The development of new buildings results in increased emissions for three reasons:
- If trees are cut down, their continued carbon sequestration potential is eliminated.
- The “embodied energy” of the building, which is the energy needed to fabricate materials and construct buildings results in GHG emissions.
- The operation of the building (e.g. the HVAC and other systems) will result in GHG emissions. According to the One Tree Pledge project, “The total Carbon produced by each square foot of a home is 8.497 lbs of Carbon each year… [A tree] will sequester 10 lbs of Carbon per year,” so developers should be required to plant and maintain one tree per square foot of new building.
Builders should be required to offset these emissions through methods such as:
- Replacing cut trees at the affected property with native species.
- Planting new trees locally.
- Funding the planting of trees locally, through the municipality or a nonprofit.
- Funding municipality-approved programs that offset GHG emissions from their development projects. Such programs could include electrification, efficiency or soil carbon sequestration or soil regeneration projects such as using composted food scraps to replenish soil quality.
Developers must plant and maintain a new tree for every one they cut down.
Developers must offset the GHG emissions attributed to the embodied energy of the building.
While the cost of offsetting the emissions is likely to be passed on to the purchaser or tenant of the building, such offsets have the effect of changing “external” costs of carbon to one that is born directly by the responsible party. This will lead to building siting and design with lower GHG emissions.
Depending on the program design, other challenges may include:
- Identifying reliable GHG projection standards for the construction industry.
- Selecting GHG valuation method.
- Verification of planting and maintenance of trees.
- Maintaining trees may require legal protection for the land the trees are planted on, such as conservation easements.
- No example Municipalities found
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions
No impact for the first phase.
Climate Smart Communities (CSC) & Clean Energy Communities (CEC) Link
No direct counterpart exists for this action in the CSC and CEC frameworks.
There are multiple co-benefits to completing this action, including:
- Increased attention on new development climate impact.
- Investment in new local tree planting/maintenance projects.
- Reduction in development costs by focusing on key energy and material usage/waste.
- Incentive to build higher-efficiency homes.
- Incentive to preserve mature trees and biodiversity in new developments.