The Foundation’s mission is to support projects that improve energy efficiency, advance the development, and use of renewable energy resources and protect both natural areas and wildlife habitat in communities throughout Illinois. Since the Foundation’s beginning it has supported over 3,600 energy efficiency projects, close to 700 renewable energy projects and 600 natural areas projects. The energy program grants have demonstrated that adopting energy efficiency measures and using renewable energy resources make both environmental and financial sense. The Foundation’s natural areas grants have protected more than 31,000 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has been making grants for the past 20 years. Since making its first grant the Foundation has awarded more than 5,500 grants. Due to a variety of circumstances approximately 600 grants were cancelled by the grantees before beginning the projects. Approximately 4,900 of the remaining grants were completed successfully., The Foundation has distributed $250 million to grantees upon completion of their projects. As of December 31, 2019, the Foundation had an obligation of $15 million on its books pending completion of the 165 on-going projects.
The Foundation’s innovative Net Zero Energy Building Program (NZEBP) continues to attract strong interest. Net Zero Buildings take a holistic approach, combining high performance design principles, energy efficiency, renewable energy technology, and careful construction. Net Zero Buildings use on-site renewable energy resources to offset the energy consumed by the building on an annual basis. The NZEBP was created to show that Net Zero Buildings are feasible in Illinois and to inspire a shift in the building sector through these lasting demonstrations of exceptional energy efficient structures.
The Foundation has awarded nine NZEBP grants since December 2016. Seven projects have completed construction, are occupied, and are in the building performance monitoring phase. The most recently completed buildings are the Techny Fields Athletic Center (Northbrook Park District) and the Carroll Center (Park District of Oak Park). Additional Net Zero Energy applications are under consideration and the Foundation anticipates awarding more grants supporting projects of this nature in the coming year.
The Foundation also offers a program for wastewater treatment plants interested in pursuing Net Zero Energy. While these projects are very complex and lengthy to implement, there has been some interest among various operators of these facilities.
With Foundation support, the Downers Grove Sanitary District became the first net zero wastewater treatment plant in Illinois in 2019; the Village of Port Byron plant currently in operation and anticipated to reach net zero operations soon.
Natural Areas Programs
Projects supported through our Natural Areas programs have protected more than 31,000 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat that are now available for the public to enjoy. In addition to assisting grantees to protect natural areas through acquisition the Foundation has provided several conservation organizations assistance enabling them to strengthen their organizations, steward their preserves and develop additional resources to care for their land.
The Foundation’s Natural Areas program was very active in 2020 awarding ninety-six grants. Interest in all the initiatives offered was strong among active conservation organizations. The total value of the grants awarded is $6.2 million.
Fifteen Land Acquisition grants will protect 1,200 acres Five of these grants were awarded to local governments and fourteen were awarded to nonprofit organizations.
The Foundation awarded fourteen grants under the K-12 Pollinator Schools Program to schools and nonprofits. New habitat is installed at schools and public preserves accessible to students Over 12,000 K-12 students attend the schools that are participating in these grant projects.
The Foundation awarded nineteen Public Amenity and Events grants to benefit project sites located throughout the state.
Lastly, the Foundation awarded twenty-six Community Stewardship grants, sixteen of which were to nonprofit organization’s working to take care of government-owned natural areas, and ten of which were to nonprofit organizations taking care of sites that are owned by nonprofits. All grant projects sites are open to the public.
- Peter Peters, Chairman
- Jerry Adelmann, Vice Chairman
- John McDermott, Secretary
- Sean Vinck, Treasurer
- Rachel Bold, Board Member