TreePeople Offers to Join School Repair Program

An urban forestry group that has planted tens of thousands of trees across the Southland asked Wednesday to join the Los Angeles Unified School District's massive bond-financed repair program by incorporating cooling, oxygen-producing trees into nearly every school.

Andy Lipkis, founder and president of TreePeople, said smart planting that shaded playgrounds, buildings and air-conditioning units would lower energy costs, reduce exposure to ultraviolet light and engage students in improving their campuses.

"It's a tremendous opportunity to create greener, safer, softer campuses where kids want to be," Lipkis said.

Lipkis made the proposal to a committee that reviews spending of the $2.4-billion Proposition BB bond measure passed by Los Angeles voters in April.

Reacting enthusiastically, members of the committee asked Lipkis to present a detailed plan and budget at their next meeting in October.

Lipkis told the committee that the planting could be paid for with private donations and government funds geared to energy conservation.

Acknowledging that district funds would be needed to maintain the trees once they matured, Lipkis said the savings in future electricity bills resulting from the cooling effect of the trees would more than make up the expense.

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