Tree Planting Provides $121 in Annual Benefits to UIC

Over a dozen students came out to UIC’s west campus on a rainy April Fool’s Day morning, made possible by funding from megabus.com and the Arbor Day Foundation.  A Northern Hackberry and a Tulip Tree were selected because of their ability to thrive in an urban environment. Both of the trees measured about 3 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) and are expected to provide $64 in benefits every year. If the trees are adequately cared for, which they will be since UIC is an award winning Tree Campus USA member, they will provide at least $121 in benefits every year!

The Northern Hackberry, (C. occidentalis) which is a Chicago native and is known to be a thriving urban tree, is a low maintenance tree surviving industrial conditions and harsh winters. The Northern Hackberry is also a suitable tree for nesting sites for birds. The Northern Hackberry that was placed on UIC’s campus is roughly 40 feet tall and is known to attract pollinators. It was placed in an area where not many trees are located to increase the biodiversity of the west campus.

The other tree that was placed just around the corner of the UIC co-generation plant was a Tulip tree, (L. tulipifera) which are one of the largest native trees in North America. It can grow up to 60 feet, and grows at a rapid rate. There is only one other Tulip tree at UIC, located on the east side of campus.

The soil where the two trees were located was mostly gravel, so potting soil was added to enrich and enhance the ability of the trees to take root. The two trees are a great addition to the UIC forest of more than 5,300 trees!

The planting of these two trees will provide several important benefits and will help UIC achieve many of our Climate Commitment goals:

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 1: Carbon Neutral Campus.

Trees conserve energy by shading areas which reduces heat that many buildings can absorb, also effectively reducing the heat island effect which is critical in an urban environment. Trees canopies also reduce winds which can help retain heat in buildings. The two trees that were planted at UIC today will each conserve 28 Kilowatt/hours of electricity for cooling and reduce the consumption of oil or natural gas by 13 therms.

One of the most important components of planting trees in urban areas is the amount of carbon they sequester. The two new trees that were planted at UIC today will reduce carbon emission by 103 pounds each. It is important to understand how trees sequester carbon: essentially the roots, trunk, stems, and leaves collect the carbon dioxide and convert it to food for the tree and oxygen for us.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 3: Net Zero Water Campus.

This Tulip and Hackberry act as storm water reservoirs and can reduce run off. Trees reduce run off by several different means, for example, the leaves, branches, and bark collect the rain reducing run off. The trees root system filters and stores large amount of storm water as well. UIC aims to reduce storm water by 10% by 2020 and 25% by 2030.

UIC Climate Commitment Goal 4: Biodiverse Campus.

Trees selectively absorb pollutants in the air such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide through their leaves effectively improving the air quality on the UIC campus.  These two trees will help increase biodiversity in the campus forestry. A high level of biodiversity is important because a balanced makeup of trees helps lessen susceptibility to insects and diseases that predominantly affect one species or genus. This can help prevent the associated catastrophic loss.  It is the goal of UIC to increase tree biodiversity by planting no more than 5% of the campus tree inventory with trees of the same species and 10% of the same genus. The C. occidentalis and L. tulipifera help us climb higher to that goal.

All data was calculated through the National Tree Benefit Calculator, provided by www.treebenefits.com/calculator. You can read more about the UIC Climate Commitments here. See what Edder, a former Treetern, had to say about this event.