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Cool Communities program blooms in Dade County.

A marathon planting project in Dade County, Florida, this spring will add hundreds of trees to local neighborhoods. The Cool Communities Plant-A-Thon, held from April 26 through May 18, will offer proof of trees' cooling power - not just on single buildings, but on entire neighborhoods. It's expected to be the largest volunteer tree planting ever held in south Florida.

AMERICAN FORESTS developed Cool Communities in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to measure the effects of planting trees to shade homes and using light-colored roofing to reflect heat. Seven cities in various climate zones were selected to test these cooling strategies. In each city, a local committee chooses neighborhoods, applies for grants, and raises funds. The local utility company is asked to collect data on direct savings - such as lower bills - and indirect effects, such as lower urban temperatures.

AMERICAN FORESTS' Southeast region coordinator, Nancy Masterson, has secured funding for the Dade County sites - two Global ReLeaf Walks for Trees brought in more than $20,000 for yard trees for test homes; two Florida Division of Forestry Hurricane Andrew Reforestation grants, totaling nearly $70,000, will plant trees on public streets; and a $55,000 grant from the Florida Advisory Council on Environmental Education will teach homeowners about Cool Communities. Five neighborhoods in Dade County - which encompasses the Miami metropolitan area - will illustrate different tree cover and roof-color conditions:

1. Low tree canopy site: The tree cover in Richmond Heights was devastated by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Trained block captains are visiting the homes of 96 residents and assisting each in choosing and planting three trees to shade the east, south, and west sides of their homes.

2. Heavy Tree Canopy Site: A neighborhood of 72 homes in South Miami demonstrates the energy savings of an extensive tree canopy. Residents helped conduct a tree survey; using GIS computer modeling, they will be shown where additional trees could further reduce their electric bills.

3. Low Reflectivity Roof Site: In downtown South Miami, a citizen advisory group is coordinating a "Lighten Up" contest among building owners to compete for free white roof-coating materials.

4. High Reflectivity Roof Site: Weitzer Hammocks is a 232-home development of white roofs amidst the predominately red roofs of suburban Miami. Temperature sensors will compare it to other neighborhoods.

5. New Construction Site: Homestead Habitat for Humanity's Jordan Commons Ecological Community in South Dade features homes built with white roofs and surrounded by strategically planted trees. Energy conservation and ecological landscaping are integral to the community's design. The houses will become home to 197 low-income families within the next few years.

After the trees are planted at Cool Communities sites by hundreds of volunteers, information will be collected over the next five years. When complete, Cool Communities will show the significance of the urban forest for energy consumption and calculate the financial benefits of strategically planted trees over wide areas.

The Climate Change Action Plan, the national blueprint for reducing emissions, cleaning the air, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuel, recommended the expansion of Cool Communities to 250 cities by the year 2000. AMERICAN FORESTS is currently developing a low-cost way for other municipalities to participate in the program. To find out how your city can qualify for Cool Communities designation, call Jeff Beattie, Cool Communities coordinator, at 202/667-3300, ext. 216.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:tree planting project in FL
Author:Masterson, Nancy
Publication:American Forests
Date:Mar 22, 1996
Words:562
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