From parking lots to parks
For this new chapter of my life – studying for my MBA in Sustainable Business at Pinchot University – I am living next to a parking lot and I have been wondering if the owners could just plant a few trees to make it look better.
Indeed, this parking lot – like thousands other ones in the United States – is literally empty after work hours and during weekends, giving me a lifeless space to gaze at while I am studying, reading and writing…
Then, it got me thinking of how many of these ideas parking spots in the country and I started Googling… The results are quite horrifying : the New York Times eestimates from ” at least 105 million and maybe as many as 2 billion parking spaces “ while Treehugger mentions 800 million of them…
So if we planted just one tree for each eight contiguous parking spots we could plant a staggering 100 million trees just in the United States. That’s kind of great if you think of all the benefits of what is called urban forestry, ie. planting trees in cities.
Indeed as we have seen in previous articles :
- Trees just absorb a lot of carbon dioxide, with as much as 10 to 20 kilos (around 22 to 45 pounds) of this greenhouse gas per mature tree per year. 100 million trees would suck one or two gigatonnes of CO2. That’s a significant step towards the much-needed carbon neutrality.
- They also do a great job with particulate pollution as I reported in 2013 citing a new study from Lancaster University, which discovered that trees can absorb half of particulates, PM1, PM2.5 and PM10 coming from engine combustion and other pollution sources.
- Trees also reduce the urban heat island effect that scorches urban populations. As I noted previously, the NRDC reported that ” The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day. “
- They also sucks up rainwater. I did another search on that point and discovered that Portland, Oregon, aims to plant 83,000 trees as part of its five-year, $50 million Grey to Green program for this reason ( and the ones mentioned above ). American Forests call trees ” the new sewer “…
To conclude today’s article, here is another great reason for planting trees today in parking lots. Tomorrow, fewer people will own cars as bikes and buses will become the norm because of climate change, peak oil and so on.
So the derelict and then useless parking lots could tomorrow become brand new parks. And these brand new parks would have beautiful mature trees that would already be decades old.