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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Dylan Schmidt, a sophomore at Weber State University, digs a hole for an autumn brilliance serviceberry tree on the Ogden campus on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

OGDEN — Volunteers turned out this past week to plant trees on the Weber State University campus, a move which not only celebrates the observance of Earth Day on Monday but also solidifies the university's designation as a Tree Campus USA.

The Arbor Day Foundation classification also requires a campus to have a tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan and dedicated annual expenditures for its campus tree program.

Planting trees is an activity that is annual tradition of the university's observance of Earth Day.

As part of that celebration, the Davis campus will also host a lawnmower and trimmer exchange from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 27 in its parking lot.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Students from Weber State University and Shadow Valley Elementary School plant trees on the WSU campus in Ogden on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

Residents of Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele and Utah counties who entered and were selected from a random lottery are eligible for a $99 electric lawn mower or $49 trimmer when they trade in an old, gas-powered tool.

This year’s lawn mower exchange program will provide 1,259 electric mowers and 972 trimmers. The exchange will take place at the WSU Davis parking lot. Operating a gas lawnmower for one hour produces emissions equivalent to driving a vehicle 160 miles.

Even though Weber State University students, alumni and supporters "bleed" purple for the school's color, the university has been going green for years.

Alice Mulder, director of the Sustainability Practices and Research Center on campus, said the sustainability program makes financial sense even as it provides better stewardship of natural resources.

"There is a lot of benefit that comes from doing more sustainable practices which are ultimately good for reducing emissions and improving air quality," she said, adding that is also a good business model.

"This past year we had $1.9 million in water and energy savings."

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Since 2009, WSU has reduced consumption of electricity by 33 percent, natural gas consumption by 35 percent and total greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Over that same time period, those reductions added up to nearly $12 million in savings — despite WSU adding 603,183 square feet in new buildings or through renovations.

This summer, the university plans to install its first solar-covered parking array over the W10 lot on the northern side of the Ogden campus and will offset 80 percent of Lindquist Hall's energy consumption. The new solar array will build on the institution's solar capacity, such as the seven acre field at the Davis campus.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Larry Collinwood, arborist for Weber State University, and students plant an autumn brilliance serviceberry tree on the campus in Ogden on Thursday, April 18, 2019.