Nature
3:17 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

How Kansas City's Trees Are Saving You Money And Cutting Pollution

A new study on Kansas City's trees shows that they help save energy costs for residents and cut down pollution and carbon emissions.
A new study on Kansas City's trees shows that they help save energy costs for residents and cut down pollution and carbon emissions.
Credit Cody Newill / KCUR

The tree and shrub population in the Kansas City metropolitan area saves residents nearly $14 million a year, according to a new study.

The United States Department of Agriculture's Northern Research Station (NRS) examined plant life in nine counties in the Kansas City metro area.

The NRS found that by blocking winds in the winter, shading buildings in the summer, and providing natural evaporative cooling all throughout the year, trees and shrubs significantly cut down residential energy costs.

Kansas City's trees and shrubs also help combat climate change by capturing nearly 72.8 million tons of carbon dioxide, which the NRS values at $411 million in environmental savings.

"As trees grow, they store more carbon by holding it in their accumulated tissue," the authors write in the study. "When trees die, using the wood in long-term wood products or using wood to heat buildings ... will help reduce carbon emissions from wood decomposition."

The NRS estimates that the Kansas City metro holds nearly 250 million trees, a relatively high number for an urban area. In comparison, the Chicago metro only holds about 150 million trees and lags behind Kansas City in regrowth rates when invasive insects destroy tree populations.