In 2022, the Colorado Green Business Network (CGBN) launched the Small Business Equity Fund (SBEF) grant program. The program provides funding to small businesses in disproportionately impacted communities interested in implementing energy efficiency upgrades. The Small Business Equity Fund currently focuses on Aurora and Commerce City, but we hope to expand to other communities in the future.
The program's goals are:
- Supporting local small businesses with energy upgrades.
- Promoting equity & resource efficiency.
- Enhancing operational sustainability.
The Equity Fund offers the following upgrades up to a combined $10,000 per business, for all qualifying projects:
Free installation of LED indoor/outdoor lighting, LED cooler/case lighting, and other small energy upgrades as applicable. The program covers 100% of the cost of these installations, up to a combined $10,000 cap for all projects.
- Upfront coverage of up to 70% of the cost of commercial refrigeration equipment replacements, up to a combined $10,000 cap for all projects. Costs include equipment purchase, delivery, installation, and proper recycling of the old unit.
Important: All projects are capped at $10,000 per business and must include a site visit to confirm eligibility. Projects are determined and approved at the discretion of the Colorado Green Business Network.
How the program works
- Fill out the online SBEF application, linked here in English and Spanish. Applications close on August 1st, 2024. Applicants will be assessed on a first come, first serve basis. Funding will be distributed as long as funding is available.
- Once we receive your business application, a Green Business Specialist will contact you to schedule a technical site visit to confirm eligibility, assess efficiency, and approve upgrades.
- Businesses will receive up to a combined $10,000 in funds for direct installation and equipment replacement upgrades.
- Businesses must agree with the terms of the program and sign the SBEF Participant Agreement to get final approval for the upgrades.
- Businesses must sign up in Green Biz Tracker and become a Colorado Green Business Network support level member to be eligible to apply for additional energy saving devices, such as occupancy sensors, thermostats, advanced power strips, and more. If you need support registering, contact us!
- Businesses must send us pictures of their working equipment once installed.
- The business is located in Aurora or Commerce City.
- The business has been in operation for 2 years or longer.
- The owner resides in Colorado and manages daily operations.
- The business pays its utility bills.
- The business employs 50 or fewer employees.
- The business is registered and in “good standing” with the CO Secretary of State.
- The business has an updated registration with the IRS (W-9 form, sample here).
For energy upgrade projects
Important: SBEF will cover efficiency upgrades up to the combined $10,000 project cap per business. The funding cap includes both, free installation of efficiency devices (e.g. cooler LED lighting) AND refrigeration equipment replacements.
Projects eligible for free replacement:
- Interior/exterior lighting with LEDs. Most non-LED lights qualify (fluorescent, incandescent, CFL, metal halide, etc). Old LEDs do not qualify for replacement.
- Case/cooler lighting with LEDs (same as above).
- Other small energy upgrades as applicable, such as occupancy sensors and smart thermostats, may be considered and approved pending on the program’s ability to work with a contractor.
Please note that for most indoor lighting upgrades, the Small Business Equity Fund refers businesses to Xcel’s Small Business Energy Solutions program.
Projects eligible for upfront coverage of up to 70%:
- Replacement of old refrigerators, freezers, and merchandisers.
- The old equipment must be manufactured in 2008 or earlier, or have an estimated energy savings of 35% or more associated with replacement.
- The new equipment must be Energy Star certified.
- The new equipment must be of similar capacity as the old equipment.
- The old equipment must be properly recycled, and cannot be maintained or utilized in any way.
Please note that additional equipment replacements may be considered on a case by case basis, and require approval.
Who we have helped
To-date, the Equity Fund has supported 14 small businesses with energy efficiency upgrades. The program funded the replacement of 16 old refrigeration units with 14 Energy Star units. Equipment replacements contributed to 51,047 kWh (kilowatt hour) in energy savings, $5,615 in estimated operating cost savings, and 36.2 MTCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) in emissions avoided.
The program has also covered 100% of the cost of upgrading to 27 occupancy sensors, 23 outdoor LED lights, and 2 programmable thermostats. These efficiency projects amounted to 48,716 kWh and $11,943 in estimated savings.
In addition, SBEF referred 12 qualifying businesses to Xcel’s Energy Small Business Energy Solutions program for free indoor LED lighting upgrades. These referrals have accounted for 43,405 kWh in energy savings and $5,171 in estimated operating cost savings from retrofitting 595 indoor lights.
By participating in this program, businesses will:
- Lower their utility costs.
- Reduce energy use.
- Decrease harmful emissions.
Other program successes
The program has removed an estimated 10.6 lbs of high-global warming potential refrigerants by properly recycling the old refrigeration equipment. Equipment disposal was in compliance with Section 608 of the Clean Air Act that “prohibits the release of refrigerant [...] substitute such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) during the disposal of an appliance.”
Equipment replacements contributed to:
51,047 kWh in estimated energy savings and
$5,615 in estimated operating cost savings.
Direct installations contributed to:
48,716 kWh in estimated energy savings and
$11,943 in estimated savings.
Xcel referral contributed to:
43,405 kWh in estimated energy savings and
$5,171 in estimated operating cost savings.
The Colorado Green Business Network Specialists are here to help! We will provide assistance in English and Spanish as well (hablamos español también). If you need support completing the application or have questions, please contact us:
firstname.lastname@example.org - 720-968-0366