Free Trees for Homeowners to Keep Communities Cool

Energy saving trees line a paved street.

MONTPELIER—Newport and Bennington area residents will soon receive 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 is being coordinated by the Vermont Urban & Community Forestry Program, a partnership between the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, University of Vermont Extension, and the Vermont Department of Health’s Climate & Health Program.

The program is targeting urbanized areas of Newport, Bennington, North Bennington, and South Shaftsbury that have high densities of exposed asphalt and rooftops but limited tree cover. Residents can quickly find out if their home is eligible and reserve up to two free trees selected from a list of available species by visiting the Energy-Saving Trees website at vtcommunityforestry.org/est. The website also provides guidance about where best to plant the trees to receive the most energy benefit.

“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,” said Danielle Fitzko, Urban & Community Forestry Program Manager. “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.”

Preordered trees in containers will be available for pick-up at the Bennington Battle Monument and Newport Recycling Center on June 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Most trees will be between two to four feet tall at the time of pickup.

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.

Learn more about growing and caring for trees at the Urban & Community Forestry Program website.

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