This year on Earth Day, six weeks into the COVID-19 quarantine and lockdown, Michael Ziman, president and CEO of New Jersey–based Ziman Development, witnessed satellite photos of the Himalayan Mountains taken from over 100 miles away. The site had not been viewed from that distance in over 30 years due to smog and pollution, and Ziman walked away inspired to help the environment and become carbon neutral in his business.
Through some research, Ziman discovered that nature provides the perfect solution in trees, because they naturally breathe in carbon dioxide and expel fresh oxygen. Now committed to planting more trees to help reduce carbon levels, he has launched the One Tree Pledge, a sustainability program designed to help residential and commercial construction companies negate carbon emissions associated with buildings.
Ziman is encouraging builders nationwide to make the One Tree Pledge and agree to plant one tree for every one square foot of housing built. He has partnered with American Forests, the nation’s oldest national nonprofit conservation organization, to make it easier for builders to achieve the commitment. For every $1 donated, one tree will be planted.
“As an owner/operator in construction, specializing in beach homes, it was important for me to align my outdoor interests with my values,” says Ziman. “When I discovered I could offset greenhouse gas emissions from my building activities by planting trees, it was a scalable game-changer. Not only can I make a positive impact on the environment, I can now invite other builders to join me by making the One Tree Pledge.”
According to the U.S. Energy Administration, a 2,386-square-foot American home releases 20,260 pounds of carbon annually through the combined consumption of electricity and natural gas. Jad Daley, CEO of American Forests, says the average tree consumes 10 pounds of carbon per year. As a result, Ziman determined that if one tree was planted for every one square foot of an average home, the trees would consume or sequester 23,680 pounds of carbon on annual basis, surpassing the 20,260 pounds released annually by a home.
“Forests are the best nature-based solution to climate change,” says Daley. “Now, more than ever, we must take action to conserve and restore our forests to combat climate change, preserve essential wildlife habitat, and ensure our supply of clean air and water.”
With the aim of planting 10 million trees by the end of 2021, Ziman invites all builders and construction companies to join the campaign. Those who make the pledge will receive a certificate acknowledging their commitment, as well as publicity on the One Tree Pledge website. Builders can sign the pledge or learn more by visiting www.onetreepledge.org.