The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act promises to improve America as a whole. This includes providing millions of jobs to Americans and creating more sustainable energy sources that will continue to protect the planet that we live on through progressive clean energy and environment grants. Did you know that more than 800 million people are at risk of climate change impacts?
Many cities don’t have the climate and environmental infrastructure updates needed to protect vulnerable populations from extreme weather events, floods, and droughts. To help with that, the IIJA funding breakdown promises that these massive changes can change that.
If you and your local leaders are looking for more information on the available climate, energy, and environmental grants, you came to the right place. This brief guide will cover the nine major environmental grants available and who you can reach out to for help in creating your community’s plan.
What is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as IIJA, is a once-in-a-generation investment used to improve our country’s competitiveness and hard infrastructure. The deal will rebuild American roads, rails, and bridges and tackle the climate crisis.
These infrastructure changes are long overdue, but this massive spending bill will tackle significant projects over the course of the next five to ten years. This bill will help provide clean water, update roads, and create sustainable energy sources, but it will also create millions of jobs per year.
IIJA Funding for Reliable Renewable Energy
Per the Department of Energy, power outages cost the United States economy up to $70 billion each year. This is due to our weak infrastructure and lack of planning. As the climate continues to change, we need to create plans that will help communities and create a more sustainable future.
1. Grants for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements in Schools
Through the Department of Energy Program, this grant has $500 million allocated for education agencies and non-profit companies to make updates to their public schools. This includes creating clean vehicle upgrades and other efficient renewable energy improvements in these schools. Funding applications start in the Fall of 2022.
2. Brownfields Remediation Program
$1.2 billion in grants and assistance will go towards safely cleaning up contaminated properties. This remediation program intends to help reduce the risk of the transmittance of lead to the water and soil of nearby communities.
Consuming lead comes with several health complications, including kidney and brain damage. This program will also provide communities with job training programs.
Local leaders can apply through their regional Environmental Protection Agencies. You can apply for assessment grants, revolving loan fund grants, and cleanup grants if needed.
3. Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program
This program already exists through FEMA, and it will provide one billion dollars in funding to support communities in creating plans to mitigate massive losses from natural disasters. In 2021 alone, over 20 climate-related disasters destroyed many American communities.
In places like Texas or Louisiana, which constantly get battered by hurricanes or intense flooding, they will need to reduce the risks faced because of these natural disasters. Communities who wish to apply for this grant will apply as sub-applicants under your state. Applications for this program will open no later than 9/30/2022.
4. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants
Through the Department of Energy, this grant allocates $550 million to local governments, states, and tribes for projects that will help reduce energy use and cut pollution. The goal of this program is also to create ways to be more energy-efficient.
This can include the use of solar panels or other alternative energy sources that won’t completely deplete the earth of its natural resources. The application window for this program will open around the Fall of 2022.
5. The IIJA Environment Grants Include Flood Mitigation Assistance
This already existing program through FEMA allocations around 3.5 billion dollars to reduce or eliminate the risk of flood damage. FEMA will choose recipients based on the cost-effectiveness and impact of the project. Typically, around $150 million to $200 million is available in funding each year.
Still, to increase the amount of funding to ensure that all communities get the money they need, the IIJA bill approved additional funding. Similar to the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program, applications will open up at the end of September 2022.
6. Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program
This new program will provide one billion dollars in grants to communities at risk from wildfires. Sponsored by the Department of Agriculture, they will provide this funding to develop or revise community wildfire protection programs.
This grant is competitive, but it will also feature formula funding. Applications for this program won’t open until early 2023.
7. Energy Improvement in Remote or Rural Areas
This new program will allocate one billion dollars to entities in remote or rural areas. This means that towns with less than 10,000 inhabitants are the main focus of this investment.
This program aims to improve safety, reliability, resilience, and availability of energy. Rural towns could see an increased use of solar panels use and will also receive better internet connection through the ReConnect Program.
8. Environment Grants for Energy Efficiency and Resilience Code Adoption
This program sponsored by the Department of Energy allocates around 225 million dollars to state energy agencies. These agencies will partner with local building code entities, utilities, codes, and standards developers to enable cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes.
This, in turn, will provide millions of Americans with a reduction of cost on their energy bills. Applications for this program will open at the end of 2022.
9. Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs
This new eight billion dollar program will support the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs. The regional clean hydrogen hubs program will improve clean hydrogen production, storage, processing, and delivery. The program will open at the end of 2022.
IIJA Help With Preparing Your Environment Grant Application
Building up our country takes more than just approving large amounts of funding; it takes a community. Investing in federal infrastructure funding requires significant coordination between Tribal governments, cities, states, and other key parties.
The White House Implementation Coordinator over the IIJA grants sent letters to Governors recommending that they create a list of preparatory actions, including appointing particular coordinators to manage the flow of funds to their state. Cities also have the opportunity to collaborate and coordinate across their departments and with MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations).
Prioritize Your Community’s Capital Needs
One major step in preparing for this large flow of funds is prioritizing your community’s capital needs and creating a project pipeline. Leaders in your community will need to think about projects that were previously put aside because there was not enough funding or a lack of regional coordination. This once-in-a-generation opportunity will require leaders and community members to think boldly and develop plans that will benefit the community as a whole.
Strategies for IIJA Application
When creating your plans for climate, energy, and environmental grants, you may want to approach IIJA funding regarding who applies and who receives federal funding. A lot of these funds won’t necessarily go directly to local governments. Instead, they will flow through public utilities, state governments, MPOs, and other departments.
Understand the Funding Flow
Because there are new and already existing programs receiving large amounts of funding, it can take some time before the money gets established and administered. Even if a bill passed more than nine months ago, funding might not come for another few months.
The exact time for when the funds will flow is hard to pinpoint, but that doesn’t mean you should wait to create your plan. Because these programs are already set to happen in the near future, you and your community should develop strategies to apply and allocate received federal funds. It is expected that already established programs will distribute funds first before the newer proposed programs.
A coordinated networked approach to these programs will require staff members to accomplish tracking, applying, deploying, and communicating tasks. Because one of the main focuses of the bill is to impact and improve the lives of those in underserved communities, local leaders should consider employing black and brown firms to complete these projects.
This includes allowing them to build, design, and maintain the project’s lifecycle. Not only will this help leaders better understand the abilities of their community, but it also extends more job opportunities to minorities who usually won’t get first dibs on these types of projects.
Create Your Climate, Energy, and Environmental Plan
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is once-in-a-generation funding that will change the lives of millions of Americans. Not only will it bring millions of new jobs, but it will also improve the most vulnerable, underserved areas.
As human-caused climate changes continue to wreak havoc on the lives of many, we as local leaders need to protect those in our communities. If you are in the developmental phase of creating your plans for IIJA grants, contact us now for additional help. We have helped several Fortune 500 companies get the funding they need to improve their regions.