ICECF: Net Zero Energy Building Grant Program

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $2,000,000

Next deadline: May 19, 2020 (Letter of inquiry)

Later deadlines: Jul 21, 2020 (Pre proposal), Nov 27, 2020 (Letter of inquiry), Jan 30, 2021 (Pre proposal)

Applicant type: Government Entity College / University Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Illinois

Location of residency: Illinois

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About this funder:



NOTE: The application process consists of three stages:  Request for Ideas (RFI),  Pre-Proposal,  Full Proposal. RFIs are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. However, RFIs must be submitted no later than 9 weeks prior to the Pre-Proposal submission deadline in order to be considered for that application cycle. The deadline for submitting RFIs is indicated by the "letter of inquiry" deadline, above. 

ICECF Net Zero Energy Building Program

The Foundation’s Net Zero Energy Building Program will award grants to new construction or retrofit projects that achieve site net zero energy performance, or better, over the course of a year. Buildings must, at a minimum, offset all of their energy consumption with on-site generation from renewable resources. Grants will be paid incrementally, with full payment contingent on actual performance.

The program goal is to encourage exemplary buildings that bring together beautiful design and careful construction to maximize energy efficiency, showcase renewable energy and, by educating the public and professionals, help pave the way for a larger shift in the building sector. The Foundation aims to fund projects that demonstrate that net zero energy buildings are realistic and achievable. These flagship projects will add to the knowledge base on Net Zero building design and operation.


  • Attain and maintain site net zero energy building performance, or better .
  • Obtain at least one of these certifications: PHIUS+, PHIUS+ Source Net Zero, Full Living Building Challenge, Petal Living Building Challenge, Net Zero Living Building Challenge .
  • Make education about net zero energy buildings an integral part of the project
  • Monitor and make available on a public website “real time” load specific building performance .
  • Hold a "Grand Opening Celebration".


Grants are paid as follows:

  • Up to 30% of total grant amount once construction has started
  • Up to 30% once the building is occupied and building performance monitoring has started
  • Up to 40% after certification and 12 consecutive months of site net zero energy performance

Support is only available to projects selected to receive a grant. The Foundation will support those project costs and building components related to maximizing energy efficiency and self-generation, and will prioritize hard costs. NZEB grants will also help defray a portion of the costs associated with certification, measurement and verification, and educational displays and signage.

  • Pre-construction support may include energy modeling, daylighting studies, CFD analysis, electrical design to facilitate monitoring and reporting, PHIUS+ or Living Building Challenge certification fees, integrated project delivery assistance, etc.
  • Construction support includes building materials, mechanicals and on-site renewable energy systems
  • Post-construction support includes commissioning, energy monitoring and reporting equipment, certification costs
  • Each grant includes 2.5% (or $50,000, whichever is less) support for permanent educational signage and displays.

The Foundation anticipates extensive interaction with applicants to determine the incentive profile and amounts of individual awards. Applicants may be awarded a grant at a lower amount than requested.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Applicants:
    • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations
    • Local government agencies serving Illinois residents
    • Colleges and Universities
  • Criteria:
    • Building must be located in Illinois
    • May not have started construction
    • Provide reasonable public access to completed building
    • Showcase net zero energy building elements, including through permanent displays and highly visible signage 
    • Wholly owned by an eligible applicant; cannot include ownership by private investors or commercial interests
    • Must retire any environmental attributes (i.e. renewable energy credits, emission offsets, etc.) associated with the project
  • Eligible applicants may apply for up $2,000,000 or 80% of the incremental costs to achieve net zero energy.


  • Preference given to projects that incorporate natural areas and have a strong educational mission .