for the children.
Schools are built to withstand the weather for decades as long as they are properly maintained. But most administrators never think about the fact that schools are built to withstand sunlight just as much as they need to resist leaking in the rain or drafts in the cold. The way the roof is built, the materials for exterior siding, even the paint on your gutters is optimized to resist sunlight, but it only does so much. Have you ever seen a sagging sun-bleached abandoned home? Then you’ve seen the extreme result of what the sun does little by little each day to a structure. It’s a big part of why we have to maintain buildings so carefully.
How much you spend on cooling your school each year depends a lot on the weather and, most of all, your exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, schools tend to be big, flat sponges for hot sunlight, warming up the entier building. You may be familiar with the idea that your AC works harder on hot days. But you may not have realized what a big part trees play in this equation. On cloudy days, for example, you will use less electricity to maintain the same thermostat setting. Trees, when they grow over your school, are like clouds. They form a semi-permeable barrier between you and the sun. It is literally several degrees cooler in the shade. Therefore, your school building is experiencing the day as several degrees cooler as well. Every day that you have a shady tree protecting your facilities, you’ll use less electricity to keep the staff and students comfortably cool.
If you’re one of the few schools already mounting solar panels, congratulations on reaching the cutting-edge of energy efficiency. For everyone else still saving up for that perfect solar setup, at least some of your daily power comes from nuclear, fossil fuels, and/or coal unless you live in a very renewable-heavy region. This means that the less energy you use daily to cool the schools, the fewer of these inadvisable resources need to be burned to meet the community’s energy needs.
Planting trees can absolutely improve the environment, and in more ways than you might have expected. They turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, firming your soil, and filtering water through the bark. They also reduce the amount of coal and fossil fuels need to be burned. The more trees you have in your neighborhood creating oxygen and shading buildings, the more efficient your entire area becomes. Not sure what kind of tree you want to plant? We suggest doing a little research on what you’d like to see on your grounds and what your property will support before you buy a new sapling. Enjoy your trees!
For more interesting school energy efficiency tips, contact us today!