10 Grants, Loans, and Credits for Sustainable Businesses in Sonoma County
The era of destroying the environment in the name of profit is over. Consumers are demanding that businesses start adjusting their targets and becoming valuable drivers of ecological change.
Businesses around the globe are adapting accordingly—especially here in our own backyards.
Sonoma County has long been at the front of the pack when it comes to sustainability issues on account of the environmental ethos that has long pervaded Northern California.
And that’s why sustainable local businesses have an abundance of private and government-funded grants, loans, credits, and disbursements available to help them grow while still maintaining their eco-friendly operations.
In this article, we’ve rounded up ten options you can apply for as a sustainable business owner in Sonoma County as well as some of the key benefits of operating sustainably.
The Business Benefits of Sustainability
As much as sustainability pertains to our responsibility to the planet, it also has to make sense from a business perspective.
Beyond reducing your carbon footprint and saving money as a byproduct, sustainable business practices also offer a number of other benefits, such as:
- Improved recruitment: One study from the IBM Institute for Business Value suggests that 71% of employment seekers believe sustainable companies are more attractive employers. Nearly half would even accept a lower salary to work for a sustainable business.
- Attracting customers who care about sustainability: An increasing number of consumers are interested in supporting businesses that have green practices in place. Tapping into this market allows you to grow your bottom line.
- Enhancing your brand: A sustainable business is often seen as being more trustworthy and forward-thinking. This can help you to attract new customers and partners.
- Improved relations with the local community: If your company is known for its sustainability efforts, it will be easier to build positive relationships with local groups and organizations. This can be beneficial if you ever need their support for something.
Despite these benefits, operating sustainably can be a cost-heavy endeavor. And that’s where private and government support comes into play.
Grants, Loans, and Credits for Sustainable Businesses in Sonoma County
Every year, more and more programs are popping up to help business owners finance their sustainability efforts.
Here are ten that might work for your business.
Community Climate Grants
Though many of the programs listed here will be available across the country through federally-backed programs, some local California grants can serve as sustainable business support for Sonoma County businesses.
The San Francisco Environment Department is releasing $2 million in funds this year for organizations focused on:
- Zero waste
- Toxics reduction
- Community greening
- Building decarbonization
- Climate outreach and education
- Compost and mulch procurement
- Youth education
More than $700,000 of this is to help move toward zero waste goals which have already made the Bay Area a model for recycling and other sustainable practices.
Energy Efficiency Rebates
Sonoma County, in particular, offers a rebate for businesses that install energy-efficient equipment. These credits are based on the scale of the project, but the office offers completely free energy audits to provide insights into how you can best improve efficiency to qualify for incentives and rebates.
Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
The IRS isn’t always the spooky government organization that people make it out to be. They offer several tax breaks and credits that can save businesses money, and one of these is the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit.
Many different technologies are eligible for this credit and can help qualify for huge tax savings, depending on the scale and nature of the project.
The Conservation Fund
This organization focuses on the conservation of land and water resources and has provided more than $235 million in loans since 1993. The Conservation Fund has saved nearly 8.5 million acres of land and water and awarded more than $3.2 million in grants to community organizations.
More broadly, there are several incentives offered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which can help small and large businesses save money when investing in sustainable practices.
Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs), for instance, are generated when a business reduces its emissions below a predetermined baseline. These credits can be traded or sold, providing extra revenue for the company.
Environmental Education Grants
The EPA also offers environmental education grants to companies that are promoting awareness and stewardship. To be clear, these are geared more toward non-profit organizations that are working on environmental education campaigns.
But, if your company is planning to launch an eco-friendly initiative, it might be worth looking into whether you could qualify for one.
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are meant to help fund research and development for small businesses.
While the focus is not specifically on environmental sustainability, these programs can be a great way to get financial support for your company’s green efforts, especially if you’re pushing forward with a new technology or product.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has a grant program for community-based organizations that are focused on human health vulnerabilities. The $2 million program is all about finding local solutions to big problems.
Department of Labor
It’s not just infrastructure and product development that needs to be eco-friendly, but also the workplace itself. The Department of Labor has a program that offers worker training grants specifically for sustainable job creation.
This can help you retrain your staff in new environmentally friendly practices or develop green-collar jobs in your community. Their database is searchable by county and constantly has new opportunities opening up, so it is worth checking back often.
If none of those options fit your business needs, there’s also an index of all government grants that can be found on Grants.gov. This website allows you to search for federal, state, and local grants that might be a match for your organization.
The only downside is that the search function can be a bit finicky, so you might need to do some trial and error before finding the perfect grant for your business.
Going Green in SOMO Village
For those people who are committed to helping our world become more sustainable, the support of others is essential. SOMO Village is home to a number of sustainable businesses, like Resynegi, which turns non-recyled plastics into cleaner fuels for truck fleets, and Trevi Systems, which focuses on more efficient and earth-friendly ways to get the salt out of seawater.
If you want to operate your business in a community with sustainability at its core, then we invite you to take a tour of SOMO Cowork or get in touch with us today to learn more about the professional facilities available within the community.