Celebrating 40 Years: The History of the Center for EcoTechnology

The Center for EcoTechnology has helped people and businesses save energy and reduce waste for 40 years! We love being a part of this community and helping so many people take Go Green actions. Our 40th year will culminate with the completion of our 2014-16 Go Green Goals:

  • helping 80,000 people take go green actionsgo green square
  • reducing our energy usage by an amount equal to taking 40,000 homes off the grid for a year
  • reducing our carbon footprint equal to taking about 100,000 cars off the road for a year
  • creating $100 million in lifetime energy and waste savings for residents and business owners.

After two years, we’re ahead of schedule!

Go Green impact to date 1.27.16

Center for EcoTechnology impact, 2014-2015

 

As part of our 40th anniversary we’re excited to bring you information that both celebrates the work we’ve done with the help of our partners as well as interesting trends and industry knowledge.

What better way to start celebrating our 40 years of making green make sense than with a look back at our involvement in the environmental landscape over the past four decades?

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000-present

1970s – Heightened awareness of the environment signified by first Earth Day, national environmental legislation (Clean Air and Clean Water acts, National Energy Act) and establishment of EPA; decade of oil crises and oil embargo.

  • 1976 – CET was founded in Pittsfield
  • Focus on energy conservation
    • First energy audits at homes
  • Leader in renewable energy
    • First passive solar greenhouse – at the Berkshire Botanical Garden
    • Project SUEDE:  solar demonstration program that trained unemployed people in solar and energy conservation theory and carpentry and installed 31 solar space heating systems at low income households
  • Energy education for adults and youth:
    • Conducted informational workshops on energy efficient design for new construction, solar hot water, wind energy, solar greenhouses, solar retrofitting your home
    • Developed Energy Detective curriculum for elementary schools

    1980s – High energy costs; increased interest in conservation; solar tax credits; decade of the garbage crisis, economic recession

    • Small business energy programs
      • provided energy assessments for businesses to identify opportunities to increase their energy efficiency
    • Energy Circuit Rider –
      • provided grant-writing services to municipalities to apply for funding to install energy conservation measures
    • Workforce Development –
      • BTEP – Berkshire Training and Employment Program – conducted weatherization training for unemployed youth
    • Energy financing programs for efficiency and renewable energy
      • Solar Bank – administered 0% loan program that also wrote down the principal and provide zero interest financing for residents to install solar hot water systems
      • Heat Loan program – administered financing program to help over 3000 residents install measures recommended in Mass Save; leveraged over $15 million in bank loans for solar and energy efficiency improvements
    • Expanded services to include waste management and recycling
    • Joined with Conservation Law Foundation and other energy and environmental groups to file suit against utility programs to deliver conservation and efficiency programs
    • Established oil coop to help stabilize costs for residents
    • Participated in network of Regional Program Operators to provide energy programs to communities of western Mass

    1990s – Utility energy efficiency programs grew; federal solar tax incentives disappeared; electric restructuring occurred; Material Recycling Facility (MRF) built in Springfield

    • Launched the Pittsfield Business Recycling Cooperative in 1997 to collect office paper from small businesses
    • Conducted Non-profit energy efficiency program – conducted energy assessments and helped non-profits apply for funding to install measures
    • Opened office in Northampton to better serve four western MA counties
      • Expanded environmental education programming including interactive teleconferences, first Berkshire Junior Solar Sprint and Earth Stewards after school program
    • Established the Materials Exchange web based materials swap site for businesses
    • Worked with towns to pass mandatory recycling bylaws so they could join the MRF
    • Conducted workshops on energy efficient lighting, do-it-yourself window insulation and backyard composting
    • Distributed compost bins made of recycled plastic collected in Massachusetts- catalyst for Statewide equipment program
    • Conducted informational sessions about climate change and renewable energy
    • Purchased office building on Elm Street in Pittsfield
    • Organized Household Hazardous Waste collection days
    • Set up composting of food waste from supermarkets and restaurants on farms
    • Offered Radon education and mitigation program
    • Produced Sustainable Development blueprint for Town of Adams and proposed Greylock Glen

    2000-present –  Public awareness about climate change amplified; MA Global Warming Solutions Act and Green Communities Act, MA became a national leader in investment in efficiency and renewable energy, Mass DEP expanded waste bans/recycling programs.

    • CET became a Massachusetts leader in building consumer awareness, acceptance and demand for energy efficiency and renewable energy
      • Convened the Berkshire Renewable Energy Collaborative
      • Provide informational workshops and public forums, recruit and promote participants for annual Green Building Open House. Coordinates and conducts wind energy tours
      • In partnership with Mass Energy enrolled 1500 households in New England GreenStart renewable electricity product
      • Helped towns earn over $500,000 in matching funds and grants to implement local clean energy projects
      • Established Climate Action Circuit Rider services
        • Holds “Greening Your Community” workshops for communities throughout western MA
        • Assists municipal and citizen energy and climate action committees establish goals and strategies and conduct outreach
        • Helps communities achieve Green Community designation
    • Expanded role in delivering residential and commercial energy efficiency
      • Conducted energy assessments in thousands of households for local gas and electric utility companies
      • Provided contractor arranging and air sealing and quality assurance to help homeowners implement energy saving measures
      • Conducted energy assessments for hundreds of businesses and municipalities through utility and state funded programs
    • Launched and Expanded Green Building services
      • Offers ENERGY STAR for Homes and U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes programs
      • Home Energy Raters who are all experts in building performance, site inspection and problem analysis, and instrumented performance testing
    • Became a founding member of EarthShare New England, a federation of environmental and conservation organizations
    • Expanded waste management and recycling services, including composting and toxic use reduction
      • Expanded paper recycling services to north Berkshire County; began to offer document destruction/shredding
      • Helped residents reduce the use of toxic materials in and around their homes and educated residents and businesses about the toxic effects of mercury on both human health and the environment
      • Helped more than 500 western Massachusetts businesses recycle over 100,000 feet of mercury-bearing fluorescent lamps through Boards of Health
      • Coordinated household hazardous waste collections
      • Helps schools and businesses set up organics collection and composting programs
    • Opened EcoBuilding Bargains (formerly the ReStore Home Improvement Center) in Springfield. Expanded to much larger facility that is a high performance green building
    • Expanded role in building science training and curriculum development
      • CET educated building inspectors and professionals about the state’s energy code and residential green building programs in order to increase energy efficiency in construction
      • Developed and taught Pathways out of Poverty job training classes
      • Produced MassGreen Curriculum for statewide community college use
  • Launched our 3 year Go Green Campaign to:
    • help 80,000 people take go green actions
    • reduce our energy usage by an amount equal to taking 40,000homes off the grid for a year
    • reduce our carbon footprint equal to taking about 100,000 cars off the road for a year
    • create $100 million in lifetime energy and waste savings for residents and business owners.

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