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Acerca de The Nature Place

Berks Nature in Reading, Pennsylvania

Welcome to Reading's Nature Center!

Home to Berks Nature’s headquarters, Eco-Camp, and the Berks Nature Preschool, The Nature Place first opened its doors in 2017 after fundraising more than $4 million for the building’s construction.

Nestled within the nearly 100 acres of Angelica Creek Park, The Nature Place represents a unique and innovative arrangement in which a private, non-profit entity (Berks Nature) manages and operates out of a city-owned, public park.

Take a stroll along the dog-friendly walking trails. Tour the active restoration of the Angelica Creek floodplain, from cattail wetlands to blooming pollinator meadows. Embrace your inner child and let the kiddos run free in the Nature Play Zone.

The adventure continues inside The Nature Place: Reading’s nature center. Play your way through our interactive, learning exhibit, a series of games, crafts, and other activities with rotating themes. The Nature Place store has a variety of environmentally-themed gifts – from books, to toys, to local honey – perfect for any nature lover! Or, tour the green features of our LEED Gold certified nature center to learn more about sustainable building practices yourself!

Stop by and see what The Nature Place can offer you!

EL LUGAR DE LA NATURALEZA HORARIO PÚBLICO

FREE TO VISIT!
Open Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
CLOSED Sunday and Monday

LEED-ing by Example

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs (LEED) certification is used by the US Green Building Council for the verification of green buildings and provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer environmental, social and governance benefits. In fact, LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system.

Berks Nature is proud to call The Nature Place a LEED Gold-certified building.

Materials and Resources

Tablas de casa de setas recuperadas

Our exterior wood siding is cypress or hemlock planks once used to grow mushrooms in Chester County. Not only are these cypress and hemlock planks rot-resistant, but using reclaimed wood helps to preserve the forests and reduce landfill waste.

Piedra de granero recuperada

The stone on The Nature Place’s exterior is from dismantled barns in the Northeastern U.S. Using reclaimed stone reduces the amount of stone waste that ends up in landfills.

Madera recuperada en las escaleras

The Nature Place’s stairs utilize reclaimed wood from an industrial factory that had been operational at the turn of the century.

Alfombra

The carpet inside The Nature Place is made out of recycled materials. Instead of one large roll of carpeting, the floor of The Nature Place is covered with smaller, square carpet tiles. These carpet squares generated less waste at installation and are a breeze to replace if necessary.

Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves

In the United States alone, an estimated 365 million to 1 billion birds die each year from collisions with glass windows. As a conservative estimate, that’s 1 million bird deaths per day. Apart from domestic cats, there is no human-created threat in the United States that kills more birds than windows.

To ensure the safety of these birds who call Angelica Creek Park home, Berks Nature has installed bird-strike reduction glass windows at The Nature Place. This windows are acid-etched with a pattern of horizontal lines, spaced 2 inches apart, to discourage bird collisions.

Recycled Milk Carton Furniture

The chairs utilized inside The Rookery event space – for field trips, meetings, and other private events – are made from recycled milk cartons.

Estación de reciclaje para la correcta eliminación de todos los residuos generados en The Nature Place

Clearly labeled recycling stations are available on both floors of The Nature Place. These recycling stations help to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Energy and Atmosphere

Energía eólica

El 100% del consumo energético de The Nature Place se compensa con energía eólica.

Posición del edificio y luz solar

The strategic positioning of The Nature Place maximizes the amount of sunlight entering the building, which decreases the amount of energy needed for internal climate control. In fact, using natural sunlight can reduce the energy needed for electric lighting by 20-60%.

Light Sensors

Light sensors installed in the ceilings of The Nature Place can detect occupancy, noise, and the amount of sunlight filtering in through the building’s many windows. In response to these various stimuli, our interior lights will dim, shut down, or turn on which saves on power!

Efficient HVAC System

In general, the energy used to power The Nature Place is sourced from wind power. From there, The Nature Place uses a highly efficient HVAC system for heating and cooling the building. Specifically, Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) pre-conditions outdoor air – either heating up winter air or cooling down summer air – using a heat exchanger, which significantly reduces the conditioning effort required at each fan coil unit.

Sheep Wool Insulation in the Rookery Event Space

The Rookery event space is insulated with sheep wool sourced from New Zealand, which is entirely renewable and sustainably manufactured. Sheep’s wool insulation is a healthy, high-performing material that absorbs sounds and can actually improve indoor air quality by filtering out harmful chemicals.

Colocación del ascensor

La ubicación del ascensor permite que las escaleras sean más prominentes y abiertas para su uso. Las escaleras animan a la gente a caminar en lugar de coger el ascensor; una opción más saludable y que ahorra electricidad.

Indoor Environmental Quality

Pintura con cero COV

Indoor air is about 3-5 times more toxic than outdoor air. Indoor air impairments can come from combustion (smoking, cooking appliances, etc.,), application of chemical cleaners or paints, the building’s materials, or naturally occurring contaminants like radon, mold, or pet dander.

Using Zero VOC (volatile organic compound) paint helps reduce air pollution and keeps it healthy for our staff and visitors!

Parasoles

The exterior sunshades adorning the outside of The Nature Place’s windows help keep the building cool while still allowing ample natural light to filter into the building.

Sustainable Sites

Construido en la ubicación actual

Building on already developed land helps reduce further land consumption. The Nature Place was constructed adjacent to the already existing boat house of Angelica Creek Park, which now houses Berks Nature’s Nature Preschool. Later, The Rookery event space was built atop the very same boat house-turned-Nature Preschool.

Colmena de observación, plantas autóctonas y polinizadores

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators are responsible for every three bites of food we eat, and of those honey bees contribute the lion’s share of pollination services, supporting about $20 billion worth of crop production in the U.S. annually.

Inside The Nature Place, visitors can get an up-close and intimate view of honey bee hive life at our Observation Beehive. Our honey bees are spoilt for choice at Angelica Creek Park, which is lush with native wildflowers that bloom spring through fall.

The Nature Place’s wildflower meadows aren’t just good for bees, they support butterflies too! Our pollinator gardens are certified by Monarch Watch as an official Monarch Waystation for the nectar sources and shelter they provide to migrating monarch butterflies.

Streamside Tree Plantings

Riparian zones – the land adjacent to rivers and streams – are critically important to the health, stability, and resiliency of aquatic ecosystems. Streamside forests – also known as riparian buffers – help filter out sediment and pollution from stormwater, reduce streambank erosion, protect the water from excessive thermal pollution, and provide key wildlife habitat on land and in the water.

Aided by a multitude of community volunteers, Berks Nature has planted hundreds of trees along the banks of the Angelica Creek, part of the on-going restoration of Angelica Creek’s floodplain.

Jardines de la lluvia

The Nature Place’s small and large rain gardens help to capture and filter stormwater runoff pollution, recharge groundwater, conserve water, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat for native animals, especially insect pollinators and birds.

Pollinator Garden and Monarch Waystation

Native plants – from flowering perennials, grasses, and woody shrubs and trees – are a centerpiece in the meadows, wetlands, and woodlands of Angelica Creek Park.

Native plants are those plant species that naturally occur on the landscape in which they evolved; they share an intimate history with their region’s climate, flora, and fauna and are thus a foundational link in local ecosystems. Gardening with native plants restores these ancient food webs, which supports wildlife – from pollinating insects to migratory songbirds – and fortifies ecosystem resiliency. Furthermore, native plants require less maintenance and less water than exotic, ornamental plants!

Jardín de la Enseñanza

The Nature Place’s Teaching Garden provides a space for children to learn, with their own two hands, the lessons of the gardener as well as the importance of agriculture and local food security. The joy of their harvest is often shared not just with friends and family, but with the City of Reading at large: in 2022, Berks Nature made seven donations of garden-fresh produce grown on site at the Teaching Garden to New Journey Community Outreach, a non-profit organization serving low- and moderate-income families in Reading.

Composting Demonstration

Composting is a controlled, aerobic (oxygen-required) process that converts organic materials into a nutrient-rich, biologically-stable soil amendment or mulch through natural decomposition.

Not only is compost a potent fertilizer, but the process of composting is very environmentally friendly that:

  • Reduces methane emissions and other greenhouse gases
  • Minimizes the need for chemical fertilizers
  • Sequesters carbon
  • Enhances water retention in soils
  • Can remediate soils that have been contaminated.
Rain Barrels and Rain Chains

There are two rain barrels positioned on the Rookery rooftop deck. Rain water is collected from the roof of The Rookery and stored in these barrels. The collected rainwater is routinely used to water the deck planters and for educational programs on the rooftop deck.

Rain chains on The Rookery, serve as an alternative to traditional gutter downspouts. They help direct the flow of water into a rainwater collection system (in this case, box planters) and help slow down the flow of water.

Did you know? A quarter of an inch of rainfall can yield about 150 gallons of water from a 1000 square foot roof.

Stormwater Management System

Much of The Nature Place campus was strategically designed with stormwater in mind, given our placement within the City of Reading metropolitan area.

  1. Buried under the central grassy circle outside The Nature Place’s main entrance is a sophisticated Brentwood StormTank System, which properly holds and slowly drains rainwater from the Rookery’s covered rooftop deck and walkway back into the ground. Downspouts, conduits below the patio’s cement pavers, and drains all help to transport rainwater from the Rookery’s roof down to pipes leading into the Brentwood System.
  2. Rainwater from the roof of the Rookery is also collected and directed to Angelica Creek’s wetland nexus. Healthy wetlands function as nature’s natural filters, mitigating flooding and recharging groundwater. At The Nature Place, Angelica Creek’s wetlands are purposefully stewarded and cared for to assist with the campus’ stormwater management.
Humedales y paseo marítimo para explorar

Wetlands help erosion control, mitigate flood risks, recharge groundwater, naturally filter stormwater, and protect sensitive wildlife habitats and fisheries. Two wetlands now thrive in Angelica Creek’s floodplain, and a boardwalk trail provides visitors with an up-close opportunity to experience these versatile and lively ecosystems for themselves.

Outdoor Classroom and Breezeway

The Nature Place’s outdoor classroom areas provide a unique setting for outdoor learning with easy access to nature for hands-on experiences!

Water Efficiency

Sistema séptico de biofiltro

The Nature Place utilizes a bio filter septic system which uses a filtering media made of organic matter – similar to peat moss – to treat our wastewater. This is a very sensitive septic system, and therefore we only allow the use of natural cleaning products on site in order to keep our bio filter healthy and functional.

Estación de recarga de botellas de agua

About 60 million plastic water bottles end up in landfills every day in the U.S. At The Nature Place, several water bottle refill stations (including an outdoor pet fountain for our four-legged visitors!) encourage the use of reusable bottles instead of single-use plastic bottles.

Location and Transportation

Trail Connections

The trails of Angelica Creek Park not only take visitors for a stroll through the beauty of an actively restored floodplain, they also connect to the larger network of Greater Reading’s trail system and the multi-county Schuylkill River Trail beyond.

Preferred Parking

Berks Nature encourages preferred parking for low emission and fuel efficient vehicles, which have a lower impact on the environment compared to traditional fuel combustion vehicles.

Bike Service Station and Bike Rack

The bike rack located along the Angelica Trail at Angelica Creek Park encourages people to ride bikes, instead of driving cars, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The bike rack is accompanied by a bike service station providing bikers with a safe place to do any necessary repairs while using the trail.

Learn how The Nature Place is green on the inside and out!

The Rookery

The list of sustainable features below can be found in the Rookery event space and rooftop deck:

  • Parasoles
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves
  • Recycled Milk Carton Furniture
  • Stormwater Mitigation Systems
  • Rain Barrels and Rain Chains
  • Sheep Wool Insulation

The Forest Conference Room

The list of sustainable features below can be found in the Forest Conference Room:

  • Parasoles
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves
  • Alfombra
  • Light Sensors

The Nest Conference Room

The list of sustainable features below can be found in the Nest Conference Room:

  • Parasoles
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves
  • Alfombra
  • Light Sensors

Common Areas at The Nature Place

The list of sustainable features below can be found in the upstairs common area of The Nature Place:

  • Madera recuperada en las escaleras
  • Estación de reciclaje para la correcta eliminación de todos los residuos generados en The Nature Place
  • Colocación del ascensor
  • Parasoles
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves
  • Alfombra
  • Light Sensors

Berks Nature Staff Offices

The list of sustainable features below can be found in the staff offices housed at The Nature Place:

  • Parasoles
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Vidrio para reducir el impacto de las aves
  • Alfombra
  • Light Sensors

The Nature Place Campus

The list of sustainable features below apply to the entire campus of The Nature Place, including the outdoor spaces and the physical placement and infrastructure of the building.

  • Energía eólica
  • Construido en la ubicación actual
  • Posición del edificio y luz solar
  • Tablas de casa de setas recuperadas
  • Piedra de granero recuperada
  • Parasoles
  • Efficient HVAC System
  • Pintura con cero COV
  • Bio Filter Septic Station
  • Stormwater Mitigation Systems

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