Eye on the Future: Greening Penn

TREE HUGGERS: Penn is focused on finding ways to reduce its carbon footprint and be a conscious environmental steward. The Green Campus Partnership, the University’s umbrella organization that leads environmental efforts, has several initiatives that encourage campus sustainability, from green dorm certification and the Eco-Reps program, to the Creating Canopy program, an annual tree giveaway.

LEAVES OF GREEN: This spring, in fact, marks the third Creating Canopy program. This year, Penn is partnering with the City of Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department to give away free trees to Penn and UPHS faculty and staff who pre-register. Only Penn and UPHS employees who own a home in Philadelphia are eligible to receive a free tree.

SIGN UP: Faculty and staff who want a tree must fill out a registration form by May 10, found on the Creating Canopy program website. Trees can be picked up in the parking lot at Penn Park on May 16 and May 21 between 3 and 6 p.m.

GREEN WORKS: According to Bob Lundgren, University landscape architect, the idea for a tree giveaway program began with Plant One Million, a regional partnership led by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to plant one million trees throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The city has its own initiative, TreePhilly, which is part of both Mayor Michael Nutter’s Greenworks program, as well as Plant One Million. Lundgren says the city approached Penn for help with its tree-planting initiative, and the University jumped on board.

GARDEN VARIETY: Tree-planters will have a choice of species, but the number of trees in each species is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis after registration. Lundgren says all trees are urban-tolerant and will likely include the small varieties Eastern Redbud, Forest Pansy Redbud (with purple foliage), Cherokee Princess Florida Dogwood (with a white flower), Japanese Kousa Dogwood (with a white flower), Rutgers Stellar Pink Dogwood, Sugar Tyme Crabapple, Snowgoose Cherry (with a white flower), and Yoshino Cherry. Large varieties include River Birch, Tulip Poplar, Willow Oak, and Swamp White Oak.

ALL (GREEN) THUMBS: Never planted a tree before? Not to worry, there’s plenty of information for first-timers on the Creating Canopy website. Tree-planters will also be sent home with some tips for successfully planting and caring for a new tree.

SUSTAINABLE ACTS: Dan Garofalo, the University’s environmental sustainability coordinator, says that the Creating Canopy program dovetails with Penn’s overall sustainability goals. The benefits of trees are many: They help soak up stormwater, lessening runoff into rivers, creeks, and sewer systems. As more places are concerned with adaptating to a warming climate, Garofalo says trees can create shade and reduce the “heat island” effect, transport moisture into the air, clean the air, and create habitats. “All those different things are part of our environmental goals,” he says. In addition, it’s a way for Penn to connect with Philadelphia. “This is our contribution, our engagement with the whole city.”

MORE INFO: For registration information, visit the Creating Canopy website.

Creating Canopy