Neighborwoods Month logo





Every October, community groups, city residents, local government, and volunteers across the country unite for greener communities during Alliance for Community Trees’ National NeighborWoods® Month . Together, they’ll plant trees, green up neighborhood parks, restore natural areas, eliminate invasives, and educate youth about trees, the environment, and sustainability.


It’s a coast-to-coast campaign to take action for trees in our communities. There’s lots to celebrate, and a lot at stake. Last year, the U.S. Forest Service found  that tree cover in urban areas of the U.S. is on the decline at a rate of about 4 million trees per year.


Yet trees in cities are critical to people’s health and the larger environment. Trees are a community’s lungs, providing us oxygen and removing air pollution. A 2013 U.S. Forest Service study  in 10 major U.S. cities showed that urban forests clean the air and save lives.


Trees in cities also reduce stress and provide a sense of well-being. A recent survey found that urban dwellers with access to trees, parks, and green spaces reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction than those without these nearby. Trees and landscaping can also improve residential property values up to 30% or more.


Last year during National NeighborWoods® Month, over 23,000 volunteers planted 45,000 trees nationwide, donating volunteer time worth an estimated $1.4 million. Check out the infographic on the results and the impact to people and our planet.


Tree Planting


Each year these 45,000 trees are estimated to:


  • Capture 23.1M gallons of storm water.
  • Dispose of over 660 tons of air pollutants.
  • Save cities nearly $600,000 in storm water management and pollution costs.


To encourage Americans to participate in National NeighborWoods® Month and bring the many benefits of trees  to all our communities, the USDA is partnering with us to help spread the word. In a video message, Butch Blazer, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, encourages everyone to “get involved both personally and professionally.”


There are already hundreds of local tree events being organized for this national celebration. To kick off the month, Alliance for Community Trees is proud to partner with national sponsors to support local tree plantings. For example, TD Tree Days planting events will install over 900 new trees in 15 cities to expand and restore urban canopy—like in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ, where 75 new trees will help the city to replant after Superstorm Sandy.


CSX and community volunteers will plant 100 new street and shade trees in Nashville's Buena Vista neighborhood, which has the city's lowest tree canopy outside downtown. And over 25 events sponsored by CSX will deliver trees to communities through tree giveaways and riparian plantings, improving the health of community watersheds and residential neighborhoods. 


People understand instinctively that trees are vital to communities and that our collective actions can make a difference. This is why tens of thousands of volunteers pitch in to plant and care for trees with local organizations and city governments during October’s National NeighborWoods® Month.


Get involved. Register any tree events you're holding this month to be part of the celebration, or find events near you to volunteer. Together we're showing that trees matter in our communities. Please join with us at www.NeighborWoodsMonth.org.


Leland Milstein

Leland Milstein is Program Director at Alliance for Community Trees (ACTrees), a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the health and livability of cities by planting and caring for trees. Leland manages ACTrees' public programs including National NeighborWoods® Month, Community Grovesâ„ , tree planting, and education. He holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University.


STAR Communities Logo



STAR Communities is pleased to announce the opportunity for U.S. cities and counties to measure progress towards community sustainability through participation in the 2014 Leadership STAR Community Program. The Leadership Program is based on the success of the STAR Community Rating System’s pilot program. For the past 10 months, more than 30 cities and counties from across the US and Canada have been tracking their sustainability progress using the STAR Community Rating System (STAR) – the first national framework and certification program for community sustainability.


The Rating System, which is available for FREE online, provides a much-needed vocabulary for communities to more effectively strategize and define local sustainability planning efforts. STAR’s goals and objectives present a vision of how their communities could become more healthy, resilient, and prosperous across seven specific categories encompassing the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainability.


Working through the rating system with other communities helped participants reflect on their existing programs and learn from one another. Dylan Siegler, Sustainability Manager at the City of Austin Office of Sustainability says, “The City of Austin has supported the STAR rating system from its inception . . . STAR allows us to fairly evaluate Austin’s strengths as well as understand our challenges. At the same time, STAR [Communities] will provide the resources to learn from peer cities across North America about their successful sustainability programs and strategies.”


As the pilot program wraps up, and the pilot communities begin to submit their data for certification, STAR Communities is now looking to the future and to the next group of leadership communities. With extensive support from STAR Communities staff, the selected Leadership STAR Communities will work through the STAR Community Rating System together with the goal of becoming certified sustainable communities. Local governments that achieve a certified STAR Community Rating are recognized as leaders in sustainability and gain a deep understanding of their community’s strengths and needs to support current and future generations.


In partnership with the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN), STAR Communities will offer financial assistance to a limited number of communities that demonstrate need and the ability to leverage local philanthropic support for their participation in the Leadership STAR Community Program. The full program application and guidelines for financial assistance are available at www.STARcommunities.org. The deadline for submission is October 15, 2013.


Lacey Shaver, Outreach & Program Coordinator


Guest Post by Lacey Shaver,  Outreach & Program Coordinator, STAR Communities


The STAR Community Rating System was initiated and supported by founding partners ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, the U.S. Green Building Council, National League of Cities and the Center for American Progress.




School is back in session and EPA is  here to help you get to the top of the class! Join EPA  for a series of free webinars to learn how to use EPA’s new Portfolio Manager tool and improve energy efficiency.

See the full list of upcoming trainings at  https://esbuildings.webex.com/mw0307l/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=esbuildings

How to Apply for the ENERGY STAR
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 2:00 pm EDT
Join us to learn about applying for ENERGY STAR Certification in Portfolio Manager. Understand the value of the ENERGY STAR certification, see the step-by-step process of applying, and gain tips to help your property get from application to award.


Data Center Energy Efficiency Opportunities: What Managers Should Know
Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm EDT
Through this easy to understand presentation on data center energy efficiency opportunities, gain an understanding of the drivers of data center energy costs; common energy savings opportunities; how to spot these opportunities and initiate changes; and available resources for further assistance.

Portfolio Manager 101
Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm EDT
Get started using EPA’s Portfolio Manager tool. EPA will introduce and demonstrate the core functionality of Portfolio Manager tool, including how to enter properties, enter energy and water data, share data with others, and generate performance reports.


Portfolio Manager 201
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm EDT
Take a deeper dive into the more advanced functionalities of Portfolio Manager such as managing changes in property uses over time, using spreadsheet templates to quickly upload data, setting goals, and creating custom reports.

Computer Power Management with ENERGY STAR
Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 1 pm EDT
Realize substantial energy and financial savings available through ENERGY STAR computer power management offerings.


The Federal Guiding Principles Checklist in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager
Thursday, September 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm EDT
Tailored to Federal energy and sustainability professionals, learn how to use Portfolio Manager to help ensure compliance with the Guiding Principles for High Performance Sustainable Buildings required by Executive Orders 13423 and 13514.

Portfolio Manager “Office Hours”
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm EDT
Get answers to your questions about Portfolio Manager’s features and calculations by joining this open office hours session. Even if you don’t have a question, join in to hear what others are asking.

Benchmarking Water/Wastewater Treatment Facilities in Portfolio Manager
Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 2 pm EDT
Learn how to track energy use and carbon dioxide emission reductions in wastewater treatment plants, set goals, assess the progress of energy efficiency efforts, and compare the energy use of wastewater treatment plants to other facilities across the country.

Happy Training!

EPA’s ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings Program

For more information, visit: www.energystar.gov.  If you have any questions, please contact estraining@icfi.com.