Living Sustainably: Time to sign up for free, energy-saving trees in Holland

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works
The opportunity to get a free tree to help save energy is back.
For the second year in a row, through the Energy-Saving Trees program, Holland Board of Public Works residential electric customers can reserve a free tree to strategically plant in their yards this spring to save energy and lower utility bills.
From the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program began in 2012 and operates in more than 39 U.S. states. Organizations of all types have participated, including utility companies, city governments, state governments, corporations, and nonprofits.
The Holland Board of Public Works and the City of Holland are partnering to provide 500 trees in four species. Customers may choose between red maple, river birch, red bud, or Norway spruce trees.
These species thrive in our climate and soil conditions, and will help increase the Holland’s urban forest canopy. In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide and will help meet Holland’s Community Energy Plan goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to no more than 10 metric tons per capita by 2050.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, Energy-Saving Trees educates homeowners on the benefits of strategic tree planting for energy savings using an online mapping tool. The tool was created by the Arbor Day Foundation and the Davey Institute, a division of Davey Tree Expert Co.

The tool uses peer-reviewed scientific research from the USDA Forest Service’s i-Tree software to help participants plant trees in the most strategic location in their yards. The tool calculates the estimated benefits of the selected tree, including cost savings associated with reduced energy bills, cleaner air, reduced carbon dioxide emissions, and improved storm water management.
When planted properly, a single tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs.
While using the tool, customers will see their property and utility lines, and will be able to select a species, position it, and learn if it is in an optimal spot. If the tree is positioned in a safe place and submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to the customer once Board of Public Works staff confirm its placement.
Customers will need to call MissDig within the week before receiving their tree, as it is very important to know where to dig to avoid utility conflicts. Customers will be provided with tree care, maintenance, and placement resources upon registering and at the time of pick up.
Registration is open from Feb. 10 to mid-April, or until supplies last, at
The trees will be distributed at a pickup event from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday morning, April 25, at the BPW Service Center, 625 Hastings Ave, Holland. Participants need to be sure to either print their order confirmation, or have it readily available on their phone, at the pickup. We hope to see you there!
 Morgan Kelley is conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works and leads the residential energy waste reduction programs.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.

Hope College, City, and BPW helpers last year assisted Holland BPW customers get free trees to reduce energy use and improve the city tree canopy.
Holland BPW customers can get free trees and learn where to plant them to eventually reduce energy use by as much as 20 percent.
In the second year of the Energy-Saving Trees program, the city of Holland and Holland BPW will offer four species of trees that do well in our area.