Living Sustainably: Free trees can help cut energy use

A properly planted tree can help a homeowner save up to 20 percent on energy use. And Holland Board of Public Works residential electric customers can reserve a free tree this spring to strategically plant in their yards to save energy and lower utility bills. Image result for arbor day and right tree right place

From the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program began in 2012, and operates in 37 U.S. states. More than 70 organizations have participated, including utility companies, city governments, state governments, corporations, and nonprofits. This is the first time the program has been offered in Michigan.
The Holland BPW and the City of Holland are partnering to provide 300 trees in four species.
Customers may choose from among red maple, river birch, royal star magnolia, or prairie fire crabapple.
These species thrive in our climate and soil conditions, and will help the urban canopy move from 25 percent to the city’s goal of 36 percent. In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide, and will help drive Holland’s Community Energy Plan goal of cutting per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees program educates homeowners about 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., and 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 HBPW 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. 11 to mid-April, or until supplies last, at

For people who have a confirmed order from their online registration, the trees will be distributed at a pickup event on Saturday morning, April 27, at the BPW Service Center, 625 Hastings Ave, Holland, from 8 a.m. to noon. At the pickup, participants should be sure to either print their order confirmation or have it readily available on a phone. 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
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

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.