Efforts to Improve Air Quality in the Bronx Move Ahead
April 1, 2009
Bronx, NY— As part of a long term New York City and New York State partnership, Bronx Community (BCC) College President Carolyn G. Williams and students from BCC’s Ornamental Horticulture Program (OH), joined with officials from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Bartlett Tree Expert Company on Wednesday, April 1st to initiate the second phase of a borough-wide tree planting program. Ninety-four trees will be planted at specified locations throughout the campus as part of a larger NYSERDA program known as Greening the Bronx, which aims to improve local air quality while providing other energy related benefits. BCC is located at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street.
“Greening of the Bronx will increase the number of trees planted in the Bronx, which will, as the trees mature, enhance the aesthetics of neighborhoods, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and produce shade that will reduce the electricity needed to cool buildings, thereby decreasing the summertime electric load,” said Governor David A. Paterson when the project was first announced in 2007.
NYSERDA, on behalf of New York City, is administering this $10 million Urban Reforestation project to plant approximately 6,000 trees throughout the boroughs parks, curbsides, and other public areas; to support outreach and stewardship activities, and to conduct measurement and evaluation to estimate the impact of the program. The increase in foliage is expected to reduce the heat island effect in this large urban area.
“This is an important event for our Biology Department‘s Ornamental Horticulture Program (OH) which focuses on training students in a solid background of biology, chemistry and the humanities,” stated Dr. Williams.
“We have an association with the New York Botanical Garden where we send our OH majors to train in the basics of general horticulture, landscaping and floristry. Our students cultivate their appreciation of plants and their impact on humans.”
Guidance regarding the planting locations and tree species is based on the findings of a 2006 NYSERDA study titled, “Mitigating New York City’s Heat Island with Urban Forestry, Living Roofs and Light Surfaces.” Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality. Heat Island Effect
Francis J. Murray, Jr. President and CEO of NYSERDA said, “The implementation of this urban reforestation program will provide environmental and energy related benefits to the Bronx, New York City, and our State for years to come. Under Governor David A. Paterson’s leadership, we welcome the opportunity to work with our partners-Bronx Community College and the City of New York-to enhance our urban environment.”
The urban heat island effect occurs when impervious surfaces such as roads and buildings absorb solar radiation, and re-emit it in the form of infrared radiation that heats up the surrounding atmosphere. The development of a heat island has regional-scale impacts on energy demand, air quality, and public health. Heat island mitigation efforts, through increased tree planting and vegetation for shade, could reduce average near-surface air temperatures in urban areas by 1-3°F and reduce a buildings cooling energy consumption by up to 25 percent annually. Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, a 1°F decrease in temperature can mean as much as a 1.5—2 percent reduction in peak electric loads for medium and large cities. Cooling Summertime Temperatures
“The Greening the Bronx program will, in the long-term, reduce the strain on the electric grid and help mitigate emissions from electric generating facilities and other sources,” Murray adds.
Ten species of trees will be planted on the campus by the Bartlett Tree Expert Company over the next 10 days. They include: Dawn Redwood, London Plane, Little Leaf Linden, Saw Tooth Oak, Pears, Hornbeams, Sophora, Sweet Gum, Katsura, Hawthorn and Serviceberry.
Some of the trees are from New York State nurseries. They were selected based on the NYSERDA study and because they are durable enough to handle pollution and other urban conditions.
“While the new trees will help to beautify the campus and perimeter streetscapes, they will also provide shade to the pavements, parking lots and sidewalks to reduce the heat absorption of hardscapes such as asphalt and concrete during the summer months. It is hoped that over time as the trees mature the micro climate in the borough of the Bronx will be improved by increasing the number of shaded areas and lowering neighborhood air temperature,” stated Andre Hurni, BCC’s architect and director of campus planning.
Over the next 10 days, three to four-man Bartlett crews will plant the trees which are required to be three inches in diameter and 7 feet high. Each tree will get added nutrients and a 30-gallon bag that is filled with water. The bag has a perforated bottom for slow drip watering. Bartlett will fill the bags as well as prune, fertilize and test the new trees for insect and diseases as needed over the next two years.
Trevor Hall, arborist and tree expert for the Bartlett Company, said, “We have been working on the 43-acre campus doing some pruning. We recognized the need for new trees. The BCC campus was a good match for the NYSERDA “Greening of the Bronx” tree planting program. After some discussion with Andre Hurni, BCC’s architect and director of campus planning, we included the campus in a larger contract,” Hall said. Bartlett and other community groups have contracts with NYSERDA to plant trees in community planning board districts one through nine.
Sal Graven, NYSERDA
518-862-1090, ext 3331
Last Updated: 11/26/2012