Green Building Incentives Guide

green building incentives guideDo you want to build green or retrofit a space to be healthy and high performing?  No matter the scale of your project, there are an abundance of green building incentives and financial mechanisms to help you through the process, and GBA has compiled a list of them for your use.

On both a regional and national scale, these numerous financing sources (including loans, grants, and tax incentives) encourage the creation, development, and renovation of green buildings, as well as inspire a more sustainable outlook.  Program eligibility varies widely, with incentives offered to businesses, nonprofits, governments, and even individuals.  By taking advantage of these offerings, you can save money while creating healthier, higher performing places where we can all live, work, play, and learn.

Through each program link below, you’ll find specific information and guidelines such as current interest rates, application deadlines, important dates, and more.  Due to the ever-changing nature of financial programs, exact figures will likely be modified frequently, so please read all the information for each program carefully to verify its suitability to your needs.  This listing was assembled with input from various groups, websites, and companies.  If you find that it is missing any significant information or programs, please send us an email and let us know!  After all, it is only by having comprehensive data that this collection will be as educational and helpful as possible.  Happy savings!

 

Local and Regional Programs and Incentives:

Bridgeway Capital – Green Loans
Project Program Type: LEED Certification | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
A private financial organization, Bridgeway Capital’s Green Loans  assist local building owners and developers with the implementation of green building practices in order to create green buildings and achieve LEED certification.  Loans are flexible, long-term, and offer low rates.

City of Pittsburgh – Sustainable Development Bonuses
Project Program Type: LEED Certification | Financing Type: Development Incentives | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
Sustainable Development Bonuses in the City of Pittsburgh provide benefits for LEED-certified buildings and include floor areas and maximum building heights exceeding base standards by up to 20%.

Colcom Foundation
Project Program Type: Environmental Conservation | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
This Pittsburgh-based foundation provides grants for programs and capital projects that enhance environmental sustainability, natural resource protection, land and water conservation, and efforts to establish a sustainable population.  Colcom focuses its efforts on a national level as well.

East End Food Co-op Credit Union – Green Loans
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
This credit union offers green loans at least 2% below the personal loan rate for environmental purchases such as energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, weatherizing, and Port Authority Transit passes.

Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative – Small Construction Contractors Retrofit Program
Project Program Type: Emissions Reduction | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
This retrofit program will provide grants to small construction companies seeking financial assistance for emission reduction technologies.  Eligible companies have conducted the majority of their business operations over the past three years in Allegheny County and/or the City of Pittsburgh.

Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
The Penelec Sustainable Energy Fund of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies provides funding to companies that use renewable energy, conduct a business that enhances energy efficiency and conservation, or develop sustainable energy technologies.  Funds can be used for projects that are located in or provide services to First Energy’s Penelec territory, which include Bedford, Somerset, Cambria, and Indiana counties.

Richard King Mellon Foundation
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Educational, Nonprofit
The R.K. Mellon Foundation awards grants that contribute to improvements in five areas in Southwestern Pennsylvania: conservation; regional economic development; children, youth, and young adults; education; and human services and nonprofit capacity-building.  Funding is awarded for multiple sustainable efforts, ranging from program campaigns to capital projects.

The Heinz Endowments – Environment Program
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives, Environmental Conservation | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
The Heinz Endowments supports and awards grants in five different areas:  arts and culture; children, youth and families; community and economic development; education; and environment.  The environment program specifically provides funds to projects that initiate sustainable practices, as well as reduce damage currently being caused by unsustainable practices. The Endowments expect projects to achieve, if feasible, LEED Silver certification in their appropriate category.

The Upstairs Fund
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Residential
This Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership fund offers gap financing to developers or owners who convert upper floors of downtown buildings into residential use and seek LEED certification.  Financing is available for up to 50% of the total project cost, which cannot exceed $500,000, or $75,000 per unit.

TRF Capital Sustainable Development Fund
Project Program Type: LEED Certification, Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
TRF provides favorable financing for new LEED-certified residential construction, energy-efficient renovations of residential properties, renewable energy projects, and energy-efficient retrofits and equipment upgrades to businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region.  Specific funded programs include the Energy Works Loan Fund and Green Energy Loan Fund.

Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh – Green Design Initiatives and Incentives
Project Program Type: LEED Certification | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Nonprofit
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh provides loans to organizations in order to reduce harmful environmental impacts of their activities, while also reacting to the market demand for green products and services.  URA offers lower interest rates on several of its loan funds for projects that achieve LEED certification.  Reduction levels increase with achieved levels of certification, and range from 0.5% to 2.5% below program rates.

WarmWise Audits & Rebates
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Rebates | Eligible Sectors: Residential
Audits & Rebates is an energy efficiency program provided for Columbia Gas residential heating customers having annual gross income that falls within program guidelines. The program offers a free energy audit of your home, an energy-efficiency plan with estimated cost savings, and up to $1,800 in incentives for auditor-recommended home energy retrofits.

Watt Choices – Duquesne Light Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Rebates | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
This utility program provides rebates for the purchase of energy-saving equipment and devices to all residential and commercial customers within the electric company’s service area.

West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund (WPPSEF) provides funding for sustainable energy technologies in order to promote energy efficiency, as well as to benefit its service region.  WPPSEF’s funding consists of multiple investment tools, including commercial loans, equity investments, subordinated debt, and royalty financing.

 

Pennsylvania Programs and Incentives:

Alternative and Clean Energy Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants, Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
The Alternative and Clean Energy Program provides funding to suitable applicants for the construction and application of alternative energy utilities.  Loans of up to $5 million, or 50% of the total project cost, are offered.  Amortizations are structured to begin after 25 years and take place over a 10–year term, with current interest rates located through the program link.  Grants of up to $2 million are another option.

Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG)
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Nonprofit, Residential
AFIG promotes markets for alternative energy technologies in hopes of creating opportunities to better manage Pennsylvania’s fuel resources, while also achieving triple bottom line results.  An estimated $10 million in grants will be available to multiple eligible applicants, including organizations, nonprofit agencies, for-profit companies, and more. Check out AFIG link for current application dates!

Energy Harvest Grant Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Educational, Government, Nonprofit
Administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, this program provides funding of up to $500,000 for the utilization of sustainable energy technologies.  Eligible applicants are educational institutions, local government, and nonprofit organizations.

EnergyWorks Loan Fund
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
This fund works with both the commercial and residential sectors to provide financing for the implementation of sustainable initiatives.  EnergyWorks encourages a home energy assessment for residences, where it can be determined which improvements should be made, saving between 20%-40% on energy bills!  On a commercial level, EnergyWorks will provide up to $2.5 million in loans to help business owners invest in energy-efficient solutions.  Please refer to the fund’s website for further benefits and financial information.

Green Energy Loan Fund
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
Administered by The Reinvestment Fund, or TRF, this newly established program will provide loans for energy conservation and efficiency improvements to existing nonresidential buildings throughout Pennsylvania.  Small onsite clean energy systems (including solar photovoltaics, solar hot water, and combined heat and power) are also eligible for financing, provided they are part of an energy conservation and efficiency project.

Growing Greener
Project Program Type: Environmental Conservation | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Nonprofit
The Growing Greener Program, founded by the Department of Environmental Protection, works to maintain the many environmental aspects of Pennsylvania. With over $547 million in funding, the program supports watershed restoration and protection, abandoned mine reclamation, and abandoned oil and gas well plugging projects.  Applications are typically available between August and October.

High Performance Green School Planning Grant
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Educational
The High Performance Green School Planning Grant promotes the green building industry to the academic community by helping PreK-12 schools, area vocational technical schools, and career and technology centers construct and renovate their learning centers.  High performance green schools can greatly benefit student learning and achievement in many ways, including day lighting, reduced energy and water usage, and improved indoor air quality.  Provided grants are expected to average $20,000.

Keystone Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Residential
HELP offers financing to Pennsylvania homeowners for energy-efficient home improvements, including ENERGY STAR® -rated high efficiency heating, air conditioning, insulation, windows, and more.  As much as $35,000 is available in loans and, if eligible, consumers can end up saving thousands of dollars through implemented improvements.

Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund (MELF)
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
MELF provides low-interest financing for the acquisition or upgrading of new or used machinery and equipment.  Loans of up to $5 million or 50% of project costs are offered through this program, with current interest rates available on the fund’s webpage.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP)
Project Program Type: Environmental Conservation | Financing Type: Grants, Loans, Rebates | Eligible Sectors: Government, Nonprofit
Seeking to preserve Pennsylvania’s air, land, and water by preventing pollution and providing cleaner environments for its citizens, DEP works as a partner with governments, organizations, and individuals.  It offers many grant, loan, and rebate programs, which can be found on its website.  A nearby regional office can be reached by calling 888-723-3721.

Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA) Taxable Bond Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Bonds, Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
PEDFA issues tax-exempt and taxable bonds to businesses for land, buildings, equipment, working capital, refinancing, or closing costs for energy projects.  Loans are no less than $400,000 and can cover as much as 100% of project costs.

Pennsylvania Renewable Energy Program – Geothermal and Wind Projects
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants, Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Nonprofit
The Pennsylvania Renewable Energy Program provides eligible applicants with financing towards geothermal systems, as well as wind energy generation and distribution projects.  Qualified applicants include businesses (including nonprofits), economic development organizations, and municipalities and counties.  Loans of up to $5 million are available for both geothermal projects and wind energy projects, while funds are also available to manufacturers of renewable energy generation equipment.  The amount of the matching investment must be at least $1 for every $1 of program funds, and loans can be repaid for a term of up to 10 years for equipment and 15 years for real estate.  Grants of up to 50% of the planning project cost (up to $175,000) are also available.  Check out the program’s website for current interest rates.

Pollution Prevention Assistance Account (PPAA)
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
The PPAA program provides low-interest loans to small businesses undertaking projects that reduce waste, pollution, or energy use.  Loans of up to $100,000 can be used to fund 75% of the total eligible project cost, with up to a 10-year payback term.  For current interest rates, review PPAA’s website.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
Recently introduced to Pennsylvania, the PACE program provides financial incentives to eligible property owners to finance renewable onsite generation and efficiency improvement projects through low-interest loans, repaid through property tax bills.  This program has not yet been passed into law.

Small Business Advantage Grant Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
This program provides 50% matching grants (up to a maximum of $9,500) to small Pennsylvania businesses, allowing them to acquire pollution prevention and/or energy efficiency practices.  It is usually only offered once a year, with a June 30 application deadline.

Solar Energy Incentives Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Educational, Government, Nonprofit
A state initiative, this loan program provides funds for the following renewable technologies:  solar water heat, solar thermal process heat, and photovoltaics.  Eligible sectors are commercial, industrial, nonprofit, education, and local government.  Loans have a fixed interest rate of 5%, with a 10-year payback period for equipment and 15-year payback period for real estate.  Grants are also eligible through this program, with a maximum term of five years.

Sunshine Solar Rebate Program
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Rebates | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
Rebates for costs associated with solar appliances, such as solar water heat, solar thermal process heat, and photovoltaics are provided through this program.  They are offered to homeowners and small businesses, and can be as much as 35% of the installed cost—a great incentive for the use of solar energy.

Sustainable Energy Fund
Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and thought-leading capital projects including: Commercial Loans, Nonprofit ESA & Nonprofit PPA.

 

National Programs and Incentives:

Bridgemer Investment Properties
Project Program Type: Financing, Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Investors | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
Bridgemer Investment Properties recognizes the importance of sustainable building in today’s society and offers financing opportunities as well as programs to invest in green buildings.

Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM)
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Residential
A federal loan program, EEM allows homeowners to either finance energy-efficient improvements to their existing homes or increase their home-buying power through the purchase of a new energy-efficient home.  It is supported by other federal programs, including the Federal Housing Authority and Veteran Affairs.

Enterprise Green Communities
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
Committed to ensuring that, by the year 2020, all public housing with continuing affordability requirements has the opportunity to benefit from green practices, Enterprise Green Communities provides grants, financing, tax credit equity, and technical assistance to developers to create environmentally friendly affordable housing.

Environmental Protection Agency – Brownfields Grants
Project Program Type: Environmental Conservation | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Government, Nonprofit
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers assessment, cleanup, training, and revolving loan fund grants for brownfield sites.

Federal Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Tax Incentives | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
This corporate tax credit is for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems.  A 30% credit is available for solar or wind turbines, and a 10% credit for geothermal and combined heat and power systems.

Federal Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Tax Incentives | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
A corporate tax deduction is available to owners of new or existing commercial buildings that are constructed to save at least 50% of the HVAC, water heating, or interior lighting energy costs of a building.  Partial deductions of up to $.60 per square foot can be taken for specific systems.

Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit
Project Program Type: Affordable House Projects | Financing Type: Tax Incentives | Eligible Sectors: Residential
This tax credit provides funding of up to $1,500 for energy-efficient home improvements, including water heaters, furnaces and boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, building insulation, windows, doors, roofs, and biomass stoves.

Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
Project Program Type: Renewable Resources | Financing Type: Tax Incentives | Eligible Sectors: Residential
With the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, a personal tax credit of 30% of the cost can be obtained for the installation of renewable energy systems, including solar photovoltaics, solar hot water, wind, and geothermal systems.

Home Depot Foundation
Project Program Type: Affordable Housing Projects | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Residential
Home Depot Foundation administers millions of dollars annually through its Affordable Housing Built Responsibly Grant program to nonprofit organizations that will lead to the production, renovation, or financing of green affordable housing.

Kresge Foundation
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Grants | Eligible Sectors: Nonprofit
The ultimate goal of the Kresge Foundation is to promote human progress by providing direct support to nonprofit organizations in seven defined program areas:  arts and culture, community development, Detroit, education, environment, health, and human services.  In addition, the foundation makes loans to nonprofit organizations and offers award planning grants or “seed money” for business planning, market analysis, and other aspects of launching or spinning off a new nonprofit.

REEL Advantage Financing Program
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Loans | Eligible Sectors: Commercial, Residential
The REEL (Renewable Energy Equipment Leasing) Advantage Financing Programprovides financing options for sustainable equipment, processes, and technologies.  It incorporates multiple renewable energy technologies such as geothermal, solar, wind, hydro electricity, and biomass to offer more options to both residential and commercial customers.  With flexible loans and payment terms, REEL works with its clients to see that budgetary needs and goals are met.

Sustainable Jobs Fund (SJF)
Project Program Type: Sustainable Initiatives | Financing Type: Investors | Eligible Sectors: Commercial
A venture capital leader in the resource efficiency and sustainability fields, SJF not only invests in but launches and operates sustainable businesses, including solar, energy efficiency and technology, supply chain efficiency, sustainable agriculture, and more.

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants

 

Databases

Although key financial incentives are provided above, the number of such programs is always on the rise!  The three directories below summarize many other green building incentives and can be navigated with various search criteria.

DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
DSIRE is a nationwide database that categorizes incentives by state.  Through this resource, users can find numerous incentives for renewables and efficiency upgrades from all areas of the United States.

National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO)
A worldwide database, NAESCO allows users to search for green building incentives by project size, service area, service sector, and products serviced.

Real Estate and Equipment CDC/504
Local Certified Development Companies (CDCs) are administering up to $4 million in loans to eligible applicants.  These loans can be used for multiple purchases, including land or buildings, construction of new facilities, renovation of new buildings, or even improvements.  By going to the linked website, you can search for local CDCs within your area!

 

Need Additional Help?  Contact us!

 

Note: Last updated July 2013