Foundation Supports Design of over 100 "Green Buildings" in Illinois
First Decade of Grants Spurs Clean Energy Development and
Preservation of Natural Areas in Every Illinois County
(Chicago) Grants of over $30 million from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation have helped build over 100 green buildings, totaling $2.8 billion in construction, in communities around Illinois. The funding has supported design and new technologies for nonprofit and government facilities ranging from the Art Institute in Chicago to university dorms and affordable housing developments in downstate communities. Thirty-nine of the projects have achieved certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for cutting energy and water use, reducing carbon emissions, improving indoor air quality, and stewardship of natural resources.
The "green buildings" grants make up just under 20 percent of the Foundation's overall $160 million in grantmaking over the last ten years, as outlined in a new 10 Year Report published in October 2009 celebrating its first decade.
Launched with $225 million from Commonwealth Edison in 1999, the Foundation has focused its grantmaking on pushing nonprofit and government buildings to become energy efficient, seeding development of new "clean" energy sources such as wind and solar, and conserving natural areas.
A particular focus has been education: over 2,000 K-12 school buildings and nearly 400 college and university buildings have upgraded to energy efficient lighting using Foundation grants, a substantial effort that has achieved over $200 million in savings. Another program put solar panels on school roofs around the state and gave the schools money to track the results online and in the process educate students about renewable energy. The Foundation also supported the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign team whose 100% solar house took first place among U.S. entries, and second place overall, in the 2009 U.S. Solar Decathlon.
Foundation grants have also helped protect over 15,400 acres of natural areas around the state, including such treasures as the Mississippi Palisades near St. Louis, restored prairies at Nachusa Grasslands in northwest Illinois, and old growth forest at Funks Grove, near Bloomington.