Funding and financing green projects

Organizations across the board from brick and mortar, fully remote to international companies may be interested in funding green projects. Your options include grants, loans, lending platforms, and even the Climate Pledge Fund.

In this Green Business Bureau article, we give a brief introduction to green funding and financing options that are available to you, to support your sustainability program. We explain what grants, loans, crowdfunding, and government subsidies are, before listing the top options for you to choose from. Our aim is to help you achieve your sustainability goals.

Funding your sustainability program using grants

A grant is a sum of money that’s given by an organization – or the government – to fund a particular goal. Grants do not need to be paid back.

The grant options listed below are as per the options listed by The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If you want to learn more about how to apply for these funds – with helpful tips along the way – visit the EPA’s website here.

  • Air Grants and Green Funding: Includes competitive grant funding announcements for projects and programs relating to air quality, transportation, climate change, indoor air, and other related topics.
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Competitively funds environmental technology research at small businesses.
  • Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) Grants and Funding: Includes competitive grant funding announcements for projects and programs relating to Brownfields, Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse, Solid Waste management, resource conservation and recovery, Underground Storage Tanks, and other related topics.
  • Environmental Justice: Provides financial assistance to support community-based organizations to collaborate and partner with other stakeholders (e.g., industry, government, academia, etc.) to develop and implement solutions that will significantly address environmental and/or public health issue(s) at the local level.
  • Great Lakes Funding: Includes competitive grant funding for planning, research, monitoring, outreach, and implementation projects in furtherance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
  • National Clean Diesel Campaign Grants and Funding: Building diesel engine emission reduction programs across the country to improve air quality and protect public health.

Green funding and financing for small business

For small businesses, The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE’s) combined Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program is among many U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SBIR/STTR programs that provide grants to small businesses or individuals – who can form a small business within the required application timeline. Grants are competitively awarded for the development and commercialization of new ideas and innovative research.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awards nearly $190 million annually to start-ups and small businesses through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, transforming scientific discovery into products and services with commercial and societal impact. The non-dilutive grants support research and development (R&D) across almost all areas of science and technology helping companies de-risk technology for commercial success.

National Geographic grants program: “We award grants to individuals working on bold, innovative, and transformative projects in science, conservation, storytelling, education, & technology that align with one or more of our focus areas.”

Funding your sustainability program using loans

If you can’t fund your sustainability goals using the grants listed above, then fear not as your options are not limited. You can apply for a loan.

Loans are borrowed sums of money – in this case, to fund a certain project – which is to be paid back with interest. Below we’ve listed three main loan sources for you to consider.

  • The Department of Energy: The Department of Energy Loan Program Office has more than $40 billion in loans and loan guarantees available to help deploy large-scale energy infrastructure projects in the United States. Over the past decade, LPO has closed more than $30 billion in deals across a variety of energy sectors.
  • Small Business Loans: These may be an option for financing. Fundera gives a breakdown of this funding.
  • Line of Credit: I4CE – Institute for Climate Economics has a guide for businesses to help educate themselves on the topic of line credit.

Funding your sustainability program using crowdfunding platforms

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a given project by raising money from a large group of people, who each contribute a relatively small amount.

Crowdfunding platforms support initiatives from helping a sick family member, donating to a non-profit or say helping with a local school project. This may be a platform to consider for start-ups, smaller organizations, non-profits, and/or brick and mortar with minimal budgets.

Crowdfunding will not only bring in important monetary funds but it can give your organization exposure to wider investor and consumer pools, in addition, it can support validation of program promotion, marketing, and product improvement.

There are a wide selection of crowdfunding sites to consider, and we’ve listed the main ones below:

  • GoGetFunding: This is a global crowdfunding platform for green businesses. Notice the section called Charity and Nonprofits as these might be most useful for you.
  • WorthWild: “Funding the environment” is the tagline of WorthWild, so you can see the relevance of this funding source here.
  • Fundly: Being one of the largest platforms for crowdfunding, Fundly has many different categories of projects. There is a section on their website called Non-Profit and Charity which may be of most relevance to you.
  • Equity Net: This platform has a section called Energy and Utility, which is a good place to start.
  • StartSomeGood: Both profit and non-profit businesses may want to utilize this platform.
  • FirstGiving: Much of the FirstGiving platform is focused on fundraising for non-profits.
  • Indiegogo: Indiegogo is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms online. While it covers every industry, it has a section called Environment. So, if your green business idea is something to do with environmental awareness and protection, you can go for this platform.
  • Mosaic: Mosaic is a crowdfunding platform for solar energy-related businesses.
  • Sunfunder: This is a platform that supports solar by raising solar fundraising.

Funding your sustainability program using government subsidies

A government subsidy will support a given project financially, by either keeping the cost of operations low or by contributing to a portion of the cost.

Business owners can receive incentives for purchasing hybrid vehicles, doing renovations that reduce costs for heating, cooling, and lighting, as well as by making improvements to old HVAC and water heating systems. Details on eligibility and qualifications can be found by searching for Tax Incentives Assistance Projects.

Organizations such as The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the U.S. Department of Energy offer financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to small businesses and farms. Such programs provide money for individuals looking to start a green business, existing green businesses, and businesses that are taking the necessary steps to go green.

Measure your sustainability program progress with the Green Business Bureau EcoAssessment

At the Green Business Bureau, we want to help you achieve your sustainability goals. We want to help you create a greener and better business.

By applying for grants and loans, or sourcing financial support from crowdfunding and government subsidies, you can gain the financial backing you need to achieve your sustainable initiatives, projects, and targets.

By using GBB’s EcoPlanner and EcoAssessment, you can select which sustainable initiatives you want to target, to document your aims. You can then track progress towards these targets, checking initiatives off when they have come to completion. This way, you can measure the effectiveness of your funded cause, to show investors what their support has achieved. You’re also granted a seal of approval by GBB, to showcase your commitment to sustainability.

Sign up for the Green Business Bureau today to create a greener and better business.

How do you fund your sustainability program? Do you have any questions regarding your green funding and financing options? We’d love to hear from you, please pop us a message below.

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