Operation Cool Shade—Saving Electrical Costs with Trees

Research Year: 

Studies show that proper shading of the home can reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 percent. “Operation Cool Shade” began in 2000 when the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Pima County joined with Tri-Co Electric Cooperative to provide shade trees and training annually to interested residents. A requirement of the program is that trees be planted in locations around the house to ensure maximum shading.

Description of Action: 

Ten trained master gardener volunteers presented four “Operation Cool Shade” programs to 236 participants in 2008. An additional four master gardeners staffed an answer booth at the tree distribution day at Tri-Co Electric Cooperative’s headquarters. As a result of the program, 1,168 trees were distributed to 578 electric cooperative customers. Tri-Co employees conducted follow-up inspections to ensure that trees were planted in the pre-determined locations and that the trees remained in good health. Assistance with tree care was provided by Pima County Cooperative Extension.


As a result of Operation Cool Shade, 578 households in Pima County reduced their energy consumption by an estimated 839,834 kilowatt hours during the peak summer months of June, July and August in 2008. Based on an average peak household consumptive rate of 7,263 kwh for that period—and a 20 percent projected savings—the 1,168 shade trees planted around the homes collectively saved a projected $80,640 in electrical costs. Since 2000, a total of 12,726 trees have been distributed to customers in Pima County, reducing energy consumption by 6,414,000 kwh, with a cumulative energy savings of $615,884.

Conact Name: 
John Begeman
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