Living Sustainably: Holland’s Energy-Saving Trees Program nets 300 plantings

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works
The Holland Board of Public Works partnered with the City of Holland this past April to provide the Energy-Saving Trees Program, a project that netted 300 new trees in the community.
Developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, the Energy-Saving Trees Program educates homeowners about the energy-saving benefits of strategic tree planting. Holland is the first place it was run in Michigan. The program has an online mapping tool that allows individuals to see their property and utility lines, select a species, and position it in an optimal spot.
Through the project, Board of Public Works electric customers planted 300 trees in strategic locations in yards across the Holland community to save energy and lower utility bills.
The program proved to be very successful with 90 percent of surveyed participants likely to recommend the program to a friend or colleague. Participants were pleased with the ease of selecting their tree species and placement in their yards using the online tool.
Participants’ reasons why they would recommend the program include: the excellent health of the trees provided, how easy the planting instructions were to follow, increased energy efficiency in the long- term, helping the environment, beautifying landscapes, and benefiting the Holland community overall.
In addition to recommending the program, over 95 percent of surveyed participants reported that thei tree is healthy and growing or else leafy and starting to grow.
Also, participants found the online tool informative for matters such as avoiding overhead utility lines, avoiding underground utility lines, planting in a location that reduces energy consumption, learning about the benefits that trees provide, including energy savings, stormwater filtration, air pollution absorption, and carbon sequestration.
The carbon sequestration benefit helps drive Holland’s Community Energy Plan metric of cutting per capita greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
When asked about overall experience, 50 percent of participants expressed that they now have a more positive view about planting trees, and over 70 percent feel that they made their community a better place by planting a tree.
The City of Holland’s goal is to have 36 percent tree canopy. It currently is at 24 percent. Private property plantings have been, and will continue to be, vital in reaching this goal.
Participating in Energy-Saving Trees is a way that residents can help. The Holland Board of Public Works and the City of Holland plan to run the program in 2020, so be sure to check the Board of Public Works website in February to reserve your tree!
 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.

About this Series  
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 www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.