This year VT UCF offered Newport City and Bennington area residents with free trees to plant in their yard through Energy Saving Trees, an Arbor Day Foundation program. The trees will help to cool homes in the summer, saving homeowners money on energy costs in the process.
The tree giveaway was coordinated in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health’s Climate & Health Program.
The program targeted the urbanized areas of Newport City and Bennington, areas that have high densities of exposed asphalt and rooftops but limited tree cover. Eligible residents were able to reserve up to two free trees selected from a list of available species through our website. The Energy Saving Trees website platform provided guidance about where best to plant the trees to receive the most energy benefit, and as each resident picked up their new tree(s), they were instructed on proper tree planting and establishment, and given handouts on tree care.
When planted properly, a single mature tree can save a homeowner up to 20 percent on energy costs. Trees provide shade in hot weather and a wind barrier in cold weather. For homes without air conditioning, shade trees can make the home feel cooler during summer heat. Planting trees can also:
- Add to a home’s property value
- Reduce a homeowner’s carbon footprint
- Improve air quality
- Reduce stormwater runoff
- Provide food and shelter for wildlife
“One impact of climate change in Vermont is increasingly hotter summers,” said Jared Ulmer, Climate & Health Program Manager with the Health Department. “Planting more trees will help keep our urban areas cooler while using less energy. It will also provide many other healthy community benefits for cleaner air, water and improved wildlife habitats.”
108 preordered trees were given to Bennington residents and 92 were given to Newport City residents. The trees were in containers and were picked up by their new owners on a sunny Saturday afternoon in June.
The program was a great success this year and the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program hopes to be able to offer it again in the future.
To learn more about factors that increase risk for heat illnesses in your community using the Vermont Heat Vulnerability Index, visit the Health Department’s Climate & Health Program.