SMUD Shade Tree and Cool Roof Programs: Case Study in Mitigating the Urban Heat Island Effects

The primary purpose of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) Shade Tree and Cool Roof programs is to save energy and capacity for the District. A secondary and long-term objective is to create an urban environment in Sacramento with healthy urban forest and highly reflective roof tops that would mitigate the summer urban heat-island effect. The summer urban heat-island effect is a phenomena where urban areas have the ambient air temperature 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding rural areas. In addition, the other long-term objectives include improving the region’s air quality, and enhancing the quality of life in the region.
This paper examines how utility sponsored urban tree planting program evolved to achieve continuous improvements and refinements in program design, operation and energy savings since the program inception in 1990. The nation’s largest and longest running shade tree planting program, sponsored by the SMUD in collaboration with the Sacramento Tree Foundation (STF), is used as a case study. Results of impact evaluation studies as well as market research analysis and quality assurance inspection results are presented, along with program modifications that were implemented to improve program effectiveness. This paper will also examine key issues involved in evaluating benefits (avoided cost of energy and capacity and carbon sequestration) of an urban tree planting program from the perspective of an electric utility, as well as from a wider perspective of public and private entities that may benefit from such programs.

In addition, this paper examines how utility sponsored cool roof rebate program evolved since January of 2001 to achieve continuous improvements in program design, and operation, especially in light of the changes in the California government building code standards for the commercial roofs in 2005 (Title 24). The SMUD’s Cool Roof program started on January 1st 2001 and was the nation’s first utility rebate program for the cool roof technologies. On January 1st 2006, the Cool Roof program expanded to include the rebates for the residential roofs for the first time in the nation.

Suggested citation or credit:

Sarkovich, Misha.  SMUD Shade Tree and Cool Roof Programs: Case Study in Mitigating the Urban Heat Island Effects.  Presented to Second International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Islands.  September 19-23, 2009

Publication Date: September 2009

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