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Trees Are The Answer

This past weekend was a big event for my fair City called Cyclovia.  A stretch of City streets are closed and everyone is invited to come play. Bike riding, skateboarding and walking are all encouraged, everything except driving.  Pretty great, and this season’s Cyclovia started in our neighborhood.

My neighbor and friend decided to grow and give away trees for the event. She easily gave away hundreds of trees, and hopefully some (most) will find a home in the ground and improve the quality of life in Tucson.

Growing trees is right up her alley, she and her husband own a nursery in the hood.  When people figured out this wasn’t a City sponsored thing and asked why she was doing it, she pointed to the bicycle sticker she was giving out, which says Trees Are The Answer.  My neighbor is one of those rare people who works hard to make a difference in the world, and I know that she believes in her guts that Trees Are The Answer.


She’s right of course. They clean up our air, sequester carbon,  provide shade, provide food, provide habitat, reduce cooling loads for houses, improve soil, provide fuel, building materials, and they look great. There are a lot of reasons to love trees and I’m sure I’ve just scratched the surface.

It got me thinking about what kind of bicycle sticker I would pass out. Something like  Zero Is The Hero, because I believe that buildings need to be zero energy (or close to it)  so that we can stop this thing called climate change.

But Zero isn’t tangible like a tree is. It’s hard to wrap your head around the value of zero. It’s hard to get excited about it. I mean what can zero do? It’s nothing, right? It doesn’t provide shade, food or building materials. It’s not really an it.

The reason the benefits of zero energy (or near) zero energy aren’t as obvious as those of a tree is because not many people have heard of a net-zero energy home, let alone experienced what it’s like to live in one.

I suppose that’s part of what this blog is all about, talking about the benefits of zero energy homes so that pretty soon everyone will not have to ask why is zero the hero?  I’m kind of liking this slogan, what do you think?  ​

Fortunately, zero has a lot of benefits.  Not as many as trees, but who can compete with a tree?  I covered the benefits in my article on how zero energy ready homes beat the pants off existing homes but just to review, here are the highlights:

  • Health Promoting (clean indoor air)
  • Comfortable (no drafts or cold spots)
  • Advanced technology (not your father’s buick)
  • Ultra Efficient (just a relatively small PV system required to get to zero)
  • Built with Quality (no other way to build if you are aiming for zero)
  • Durable (happy byproduct of building with quality)

The biggest baddest benefit of zero energy is that it might give us an opportunity to avert the looming disaster of climate change.  They say all politics are local, nothing is more local than home.