Small Business Equity Fund pilot

Pilot overview

In 2022, the Colorado Green Business Network launched the Small Business Equity Fund (SBEF) grant pilot program in Aurora, Colorado. The program provides funding to small businesses interested in implementing energy efficiency upgrades. This Equity Fund focuses on supporting businesses in disproportionately impacted communities.

The pilot’s goals are:

  • Supporting local small businesses with energy upgrades.
  • Promoting equity & resource efficiency.
  • Enhancing operational sustainability.

The program offers the following upgrades to eligible businesses:

  1. Free replacement and installation of LED lighting, programmable thermostats, occupancy sensors, and walk-in cooler motors.

  2. Reimbursement of 70% of the cost of commercial refrigeration equipment replacements. Costs include equipment purchase, delivery, installation, and proper disposal. We are looking for businesses interested in participating in the pilot.

We focus on the Aurora community right now, but hope to expand to other communities in the future.

How the program works

  1. To apply, please fill out our online application. Applications close on August 1, 2023.
  2. Once you submit the application, a Green Business Specialist will contact you to assess opportunities.
  3. All projects must include a site visit to confirm eligibility and approve upgrades.
  4. Businesses will receive up to $10,000 in funds.
  5. Applicants will be assessed on a first come, first serve basis. Funding will be distributed as long as funding is available.

Eligibility criteria

For businesses

  • The business is located in Aurora.
  • It has been in operation for two years or longer.
  • Owner resides in Colorado and manages daily operations.
  • The business pays its utility bills.
  • It employs 50 or fewer employees.
  • The business is registered and in “good standing” with CO Secretary of State.
  • It has an updated registration with the IRS (W-9 form).

For energy upgrade projects

Projects eligible for free replacement:
  • Interior/exterior lighting with LEDs.
  • Any lighting other than LEDs are eligible (e.g. fluorescents, incandescents, CFLs, metal halide, halogen).
  • Case/cooler lighting with LEDs (same as above).
  • Walk-in cooler motors with new and efficient electronically commutated motors.
  • Non-programmable thermostats with programmable or smart thermostats.
  • Light switches with occupancy sensors.
Projects eligible for 70% reimbursement (up to the project cap):
  • Replacement of old commercial refrigerators, freezers, and merchandisers.
  • The old equipment must be manufactured in 2008 or earlier.
  • 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 disposed of, and can no longer be operated by any entity.

Additional equipment replacements may be considered on a case by case basis.

Who we have helped

  Summary (PDF format)

The 2022 version of the Small Business Equity Fund pilot covered 100% of the cost of equipment purchase, delivery, and disposal. Out of seven participants, six businesses were eligible for equipment replacement. The pilot replaced 12 units with an average age of 20 years, and purchased 11 Energy Star units. All supported businesses were minority-owned.

By participating in this program, businesses will reduce some of their energy consumption and decrease harmful emissions.

light bulb with leaves instead of glass

Savings per business

The program estimates that businesses will save annually, on average:


8,935 kWh in energy use.


$983 in operating costs.


6.3 MTCO2e in emissions avoided.

Other program successes

  • We referred 3 businesses to Xcel Energy Small Business Energy Solutions program. These businesses qualified for free replacement of inefficient lighting with energy saving LEDs. These referrals contributed to reducing businesses’ cost and energy consumption further.
  • We removed 7.3 lbs of high-global warming potential refrigerants by properly recycling the old equipment. Equipment disposal was in compliance with Section 608 of the Clean Air Act that “prohibits the release of refrigerant [...] substitute such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) during the disposal of an appliance.”
  • We supported businesses in complying with food safety regulations. By replacing inefficient refrigeration equipment, businesses avoid penalties associated with not enough cooling.

Program savings

Total estimated savings from equipment replacement accounted for:


98,282 kWh in energy use.


$10,811 in operating costs.


69.7 MTCO2e in emissions avoided per year.


The Colorado Green Business Network Specialists are here to help! If you need support completing the application or have questions, please contact us:


We will provide assistance. We support Spanish speakers as well. Hablamos español también.

  Small Business Equity Fund flier

  Programa Piloto de Financiamiento Equitativo para Pequeñas Empresas

  Small Business Equity Fund application

  Solicitud para el Programa Piloto de Financiamiento Equitativo para Pequeñas Empresas

  Colorado Green Business Network