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, over 700 renewable energy projects, and more than 650 natural areas projects. The energy program grants have demonstrated that adopting energy efficiency measures and using renewable energy resources makes both environmental and financial sense. The Foundation’s natural areas grants have protected more than 33,000 acres of natural areas and wildlife habitat.
The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has been making grants for the past 21 years. Since making its first grant the Foundation has awarded more than 5,600 grants. Due to a variety of circumstances, 641 grants were canceled by the grantees before beginning the projects. Five thousand (5,000) of the remaining grants were completed successfully. The Foundation has distributed $269 million to grantees upon completion of their projects. As of December 31, 2021, the Foundation had an obligation of $25.3 million on its books pending completion of the 158 ongoing 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 eleven NZEBP grants between December 2016 and December 2021. Eight projects have completed construction, are occupied, and six projects are in the 12-month building performance monitoring phase to attain net zero operation. Two of the buildings have completed 12 consecutive months of net zero operation. 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 treatThe 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 is currently in operation and in the process of attaining twelve consecutive net zero operations.
Natural Areas Programs
Projects supported through our Natural Areas programs have protected more than 33,000 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 continued to be active in 2021 awarding fifty-two grants. Interest in all the initiatives offered was strong among active conservation organizations. The total value of the grants awarded is $12.8 million.
Twenty-one Land Acquisition grants will protect 2,000 acres. The recipients of these grants were local governments and nonprofit organizations.
The Foundation awarded four grants under the K-12 Pollinator Schools Program to schools and nonprofits. New habitat is installed at schools and public preserves accessible to students. The number of projects in this program was low in 2021 due to the impact of the COVID – 19 restrictions in the schools.
The Foundation awarded ten Public Amenities and Events grants to benefit project sites located throughout the state.
The Foundation awarded six Community Stewardship grants, to nonprofit organizations working to take care of government-owned natural areas, and to nonprofit organizations taking care of sites that are owned by the nonprofits. All grant projects sites are open to the public.
The Foundation looks forward to more opportunities to continue funding projects for its current initiatives in 2022.
- Peter Peters, Chairman
- Jerry Adelmann, Vice Chairman
- John McDermott, Secretary
- Sean Vinck, Treasurer
- Rachel Bold, Board Member
- Patricia Joan Murphy, Board Member