Project trEE-O2—with a capital “EE” to stand for energy efficiency and O2 to represent cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions—is a sustainable tree planting program that strategically plants trees to help with energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide sequestering.
trEE-O2 will reach Parkersburg and nine other communities in Iowa ranging in population from under 1,000 to the second most populated city in Iowa, Cedar Falls.
Aesthetically pleasing and energy saving
TrEE-O2 will plant two different classes of trees in the state: wind break trees and large shade trees. “Wind break trees divert a portion of cold winds up and over a building structure, slowing wind speed down by roughly 50 percent,” says Borchardt.
“That’s a lot less cold air infiltrating homes. It’s a very practical and common sense way to cut heating bills in the winter and can save between 10 and 15 percent.”
Large shade trees are planted in strategic locations around structures to provide shading. These trees—often oak or maple—can save up to 30 percent in summer cooling costs when widely casting their shade.
The trees will be planted within the next year, primarily during the major fall and spring planting seasons. Borchardt hopes that 750 trees will be planted each season.
In order to help local business, Borchardt explains that the trees are purchased from nurseries in or near the community.
Volunteers foster community and growth
Once planted, it’s essential to monitor the trees’ growth and development, which is where training volunteers comes in. Project trEE-O2 has been doing awareness and outreach through city councils and service clubs. Ideally, Borchardt says that these involved volunteers will continue to strengthen the group in their community and educate others on the benefits of trees while caring for and monitoring tree growth and development.
“People are beginning to realize that trees are a lot more than just a pretty addition to your yard or school. They can work for you and provide great benefits,” says Borchardt.