My Sustainable Project is Underfunded…Now What?

Seeking Grants for an Association, a Small Business or for Research
Seeking Grants for an Association, a Small Business or for Research

Securing funds for sustainable renovation projects can be quite an overwhelming task, especially if you don’t know where to look. Luckily, there are several different funding options you can check into, including:

  • Green Grants
  • Loans
  • C-PACE
  • Utility Rebates

Green Grants

Grants are a great funding option because they do not have to be paid back. Many federal, state, and philanthropic organizations offer green grants, which are grants geared specifically for sustainable renovation projects.

A great place to start looking for green grants is the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE). Here, you can search for the different green grants your state offers. If you are interested in seeing what federal grant funds are available, you can find a full list of federal green grants at The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has a list of organizations that provide green grants.

Another great green grant resource is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). They often set aside grant funds for green projects. The DOE also operates at both the state and local levels, so you might be able to find additional grant funding from your particular state or city as well.

Some Things To Keep In Mind When Applying for Green Grants

  1. Criteria for green grants will vary by the organization funding them. Before applying for one, be sure that your sustainable renovation project will qualify for the specific grant you are interested in.
  2. The process of applying for grants can be very time consuming. If you need money for your project right away, trying to get a grant might not be a fast enough option for you.
  3. Due to their popularity, green grant money often goes quickly. If you find a grant you are interested in applying for, contact the organization first to make sure the funds are still available.
  4. Consider hiring a grant writer. A professional grant writer can not only help you successfully apply for a grant, but since grant writers do this for a living, they typically are tapped into the green grant network. This means that they might know of other foundations and organizations you might not have heard of that have grant money available.


Several organizations offer loans specifically for green renovations, including:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac

Fannie Mae

If your sustainable project is a multi-family initiative project, then Fannie Mae might be a great loan financing option for you. They have a suite of Green Mortgage Loan products and offer preferential pricing and lower interest rates for people making green renovations.

Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac has two loan options for green renovations:

  • Green Up
  • Green Up Plus

Both of these loan programs promise to offer higher loans with better pricing for those in need of financing for sustainable projects.  


If you can show that your building is going to perform better after your updates than a code building, then C-PACE is a great financing option if it is available in your state.  

C-PACE, or Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy is a long-term financing program that is specifically designed to help organizations performing green updates. It has financed more than $500 million for sustainable upgrade projects.

C-PACE is geared towards:

  • Multifamily property owners
  • Commercial organizations
  • Nonprofits

How C-PACE Works

C-PACE is a financing program, not a grant. So like a loan, the money will have to eventually be repaid. The neat thing about C-PACE is that they offer repayment through an assessment on your property tax bills over the span of 20 years.

States That Offer C-PACE

Currently, C-PACE is offered in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Here is a list of those states that offer C-PACE:

  1. Alabama
  2. Alaska
  3. Arkansas
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Florida
  8. Georgia
  9. Illinois
  10. Kentucky
  11. Maine
  12. Massachusetts
  13. Maryland
  14. Michigan
  15. Minnesota
  16. Missouri
  17. Nebraska
  18. Nevada
  19. New Hampshire
  20. New Mexico
  21. New York
  22. New Jersey
  23. North Carolina
  24. Ohio
  25. Oklahoma
  26. Oregon
  27. Pennsylvania
  28. Rhode Island
  29. Vermont
  30. Texas
  31. Utah
  32. Vermont
  33. Virginia
  34. Wisconsin
  35. Wyoming

Utility Rebates

Utility rebates are a nice way to get some extra money for your renovation project, especially if you are making upgrades to include energy-efficient lighting, low-flow water fixtures, Energy Star appliances, and insulation thermal envelope improvements. Visit your state’s energy website or get in touch with your local utility providers

to see what utility rebates are currently available.

From Pre-design Funding Guidance to Build

Need help with your sustainable project? Encore Sustainable Architect’s team of experts offer a full spectrum of services for sustainable renovation projects, including:

  • LEED
  • Energy Star
  • Green Globes
  • Passive House
  • National Green Building Standards (NGBS)

We can also help with architectural pre-design financial guidance as well. Tell us about your project today.

Do you have a specific project question? 

The #AskEncoreSD Series explores questions related to historic preservation and sustainability in architecture and design. Answers are provided by registered architects and LEED APs from the architectural firm of Encore Sustainable Architects.  #AskEncoreSD your question now.

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