UIC’s green efforts earn Tree Campus USA designation

campusUIC has earned another distinction for growing a healthy, urban forest on campus.

The recognition comes from Tree Campus USA, a national program created by the Arbor Day Foundation, which is the largest nonprofit conservation and education organization.

Every year, the program honors colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for keeping communities engaged in conservation efforts. UIC has won this designation since 2011.

“This is our eighth year in a row,” said Lisa Sanzenbacher, assistant director for sustainability projects. “What that says is that the university cares about the health of our forest.”

To be named a Tree Campus USA, institutions must meet five standards, which include having a tree advisory committee, implementing a tree care plan, dedicating a program with annual expenditures to conservation, leading a student service-learning project, and holding an Arbor Day observance.

UIC is among 364 U.S. campuses to earn the designation, thanks to collaborative efforts from departments like the Office of Sustainability and Facilities Management, which receive specific, long-term solutions for tree care from the Bartlett Tree Experts.

“We have taken more of a proactive role in the maintenance of the tree canopy,” said Carly Rizor, superintendent of grounds, about how the university now cares for its 4,000 trees. “We’ve instituted a more active inventory and health assessment, we have partnered with various companies to help make that happen and then we just make sure to act on those recommendations.

“We also keep track of information that’s required for Tree Campus USA, whether that’s the number of trees removed, the overall investment, time, materials, equipment, etc. We track that information and translate that to sustainability.”

Other groups that have helped with UIC’s green initiatives include the Chancellor’s Committee on Sustainability and Energy, the Tree Care Committee and students from the Sustainability Internship Program. Their efforts are benefitting the campus, impacting everything from aesthetics to air quality.

“We want to make sure that the campus is a beautiful and relaxing place so that people want to come and stay,” Rizor said.

To learn more about trees on campus or to join a committee, visit sustainability.uic.edu.

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