“Going green” is a buzzword trending among everyone from eco-conscious individuals to building contractors. Municipalities are getting into the mix by starting green building programs, retrofitting lighting with energy efficiency alternatives, replacing standard stop lights with Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) that can ease traffic delays and reduce emissions, and pursuing many other options as well. In 2007, 93 American cities with populations of 50,000 or more had green building programs. These measures can save energy, use fewer resources, reduce pollution, and contribute to healthier environments for their occupants and the community. Of course, all of these green steps require finances. There are a number of grants available to municipalities for assistance.
Community housing development organizations (CHDOs) and community development corporations (CDCs) within municipalities can apply for Green Communities Grants from Enterprise, a policy and advocacy organization. These bi-annual grants provide funding and technical assistance to communities for assistance in their green building projects. CHDOs and CDCs throughout the United States are eligible. The application round is closed at this time and should reopen in 2014. Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation in northwest Detroit, Mich. received a grant in the last funding cycle to begin an intensive community-wide energy efficiency engagement effort.
The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) have joined together to create a Local Sustainability Matching Fund. A municipality must join with a place-based foundation to submit applications for this 1:1 matching grant that aims to fund projects considered important to the community and that help implement a key aspect of an officially adopted sustainability, climate action, or energy efficiency and conservation plan. Grants range from $25,000-$75,000, and the fund usually supports15-20 projects per period. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued sometime in November.
This grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will help improve the air quality and relieve traffic congestion by supporting capital transportation investments and pedestrian/bicycle facilities and programs. Most of these funds are given to areas in nonattainment or maintenance for federal requirements for ozone, carbon monoxide, and/or particulate matter. However, some of the monies are given to states that don’t have nonattainment or maintenance areas for air quality projects. Funding for this program will likely be available in Fiscal Year 2014. CMAQ money is usually distributed through the state, so check with your state department of transportation to find out how to access the funds.
State and local governments are eligible to apply for the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This program’s goal is to assist governments that want to incorporate smart growth techniques into their future development. The grant comes in the form of technical assistance from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis or public participatory processes. Typically 3-5 communities are awarded this assistance per year. In 2010, the California Strategic Growth Council received technical assistance to create a framework that would help local governments determine which combination of GHG reduction strategies, smart growth practices, and sustainability policies were best for their type of community. It is expected a Request for Letters of Interest (RFLI) will be issued in January 2014.
In our home state of Illinois, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awards grants to improve and protect energy efficiency, renewable energy, and natural areas. Local governments serving Illinois residents are eligible to apply. Each program area has several specific categories including: Energy Efficiency (Lighting Upgrade Programs, Innovative Lighting Upgrades, Model Energy Efficient Systems, High Performance Green Buildings, Design and Commissioning, Existing Buildings Energy Efficiency Improvements, and Wastewater Treatment Energy Program); Renewable Energy (Solar Photovoltaic Installation, Solar Thermal Installation, K-12 Solar Schools, Wind Turbine Installation, K-12 Wind Schools, Biomass, Advancing Renewable Energy, Emerging Technologies); and Natural Areas (Land Acquisition, Capacity Building; Planning for Acquisition). All of the program areas have different deadlines; see the website for deadline updates. Eighteen grants were awarded last year to governments throughout the state.
Our team of Grant Helpers, including Municipality Specialist Rebecca Motley, can help you find a grant that will assist you in all of your green needs. And if going green isn’t in your municipality’s plan yet, we can help you find a grant that will meet your municipal’s goals. Check out our Grants for Municipalities page to see available grants.
Photo Credit: Metro Cincinnati