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Somerville's getting 150 trees greener

By sarah | April 2, 2009

By Tiffani N. Garlic
Somerville, NJ (April 2, 2009)- Money may not grow on trees, but Somerville is trying to save some by planting them. The borough is working with the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Community Forestry Cool Cities Initiative to help offset residents’ energy costs by planting 150 shade trees in the borough this spring.

D’Errico said that the goal of the program is to bring trees back to town landscapes and create “urban forests” that would allow residents to enjoy a 10- to 12-degree decrease in temperature in the summer. “It’s like having mini air conditioners on the street,” he said.
On average suburban areas are covered by 37 percent trees. “Somerville is a community, although not in the single digits, that certainly needs trees,” DEP supervising forrester Michael D’Errico said of the borough’s 17 percent coverage.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to plant trees and have a nice streetscape in residential neighborhoods,” said Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher said.
“Trees can be a great asset, but they can also be a great liability,” D’Errico explained, which is why he said the DEP is taking great care in choosing the right tree for the right sites. Selecting trees that won’t grow to interfere with power lines or whose roots won’t spill over into the street is critical, he said.
The borough is still deciding where to put the trees, but D’Errico estimated that planting could begin this month. “Once the tree is planted it’s the responsibility of the borough,” he said. “They become residents now and hopefully they stay residents for 60 years.”
Trees are also being planted in 23 other towns throughout New Jersey.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, one fully grown shade tree has the cooling power of 10 air conditioners running 20 hours a day. In addition to cooling areas by naturally absorbing water and sunlight, each tree will absorb eight pounds of air pollution a year.
Since partnering with the DEP’s initiative in 2004 over 24,000 trees have been planted across New Jersey and are expected to save over $25 million in electricity.
The trees are being paid for with funds from the Board of Public Utilities Clean Energy program. The BPU contributes $4 million each year to residential, commercial, and municipal customers committed to using clean renewable sources of energy.
Related Resources:
Trees and Energy Savings
Energy Efficiency through Trees Act
Star Ledger- Somerville’s getting 150 trees greener

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