Carbon Sequestration Tree Study at Bunker Hill Community College

A unique opportunity presented itself to work outside the (building) box and study landscape impacts on energy efficiency. aMortonDesign is collaborating with Gilmore Landscape Architecture on a study of existing campus trees at Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). Drawing our inspiration from BHCC’s recently completed LEED Gold Health & Wellness Center and the GreenPACT Climate Action Plan, we proposed to quanitfy the carbon sequestration benefits of existing campus trees.

Working with Paul Wolff, Director of The Office of Sustainability Management, we identified trees as a rich subject to demonstrate how landscape benefits building energy usage, air quality, stormwater runoff, and carbon footprint. Using field study and entering data into i-Tree, a USDA Forest Service tool, we will be able to show real climate and economic benefits from the existing “urban forest”. We will also be able to show future benefits as these trees grow and advise on additional plantings and maintenance strategies toward the College’s goal of climate neutrality.

We presented our proposal at a recent Climate Action Committee Meeting along with students groups who are studying improving recycling / composting and bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Another guest presenter was Rob Gogan, “Recycling Czar” for Harvard University who spoke about what they have learned in implementing single-stream recycling.

Our presentation focused on the study of Carbon Sequestration with the goal of quantifying what existing trees are already contributing. This was in direct response to the carbon mitigation goals outlined in the GreenPACT Climate Action Plan which has the goal of climate neutrality. As part of this process we see opportunities for further greening the campus for aesthetic, climate, and economic benefits. 

There are myriad opportunities for student involvement and curriculum development as well. Presently the college has a Building Dashboard which tracks building energy usage and offsets; a Carbon Emission Project and Calculator from the Developmental Math department; an Urban Organic Garden Project; and a Student Sustainability Club which studies and advocates for policy and behavior change.

We look forward to reconvening and working with students during Earth Week festivities April 23-25.