Energy efficiency and other environmentally friendly initiatives are a no-brainer for forward-thinking small business owners. Sustainable businesses distinguish themselves from the competition while broadening their market appeal, saving money and fostering healthy communities. By prioritizing the triple bottom line of people, profits and planet, sustainable enterprises are “energy efficient” in the truest sense, streamlining processes and optimizing human and financial resources alongside the natural.
However, funding an energy efficiency project is more involved than lowering the lights (still important!), and may seem far less straightforward—particularly in an uncertain economy. The wisest course for many small businesses may be to seek outside funding, and government resources aimed to promote energy efficient technology and business practices may be the solution.
The following are just a sample of available resources; for more information, Grants.gov (search by category for “environmental” or “energy” grants) is an excellent site for businesses across all industries. Account registration at Grants.gov is the best way to expedite the application process, and applicants should allow at least two weeks for registration to finalize before submitting proposals.
- EERE Better Buildings Initiative: Administered by the USDE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), this grant program awards funding on a competitive basis to small businesses proposing energy efficient solutions that limit consumption by at least 20% in buildings of no more than 50,000 square feet.
- Buildings Technology Innovation Program (BTIP): Also administered by the EERE, the BTIP funds innovative technology that lowers energy costs and consumption to support commercialization within five years.
- Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Technical Assistance Partnerships (TAPS): Designed to support industrial energy efficiency, CHP TAPS are available to businesses able to provide technology, education and outreach to utility companies, manufacturers and government entities in order to achieve implementation of CHP systems throughout the nation.
- DSIRE Initiatives: The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) offers a comprehensive source of funding opportunities available through state and local governments. State programs cover energy efficient initiatives from research and development to program or technology innovation; some programs focus on specific technologies, like photovoltaic (PV) systems or geothermal energy, but most are broader in range.
- EPA Research Funding for Science and Technology Firms: The EPA’s Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) program awards seed funding annually on a competitive basis; businesses typically use the money disbursed to attract venture capital. Qualification criteria are minimal: for-profit enterprises employing fewer than 500 workers and owned and operated within the U.S., by U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, are automatically eligible, but solicitations are highly specialized. Many solicitations involve medical research and technology, narrowing their applicability in comparison to the broader aims of EERE funding opportunities.
Matthew Speer has provided this article on behalf of the Business Administration Information website, which helps people get prepared for a career in business.
Image credit: photologue_np, courtesy flickr