MiSustainable Holland: 400 more trees will save energy, improve Holland’s health

HOLLAND — Holland and its future residents will benefit from energy saving and health benefits of 400 more trees thanks to this year’s Energy-Saving Trees Project.

This year marked the fourth annual event by the city of Holland and the Holland Board of Public Works. Energy-Saving Trees is a program of the Arbor Day Foundation and operates in 46 states.

The project is designed to engage and educate homeowners on the benefits of strategic tree planting for energy savings. On Saturday, Sept. 17, 400 trees were given away to HBPW residential electric customers to help them save energy on their electric bills and increase the urban tree canopy of Holland.

Using the U.S. Forest Service i-Tree software, homeowners could identify the optimum locations to plant the trees in their yards. Visit design.itreetools.org to see the benefits of trees in your yard.

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Besides energy savings, trees provide multiple community benefits, such as improving air quality, storing carbon, decreasing stormwater runoff, increasing property values and beautifying neighborhoods.

Trees improve air quality by absorbing atmospheric pollutants from combustion. Particulate matter such as pollen, smoke, dust, dirt and soot are retained on the plant surfaces, removing them from the air we breathe. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.

Trees are able to decrease stormwater runoff because their leaves and branches temporarily hold the rain on their surfaces while their roots help rain soak into the ground.

Trees reduce energy costs because of the shade they provide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, shaded areas can be 20 to 45 degrees cooler than the peak temperatures of an unshaded area.

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In the first three years, 1,164 trees were planted through Holland’s Energy-Saving Trees Project. In 20 years, these trees will have saved customers $590,000 in combined energy and community benefits, 545,000 kWh of electric energy and over five million gallons of stormwater. These trees will remove over three million pounds of carbon dioxide from the air and will absorb 8,000 pounds of air pollutants.

If you're an HBPW customer who missed reserving your tree this year, look for a flyer with your electric bill next summer. To learn more about Holland’s urban tree canopy, visit cityofholland.com/296/Urban-Tree-Canopy-Assessment.

Also visit hollandbpw.com and select “Ways to Save” to learn more about energy saving programs offered to electric customers.

— Jennifer Soukhome is the community energy services specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works

About this series

The MiSustainable Holland column is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme: Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Four hundred more trees will save energy, improve Holland’s health