Preserving Our Natural Resources

They say a picture tells a thousand words.  Scroll through these photos and what do you see?  For the most part, I see trees.  Sure, there are some nice homes, but by and large I see trees.

I see photos that tell a story of life, of birds singing, leaves providing protection from a hot summer sun, and leaves providing a glorious palette of colors in the fall.  The trees also enhance the beauty of the home, framing it and providing a context.

Take away the trees, and the photo tells a vastly different story.  Quiet, lifeless.  The hot summer sun beating down mercilessly on the home, causing it to wear out and causing utility bills to soar.  A stark, lonely home.

The last photo in this gallery is not from a John Marshall Custom Home project.  Rather it is from a home being built on a lovely lot in Davidson that is framed by two oak trees of at least four feet in diameter.  As you can see, the builder of this home has not given any consideration to protecting these trees.  Trucks are parked all around it, and materials are stacked up beside the trunk, helping to compact soil and restrict the flow of oxygen to the roots.

Green building programs such as LEED mandate tree protection.  The concept is quite simple:  keep things away from trees during construction.  Keep them watered and fed.  Engage an arborist who can prescribe treatments to minimize the stress from construction.

What is the value of a four-foot diameter oak tree?  Davidson just put price tags on some of its trees as a way to show the value of the tree.  Personally I think the valuations are way too low.  How can you value something that cannot be replaced for decades?  How much extra would someone pay for a house with no trees around it versus a home with mature shade trees?  I think the answer is in the several thousands of dollars.

In spite of their value, there are still contractors who take few if any steps to protect trees.  I wish mandates were not necessary, but unfortunately I believe they are.  Davidson and other towns need to mandate tree protection programs for construction projects, and customers need to be educated about tree protection so they can insist that their builder follow good practices.

Insist on green building.  It’s not just good for the home.

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