Climate Infrastructure Fund Resources
Below is a list of resources for potential grant applicants to the Climate Infrastructure Fund, which provides opportunities for the City of Chicago to invest in climate initiatives and support the city’s equitable transition to the green economy.
For answers to frequently asked questions, please review our FAQ page.
All other inquires should be directed to ClimateFund@cityofchicago.org
Climate Infrastructure Fund Information Sessions
Informational webinars were held on the following dates:
- Tuesday, January 10, 2023 | 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Video | Presentation | Q&A
- Thursday, February 2, 2023 | 12:00pm-1:00 p.m.
Video | Presentation | Q&A
City Climate Resources
Several City of Chicago plans and policy documents may provide guidance on climate-related infrastructure project proposals and related equity considerations.
The City’s Climate Action Plan establishes an interim goal to reduce Chicago's carbon footprint 62% by 2040 while assuring that Chicagoans from all 77 community areas experience the benefits beyond the environmental impacts, including economic inclusion and savings, reduced pollution burden, equitable access to critical infrastructure, and community health and resiliency. The 2022 Chicago Climate Action Plan outlines a comprehensive set of strategies across five pillars to achieve these environmental and equity goals.
A 2022 report by the Chicago Building Decarbonization Policy Working Group further characterizes specific strategies for buildings that may provide guidance as well. Finally, the climate and environmental justice initiatives outlined in the Chicago Recovery Plan may inform applicants. We Will Chicago, the City’s first comprehensive plan in over 60 years may also be a resource, in particular, the Environment, Climate and Energy Pillar Report.
A list of external climate resources is available at the bottom of this page.
These are some available resources to help with addressing the impact of your project:
Find community plans for Chicago's Invest South/West neighborhoods
Find the local Ward
For more information on the Environmental Justice and Economic Hardship screening tools used to review project impact, refer to the following links:
The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool developed by the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The Environmental Justice Communities as defined the State of Illinois, and in practice currently by the state-led by Illinois Solar for All program.
The Chicago Community Area Hardship Index as defined by the Great Cities Institute.
Enhancing Project Readiness
The first step to taking on a project is to have control of the project site and be able to show evidence of this site control or be engaged in the process to obtain site control. The City acknowledges that for those who do not already own the property, obtaining site control before applying can be a significant barrier, so formal control is not required at the time of application.
However, applicants should be able to provide documentation demonstrating they are working with the seller or landlord of the property in order to secure control. Although grants can be used to renovate real estate, a project property that has significant issues, such as mechanic liens, court orders related to building code violations or substantial past due property taxes, are unlikely to be selected for a grant.
These are some available resources to help with project readiness:
Ensure the property is zoned for your proposed use
Check for past due property taxes
Check for liens, pending cases, court orders and other issues
Look to see if there are any known building code violations or other unresolved issues.
Demonstrating Financial Feasibility
Applicants should be able to detail the total project cost, including hard costs (e.g. renewable energy installations, improvements to building energy efficiency, EV charging infrastructure, green infrastructure improvements), soft costs (e.g. architectural fees) and acquisition costs, when applicable. Once the total project cost has been calculated, applicants should also be able to demonstrate proof of funding for their share of project costs outside of the Climate Infrastructure Fund grant.
The City realizes that financing is often a challenge and realistically may not be finalized by the time of application. Successful applicants identify how much funding is needed and have considered how to fill funding gaps. Applicants who have not secured sources of funding for their share of project costs should be able to identify a strategy to secure the funding gap.
These are some available resources to help with financial feasibility:
Provides common project cost items for consideration
Provides common project funding sources for consideration
ChiBizHub is a portal for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners looking for resources to start, scale or accelerate their business in Chicago.
Neighborhood Business Development Centers (NBDC) program provides grants to Chicago-based chambers of commerce and business support organizations, otherwise known as NBDC delegate agencies, to assist in the development of small businesses in Chicago, serve as liaison between local businesses and the City of Chicago, and provide neighborhood business development services.
Construction and Installation Planning
Applicants with projects that involve physical improvements to a building or site should show construction / installation bids and/or detail how the estimated costs are substantiated. It's a good idea to speak with general contractors, engineers, architects, landscape architects or other professionals before applying to understand the requirements, process and cost estimates. Most, if not all, grant projects will need City of Chicago building permits, so it is important to understand the permitting, construction and inspection process.
These are some available resources to help with construction and installation planning:
City of Chicago, Department of Buildings
Find a licensed General Contractor
External Climate Resources
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator Calculate the potential of your project’s emissions reductions,
Inflation Reduction Act (General)
A Nonprofit Perspective on the Inflation Reduction Act - National Council of Nonprofits
The Inflation Reduction Act is a game charger for nonprofits seeking solar storage - Renewable Energy World
The Inflation Reduction Act and Nonprofit Organizations, by Maryland Nonprofits
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Solar United Neighbors (multiple sources) Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit organization based in Washington DC whose aim is to support homeowners, organizations and businesses that seek a clean and equitable energy system and its associated benefits.
Solar for nonprofits
Why should your organization go solar?
Illinois Solar for All - Illinois Power Agency Description of available program for nonprofit organizations
A Typical Day in the Life of a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) System - Elevate How solar photovoltaic systems work. Although this educational video snippet references residential homes, most of the information is applicable to other building types.
Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) - NC Clean Energy Technology Center Database to learn about state-level renewable energy, energy efficiency policies, incentives and regulatory considerations.
Why Energy Efficiency Is Important for Nonprofits - Environmental and Energy Institute
Three Steps Nonprofits Can Take to be More Energy Efficient - BoardAssist Basic information on getting an energy assessment, addressing the basics first, then going beyond. Includes links to helpful case studies.
Energy Efficiency 101 - Resources for the Future Introductory information on the important points of energy efficiency. The basics of improving energy efficiency, from how it can reduce energy use and mitigate climate change to the policies in place to encourage people to invest in energy-efficient products.
Low Carbon Technology Strategies Path to Zero: Getting Started - U.S. Department of Energy, Better Buildings Initiative One-page general primer/pathway on low carbon strategies, plus low carbon toolkits for specific building types and toolkits on types of energy measures such as lighting, renewables, etc.
ComEd Visit ComEd's page to schedule a free facility assessment; review available incentives and more.
Home Energy Efficiency Super Stars: Blower Door and Infrared Camera - Elevate Diagnostic tools used during an energy assessment and after, for verification of successful installation of energy conservation measures. Although this video snippet references residential homes, most of the information is applicable to other building types.
Home Energy Efficiency Super Stars: Air Sealing and Insulation - Elevate Air Sealing and Insulation explained. Although this video snippet references residential homes, most of the information is applicable to other building types.
What is Building Decarbonization? - Elevate Explaining the importance of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas. Spanish version also available.
Electric Vehicles and Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
Electric Vehicle Charging Explained - Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) EV Charging 101! Everything you need to know about charging a vehicle and the equipment needed to do it. Be sure to take note of other links on their page, such as the one below.
Electric vs. Gas Cars: Is it cheaper to drive an EV? - NRDC Quick look at cost comparisons between electric and gas-powered vehicles.
Alternative Fuels Data Center, U.S. Department of Energy Description of electric vehicle and fuel cell tax credits for commercial businesses (which includes nonprofit organizations and small businesses).
Inflation Reduction Act EV Incentives Explained - Plug In America The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) offers incentives for used electric vehicles for individuals but not commercial businesses. However, the Climate Infrastructure Fund will allow the purchase of used electric vehicles, following IRA guidance for used vehicles for individuals: 1) Vehicle must be at least two years old; 2) Purchase price under $25,000; 3) Sold by a dealer.
Electric Vehicle Charging Station Installer - Illinois Commerce Commission In Illinois, EV charging station installers must be certified. This site provides a list of certified installers.
Drive Electric Illinois General summary of Illinois’ plans to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in coordination with state and federal legislation that will support with incentives.
What is Green Infrastructure? - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Explanation of green infrastructure and links to descriptions of common green infrastructure solutions.
The Value of Green Infrastructure - Center for Neighborhood Technology Quantifiable benefits of green infrastructure, with overview of a range of strategies for consideration.
Green Values Calculator - Center for Neighborhood Technology This calculator is designed for both individual site plans and larger neighborhoods, aiming to help those planning for green infrastructure solutions and to explore the value of green infrastructure solutions. The tool allows planning for a variety of sites including community gardens, schools, commercial sites and others.
Green Infrastructure Design and Challenges - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Guidance on construction, operation and maintenance, plus common design challenges.
Types of Green Infrastructure - New York City Department of Environmental Protection Sampling of NYC’s most common green infrastructure installations, with a link to an archive of photo examples.
City of Philadelphia Water Department (multiple sources) The City of Philadelphia is home to one of the nation’s most comprehensive green infrastructure programs, including a mix of public and private property green infrastructure installations across the city and in targeted areas. While the Climate Infrastructure Fund will only approve projects on private property, applicants may still find that components of this guide are useful in informing the selection of green infrastructure best practices, and in consideration of multipronged approaches to ongoing maintenance.
City of Philadelphia Green Stormwater Infrastructure Maintenance Manual Compendium of stormwater management practices (SMPs) in the first section, followed by a detailed breakdown of maintenance considerations, including routine maintenance, reactive maintenance, procedures and specific maintenance practices for surface, vegetation, subsurfaces and pervious pavement.
Collection of Philadelphia-based private sector case studies
Green Stormwater Infrastructure website