Finding Allies in Unexpected Places

A unique partnership helps homeowners plant free trees in their yards and lower their energy bills.

Sure, Texas is hot. Isn’t it supposed to be hot? It is, after all, Texas.

This might have been a fair statement a few years ago, but record-setting summer temps in 2022 and 2023 are a sure sign that it’s getting too hot to handle in Houston. That’s why tree planting efforts here are more important than ever before.

To help residents tackle this problem head-on, Trees for Houston has once again partnered with local energy company CenterPoint Energy and the Arbor Day Foundation to distribute 1,000 free trees to residents to plant in the right place in their yards for lower energy use and lower energy bills.

The process was made simple for homeowners and partners alike thanks to the Foundation’s tree distribution registration portal.

“This is a research-based, easy-to-use online mapping tool that takes the guesswork out of tree planting. This tool focuses on homeowner education and maximizing environmental impact,” said Gary O’Neil, the forester for CenterPoint Energy.

But the entire 13-year legacy of tree distribution through this program — nearly 19,000 trees total — was made possible because of the strong ties between Trees for Houston and CenterPoint Energy.

In addition to cohosting regular energy-saving tree giveaways for residents, CenterPoint Energy provides the land at no cost for Trees for Houston’s tree farm. This is a win-win, as the nonprofit has a centrally located space within Houston to operate from while the utility company has direct access to a source for trees as needed. And both organizations have an appreciation for this close relationship.

“Without CenterPoint, I don’t think we would have been able to operate at the capacity that we’ve been able to. From an operational perspective, that has been extremely important. But also, there’s a lot of cross promotion between the two organizations,” said Katherine Newton, projects director for Trees for Houston. “We are both supporters of each other.”

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