December 6, 2022
Study published on Clean Air Calculator

In collaboration with the Guelph Turfgrass Institute at the University of Guelph, the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association’s Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Committee published the paper: Development of an Urban Turfgrass and Tree Carbon Calculator for Northern Temperate Climates.

The paper was published by Sustainability in September 2022. The journal is an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly, peer-reviewed and open-access journal of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings. It provides an advanced forum for studies related to sustainability and sustainable development and is published semi-monthly online by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI).

Alan White, CCA Committee Chair, reached out to Dr. Eric Lyons, a professor at the Department of Plant Agriculture in the Ontario Agricultural College, for assistance in developing a tool to discern the carbon sequestration rates and the hidden carbon costs of maintaining trees and turfgrasses. The tool tracks the carbon dioxide sequestered by plants, the number of people who benefitted and the kilometers worth of car emissions that selection offsets.

clean air calculatorThe Clean Air Calculator will be launched by CNLA in 2023.

This paper is an important milestone in developing the Clean Air Calculator because its research is the foundation of the tool. The CCA Committee wanted the right metric for the calculator so that when the public uses it, they can confidently say ‘this makes sense in my backyard, in my community.’

The objective of this study is to assess the ability of urban plants to sequester carbon under a number of available management practices through the development and refinement of an accessible carbon calculator. Using available data, the calculator was used to analyze the carbon sequestration of various types of plants. The hidden carbon costs of those plants were also considered.

The researchers found little public information about how trees sequester carbon and their carbon costs but lots of data on turfgrasses, and little to none was available for shrubs and bedding plants. The team concluded turfgrasses and trees have similar positive carbon balances – meaning they each sequester more carbon than they emit – with the benefits outweighing the costs.