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New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Bradley M. Campbell, Commissioner

City of Elizabeth
Mayor Chris Bollwage

 

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Jeanne M. Fox, President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2004

Contact: Elaine Makatura (DEP) 609-292-2994
Gloria Montealegre (BPU) 973-648-2134
William Reyes (City of Elizabeth) 908-820-4124

State Plants 1500 Trees in City of Elizabeth

DEP & BPU Continue to Green New Jersey through Cool Cities Initiative

(04/105) ELIZABETH -- Creating cleaner, greener cities throughout New Jersey, Board of Public Utilities (BPU) President Jeanne M. Fox and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today joined Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, local students and the New Jersey Tree Foundation to plant the first of 1500 shade trees in Elizabeth.

The tree planting is part of Cool Cities, a statewide urban forest energy-efficiency initiative that is designed to address the urban heat island effect by reducing summertime temperatures in cities through the shading of trees.

"Planting trees in Elizabeth reduces air pollution, lowers energy costs, and improves the overall quality of life in urban communities. Trees also help filter and clean water supplies, reduce water runoff, flooding, erosion and storm water management costs," said DEP Commissioner Campbell. "Simply put, urban trees make our cities healthier and more affordable places to live."

The DEP and the BPU launched Cool Cities last fall to green New Jersey's large cities by planting trees to reduce the demand for electricity and lower energy consumption. The BPU's Clean Energy Program has committed $5 million in funding for the Cool Cities initiative, planting 3,000 shade trees in Paterson and Trenton last fall and 500 trees in Newark last spring.

"The Cool Cities Initiative will promote energy conservation and "livable cities" through tree planting," said Jeanne M. Fox, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. "We hope to plant trees primarily in the large underserved cities of New Jersey with low tree coverage to save residents money, provide shade, reduce pollution and help residents breathe cleaner, greener air."

The New Jersey Tree Foundation, Groundwork Elizabeth and 6th, 7th and 8th grade students from St. Anthony's School helped plant approximately 9 Green Ash and Cumulus Serviceberry shade trees in the area of the school between 2nd and 3rd Streets. The remaining trees will be planted in the Peterstown community of the city.

"The Cool Cities initiative is an impressive urban environmental program that the City of Elizabeth is excited to be a part of," said Mayor Chris Bollwage. "The trees will bring new life, long term economic benefits, increased property values, and a renewed sense of community to the Peterstown area of our city. We all look forward to a greener and cooler City as a result of this great collaboration of agencies and partners."

The city of Elizabeth, in partnership with the nonprofit Groundwork Elizabeth, will ensure the continued maintenance and stewardship of the trees in Elizabeth.

This summer, the DEP and the New Jersey Tree Foundation also began collecting data to measure the energy benefits derived from the 3,000 trees planted in Trenton and Paterson last fall. The data will enable them to predict future energy savings as the trees continue to grow and shade the city.

This fall, the Cool Cities initiative will bring trees to the cities of Orange, Passaic and Union, as well as additional trees to Paterson and Trenton.

Temperatures in urban settings are often five degrees above surrounding suburbs and rural areas, which is referred to as the "urban heat island" effect, and trees can help lower these urban temperatures by as much as six to 19 degrees. Studies show that a 25-foot tree can reduce annual heating costs of a typical residence by eight to 12 percent.

Higher temperatures in cities can also cause health problems for many urban residents. Hotter weather increases the incidence of heat exhaustion, for example, and induces more asthma attacks because heat concentrates air pollution and speeds up smog formation. Further, higher temperatures result in more expensive utility bills as residents run their air conditioners longer.

In addition to providing shade from the sun, trees cool the air by emitting droplets of water that draw heat as they evaporate, which is a process called "evapotranspiration." Trees absorb sound, prevent erosion and provide habitats for birds and animals. Their leaves help improve air quality by absorbing noxious gases and trapping particulate matter. Trees make towns more attractive to business and tourism, transforming a neighborhood's appearance and increasing home market value, as they bring nature closer to where we live and work.

 

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