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Drivers of Summertime Electricity Consumption in Fort Collins, Colorado

Authors: Lauren Abram*, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University, Melissa McHale, Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Energy, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Urban Ecology, Energy Consumption, Trees, Urban Forest, Urban Geography
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

As global population grows and shifts to urban living, household energy consumption, without changes to utility resources, will result in higher carbon dioxide emissions and increasingly impact climate change. In order to address the increase in electricity use that comes with population growth, urban expansion, and electrification of the distribution grid, we need to understand current drivers and/or reducers of energy use in urban areas. An established body of research has linked the presence of urban tree canopy to significant reductions in electricity use, but the magnitude of these reductions differs based on climate, microclimate, urban form, and individual behavior. Given the variable impact of trees on energy use reductions, our goal was to explore the growing, mid-size, semi-arid city of Fort Collins, Colorado. Starting off with one neighborhood, we examined linkages between single-family household summertime electricity use and land cover, home age, and home value using bivariate analysis. Our results suggested that urban tree canopy had a significant role in reducing electricity consumption during summer months, while impervious surfaces, such as sidewalks and roads, increased consumption. This research could inform the development of urban energy policy and programs to help reduce carbon emissions in Fort Collins, resulting in a more energy efficient and sustainable city.

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