PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Massachusetts Cultural Council has awarded a Cultural Facilities Fund grant of $200,000 to Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) in support of buying and renovating BEAT's new Environmental Leadership & Education Center.
On November 8, 2021, BEAT was able to buy their property at 20 Chapel Street in Pittsfield — right on the banks of the southwest branch of the Housatonic River.
Next, BEAT will be restoring the riverbank by removing invasive species and replanting with native, wildlife-supporting plants. Funding from the Cultural Facilities Fund will allow them to begin renovations to make their building fully accessible by adding an accessible bathroom, a lift to get between floors, and an accessible balcony from which to observe wildlife and the river.
BEAT will also be conducting a deep energy retrofit as an energy efficiency demonstration project to show how an old building (originally built in 1868) can install solar and batteries to go fossil-fuel free. BEAT has been working with local architect Wendy Brown and construction consultant East Branch Studio who estimate the total cost of the building renovations to be $726,505 — so BEAT still has to raise money.
"It is so impressive to see how far BEAT has come since I first got involved with the organization," said Logan Malik, the Clean Energy Director at the Massachusetts Climate Action Network and a member of BEAT's Board of Directors.
Malik first started with BEAT as a Program Associate back in 2018. After graduate school, he returned as a full-time Advocacy Coordinator.
"This grant will bring us so much closer to realizing the organization's vision for an Environmental Leadership & Education Center in Pittsfield by enabling us to demonstrate how to renovate a building — first built in 1868 — into a fully accessible, net-zero energy, fossil-fuel-free environmental hub for the Berkshire community," he said.
BEAT will be holding an Open House Saturday, May 21, from 1 to 3 pm.
"We are excited to show everyone our property as it is now and explain our vision for the future. Everyone is invited, but please note that while we have a ramp into our building, we do not yet have an accessible bathroom," Jane Winn, Executive Director said.
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