“How does landscape design reduce my energy use?”
Landscaping plays a significant role in reducing your carbon footprint. Trees provide much needed shade when properly placed, and can allow solar gains at the proper time of year when the correct species is matched to building orientation. Evergreens can block harsh afternoon sun or offer a break from cold winter winds. The evaporative cooling benefits of plants can promote use of an outdoor space. Providing shade for parking areas and plazas can prevent the heat island effect and create a cooler microclimate. Remember that plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen during photosynthesis allowing us to breathe easier and improve the atmosphere of our planet.
Irrigation consumes nearly 30% of our total water demand in the USA. Using native species and drought tolerant plants is a low-cost way to reduce irrigation. Rainwater collection and reuse is a more proactive strategy that can eliminate use of municipal water systems for irrigation. Rainwater is collected from roofs and parking lots, stored in cisterns or retention ponds for use. Going further, grey water can be collected from sinks and showers then filtered for landscape irrigation. Establish a goal of not using public water utilities for irrigation at the beginning of the design process.