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Equitable Emissions Investment Fund

The Environment Department is awarding up to $750,000 to eligible nonprofits to support building decarbonization work in Boston.

Attention: The Fund is now open. Apply by Wednesday, July 31, 2024, by 5 p.m.


BERDO is launching the first application cycle of the Equitable Emissions Investment Fund (the Fund). Nonprofits are welcome to propose projects that have a building emissions reduction/mitigation component. Applications with other co-benefits will be prioritized. The BERDO Review Board will evaluate project proposals and will award up to $750,000, with a preference to make multiple awards of about $250,000 each. Applications are due to Wednesday, July 31, by 5 p.m.

Background

The City of Boston's Environment Department is launching the Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance's (BERDO) Equitable Emissions Investment Fund. BERDO is the City's ordinance that aims to achieve carbon net-neutrality among Boston's largest buildings by setting decreasing emissions limits. By achieving carbon net-neutrality by 2050, BERDO aims to assist the City in reaching its emission reduction goals and improve air quality for residents. The Fund has been seeded with $3.5 million and will continue to be funded via fines and Alternative Compliance Payments from building owners complying with BERDO. Applications will be reviewed and decided on by the BERDO Review Board.

Purpose of the Fund

The Fund was created for the support, implementation, and administration of local building-carbon abatement projects that benefit Boston’s emissions reduction goals. Money from the Fund must prioritize Boston’s Environmental Justice Populations and populations disproportionately affected by air pollution. The Fund operates on an annual application cycle.

Funding Eligibility

This grant program is open to nonprofit organizations, or organizations with a fiscal sponsor, with a project proposal resulting in building-emissions reductions or mitigation in the within Boston. Projects can address any building type, not just those subject to BERDO. Priority will be given to organizations that serve Boston’s Environmental Justice Populations. 

Note: You do not need to be a registered vendor with the City of Boston prior to submitting a proposal. However, you will need to register as a vendor if awarded to receive grant funds. More information about how to create a vendor account and more can be found on this page. You may also join drop-in sessions to learn about Boston’s procurement processes using this link.

Proposed projects must have a building carbon mitigation component, but those that have additional co-benefits will be prioritized. Co-benefits of interest include: 
  • Benefits to affordable housing;
  • Benefits to tenants;
  • Benefits to labor and workforce development;
  • Benefits to outdoor air quality;
  • Benefits to indoor air quality and quality of life;
  • Climate resilience benefits;
  • Energy justice benefits; and
  • And other benefits the applicant would like to share.

Application Process and Timeline

Application

To submit an application, please use this Google Form to upload your project proposal by Wednesday, July 31, 2024, 5 p.m. (EST). The information about the project proposal requirements can be found here. If this method does not work for you for any reason, please reach out to Diana Vasquez, BERDO Review Board Manager, at BerdoReviewBoard@boston.gov

Timeline

This grant will open on Friday, May 31, 2024, at 9 a.m. (EST) and close on Wednesday, July 31 2024, at 5 p.m. (EST). The Review Board will review applications throughout July and August, and aim to notify applicants of their decisions by September. Timeline subject to change.

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FAQs

FAQs

Projects proposed by a nonprofit building owner to conduct upgrades to their buildings have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the City. In Massachusetts, cities and towns can only spend public dollars for public purposes; public funds cannot be used for private purposes. Thus, cities and towns have the right to spend money for any purpose where the public good will be served. In Massachusetts, the Anti-Aid Amendment limits how the City can distribute public funding. The Anti-Aid amendment prohibits the use of public money to financially support private entities. This means there are two questions that need to be evaluated in this situation:

1) Does the project serve the public good/interest?

2) If a nonprofit building owner wants to apply to upgrade their building, will the upgrade continue to have a public purpose over the long-term?

For example, a project proposal that would not be eligible would be a proposal to upgrade a nonprofit's administrative/office buildings. Although this proposal would help the City’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which serves the public interest of reducing emissions, the upgrading of a nonprofit’s admin building does not serve the public directly. Another consideration the City will take into account is whether the building has a requirement to provide a public purpose over the long-term. For example, does the building already hold a covenant securing its public service over the years? If not, will the owner agree to not sell the building for private gain in the near future?

If an applicant fits into this category, they will be asked to describe the public purpose of their project. A section has been added to the project proposal guidance, under Project Summary (page 10 of the announcement) that outlines what to include. The City may ask for additional information to be able to fully review the project against these requirements.

 

Yes, scoping phases are eligible to receive funding from this grant. The Equitable Emissions Investment Fund offers funding for projects that have a building emissions reduction component at any phase. This includes projects in the initial planning and scoping stage. 

 

You do not have to be located within the City of Boston to receive funding as long as the projects and/or work you perform with this funding are located within the City of Boston

Overhead and/or administrative costs are limited to no more than 10% of the total budget application.

 

Other allowable uses of grant funds include: 

  • Salaries and associated benefits of staff delivering the project, this may include Executive Directors if they spend a certain percentage of their time on the grant funded project
  • Where applicable, please annotate what percentage of the salary and associated benefits you are seeking support for (i.e., 0.5 FTE) 
  • Equipment, supplies and/or materials associated with the project
  • Temporary space fees and/or rental for the project
  • Transportation required for the project
  • Advertising and publicity expenses for the project
  • Local conference, seminar or training attendance related to the project
  • Project planning / evaluation
  • Technical assistance
  • Food and beverage for project participants
  • Other direct costs of the projec

Uses not allowed include: 

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Gift cards
  • Fundraising activities (this includes salaries or associated benefits for fundraising staff time)
  • Lobbying services
  • Rent and utilities for the non-profit
  • Salaries and associated benefits of staff not involved with directly delivering the project

Yes, please utilize this budget template for your application. 

 

The following standard conditions shall apply to the award of any money from the Fund:

  • If funding is provided for a project in buildings subject to BERDO, timely compliance with BERDO reporting requirements.
  • For long-term projects or projects that include distinct phases or deliverables, a schedule for allocating awarded funds.
  • Reporting by funding recipients to the Review Board regarding project progress and use of funding. The frequency of reporting may vary according to the project’s lifetime.
  • Reporting by funding recipients to the Review Board related to special conditions. The frequency of reporting may vary according to the project’s lifetime.
  • Completion of the funded project within the projected time frame.
  • The Review Board or its designee may inspect any funded project and related records, at reasonable times and with reasonable notice, in order to assess compliance with the terms and conditions of the funding provided.
  • If the funding recipient (i) fails to spend the funding and/or (ii) fails to comply with the terms and conditions of expenditure, the Review Board may consider limiting a recipient’s access to future funding applications.

On a case-by-case basis, approvals for funding may include special conditions relevant to the distribution of benefits to Environmental Justice Populations and advancement of the purpose of BERDO. Any proposal to add special conditions shall be discussed at a public meeting with the Review Board.

 

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