Education projects

In 2010, the Berks County Conservancy (now Berks Nature) received a $2,250 grant to offer camp scholarships for families who needed financial assistance to send their children to camp.

Berks County Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) conservation organization that has been serving Berks County since 1974. The uniqueness of Eco-Adventure Day Camp allows children to enjoy themselves each day outdoors and to learn about something new and exciting about sustainability and a “green” way of living.

Introducing these concepts into children’s everyday lives is beneficial for them, and for the future of the community. The camp is located at the City of Reading’s Angelica Park and Alvernia University, and offers specialty programs for children as young as pre-school all the way through seniors in high school. The $2,250 grant provided scholarships to children that would otherwise not be able to attend the camp for financial reasons. Grants assisted with approximately 40% of the financing for the scholarships that were offered.

In 2009, the Berks County Conservancy (now Berks Nature) received a $15,000 grant to fund a State of the Environment (SOTE) in Berks Report. The Berks County Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) conservation organization that has been serving Berks County since 1974. The primary goal of this project was to raise awareness of conservation choices made in Berks County that could improve the environment. The publication included substantial data to motivate community members to make lifestyle choices that would improve the impact on the environment.

In 2001, the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) received a $3,935 grant to pay for the Metropolitan Edison Company Sustainable Energy Fund’s membership in the coalition. Clean Energy States Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of state clean energy funds and programs working together to develop and promote clean energy technologies and markets. Fourteen northeast and mid-west states have clean energy funds that meet and work together to make up CESA.

CESA provides a forum in which members can share information, work together and with federal agencies on joint projects, join forces to advance their mission in state and federal forums, and benefit from customized analysis and consulting to refine and improve their program offerings.

At a meeting in April 2002, a group of state clean energy funders, including Berks County Community Foundation, decided that it would be beneficial for the states to put together a formal coalition. The funding formula for membership in CESA was based on the current funding levels of each fund.

There are four funds in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania’s total membership cost is $37,273. That total cost was broken down by each fund, and the Met-Ed Sustainable Energy Fund’s requested funding level was $3,934.50.

Over the past decade, $2 billion of state clean energy fund support has driven the construction of over 50,000 renewable energy projects representing a total investment of $12 billion. States achieve this degree of leveraging by using a range of financial support tools, from rebates to competitive grants to loans.

The Erie City School District was awarded a $29,800 grant for the district energy initiative that was rolled out in the fall of 2011. Funding supported teacher training, curriculum development, materials for an inter-district competition, and sub-metering of selected buildings.

The district received an additional grant of $24,000 in 2016 to:

  • Develop a series of workshops and materials (including light meter/wattage kits) to present to the other 10 other Erie County school districts so they can implement the ESD energy efficiency program.
  • Develop Grade 6 Capstone Projects to be accomplished annually to challenge students to construct energy efficient structures that utilize renewable energy sources.

The Green Building Alliance’s Northwest Branch was granted $40,000 in March 2014, payable over two years, from the Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund. The grant funds the Northwest Branch’s operations for the next two years as it builds on the good works it has already completed. The grant to cover operating expenses for the Green Building Alliance’s Northwest Branch will also provide the organization with much needed time to build a sustainable operating support.

The Green Building Alliance is the regional chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and it was founded in 1993. The Green Building Alliance Northwest Branch is responsible for promoting the ease and effectiveness that comes with a healthy and high-performance building. The Northwest Branch strives to meet the everyday demands of the green building marketplace in its region.

In 2002, the Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania received a $5,000 grant to fund a program to increase demand for green building. In 2007, a $6,000 grant was given for on-going membership to this program.

The Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania (GBA), was formed in 1997 by design and construction professionals who recognized the need to educate themselves and their colleagues about sustainability. The Association primarily serves the York, Harrisburg, Reading and Lancaster areas. The mission of the Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania is to promote environmentally responsible design, planning, construction, and operation of the building environment through education, outreach and networking.

In the summer of 2001, the Board of Directors of the GBA developed a five-year Strategic Plan that called for taking the GBA to the next level of organizational development. This plan consisted of five main goals to achieve a sustainable Central Pennsylvania built environment, in which green practices have become mainstream. The specific strategies were directed in the areas of education, networking, membership development, relationship building and fiscal responsibility.

The grant provided to the Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania was essentially treated as an organizational sponsorship/membership by both the Metropolitan Edison Company Sustainable Energy Fund, and the other Sustainable Energy Funds who contributed. The revenue collected from these sponsorships/memberships was used for general operations of the organization that led them toward their five-year strategic plan.

In 2003, NativeEnergy received a $50,000 loan to fund their Green Tag marketing and sales program. NativeEnergy is a climate solutions innovator and recognized leader in the US carbon market, offering services that reduce carbon emissions to fight global warming. Every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy generated by the renewable energy projects that NativeEnergy supports eliminates the need for a fossil fuel power plant to produce that kWh of energy and its associated pollutants. Green Tags represent the environmental benefits that arise when a new renewable energy project displaces power that would otherwise be produced by fossil fuels.

In 2004, NativeEnergy began to promote the development of biomass renewable generators in Pennsylvania through renewable energy credits (green tags) program. The program would help fund Pennsylvania farms for the purchase of digesters, which convert manure or other organic matter into biogas through a process called anaerobic digestion, which creating electricity each day. NativeEnergy has funded six projects in Pennsylvania and has provided over $700,000 in support toward these projects. The projects also benefit the environment by reducing environmental pollutants. These projects have reduced greater than 200,000 tons of CO2 pollutants alone.

In 2009, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center received a $2,500 inconvertible grant to purchase watt meter kits for public libraries in Berks County. The Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks, is dedicated to helping people develop a sound environmental ethic.

Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center and its Sustainable Energy Committee wanted to provide public libraries in Berks County with watt meter kits to enable homeowners to measure power consumption of appliances and plan for energy conservation. The kits included a watt meter, instructions for its use, an extension cord, worksheets, and a book on home energy savings, maintained in plastic containers. The kits are loaned to the public by regular library procedures.

A total of twenty-four watt meter kits were distributed to public libraries, and one was purchased to distribute to a high school library. Within each kit an evaluation postcard was included for the borrower of the kit to send back to Nolde Forest to evaluate the success of the kits. Eleanor Sweeney, an instructor at Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center said based on the postcards returned the response to the kits was “overwhelmingly positive,” and the kits were used constructively. The kits promote and facilitate home electricity use reduction, and are used by community members.

In 2001, the Pennsylvania State University’s College of Engineering received a $109,562 grant for their Conservation Program for Schools project. Penn State’s School of Engineering proposed an idea to develop and deliver a program that used the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Teen Power program, as well as a customized teacher training program in the areas of conservation awareness and the use of renewable energies. Topics include: energy, lighting, peak energy use, water, HVAC, electrical leakage, office equipment, building envelope and environmental impact.

Every school within Berks County was contacted about including this program in their curriculum. Penn State’s Energy Conservation Program sparked a lot of interest in both students and their families. The children that were able to take part in this program gained knowledge in energy conservation. Many of the children were so fascinated with what they had learned that they shared information with their families. Parents showed a high interest in the program and the information their children were bringing home.

In 2004, the Pennsylvania Foundry Association received a $25,000 grant to develop workshops, select providers, and assess feasibility of load response participants. The Pennsylvania Foundry Association (PFA) is a statewide trade association representing approximately 95% of the 150 foundries operating there.

The grant provided to the Pennsylvania Foundry Association was to develop regional education workshops, in-plant consultations for Pennsylvania foundries on the value of PJM demand-response programs and to determine the advisability of aggregating the load response participants to maximize the economic, environmental and energy management benefits. As explained on PJM’s website, demand response (also known as load response) is end-use customers reducing their use of electricity in response to power grid needs, economic signals from a competitive wholesale market or special retail rates. PJM’s wholesale electricity markets provide opportunities for end-use customers to realize value for reducing their demand for electricity.

Demand response programs also positvely affect the environment. Once consumers start reducing the amount of electricity they use, power companies will stop producing as much electricity. This will help decrease the amount of pollutants being produced and released into the environment.

Reading Public Museum (500 Museum Road, Reading, PA 19611) was awarded a grant of $4,000 in 2015 to run a Discovery Camp for school-age children. This grant specifically covered a “Going Green” week.

St. Francis University’s Institute for Energy (117 Evergreen Drive, Loretto PA 15940) was awarded a grant of $17,000.00 in 2016 for energy assessments for rural businesses and farms. This provides rural agricultural producers and small businesses with education and individual assessments for improved energy use and recommendations regarding renewable technologies. Over two years, this grant will allow for 50 assessments.

In 2003, the U.S. Green Building Council received a $2,000 grant to cover the cost to co-host an event at the International Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The U.S. Green Building Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community of leaders working to make green buildings available to everyone within a generation. It is also the nation’s leading coalition of over 2,000 corporations, builders, universities, federal and local agencies and nonprofit organizations working together to promote buildings that are environmentaly responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

In 2003 the Council held its International Conference in Pittsburgh at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The five Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Funds viewed this convention as an opportunity to showcase the green development work being done in the Commonwealth. The Metropolitan Edison Company/Pennsylvania Electric Company Sustainable Energy Fund took the lead in coordinating this project for the funds. The funds co-hosted one of the U.S. Green Building Council evening events, had a booth in the exhibition hall and some members were presenters at the conference sessions. Each fund provided $2,000 to cover the costs for participation in the event.

The five Pennsylvania Sustainable Energy Funds successfully used the convention as a way to showcase the green development work being done in Pennsylvania.

In 2003 and 2006, the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund received a $5,000 grant to assist with the Clean Energy Expo at The Pennsylvania State University’s Bryce Jordan Center. The West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund funds the development and deployment of sustainable energy technologies in the 23-county Allegheny Power service region. They entered into an agreement with Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center to organize, market, and host an Expo dedicated to showcasing Pennsylvania’s clean energy technologies. The Expo was designed to meet the needs of society, directly targeting home owners, and providing them with the most recent up to date information regarding sustainable energy and its impacts. Attendance goals were not only met, but exceeded, with over 10,000 attendees in 2004 and over 15,000 attendees in 2006.

The impact of an Expo like this is great. Reaching such a high number of people throughout the nation regarding sustainable energy is substantial is the transformation to greener forms of energy and living. Due to the success of this event, there is a never ending stream of requests for the West Penn SEF to participate in other Expos, helping spread the knowledge of this SEF even further.

What We Do

The Met Ed / Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund promotes:

  • the development and use of renewable energy and clean energy technologies
  • energy conservation and efficiency
  • sustainable energy businesses
  • projects that improve the environment in the companies’ service territories



Berks County Community Foundation
Community Foundation for the Alleghenies