Going Green

A Resource List for Local Government Officials in Illinois

Local governments have an important role in protecting and enhancing the environment. They are engaged in a variety of activities that affect air, water and land resources. They spend considerable funds on electricity, fuel and waste disposal. They are also large users of resources through the purchase of goods and services.

Despite these everyday challenges, local governments are in a unique position to be a role model for efficient and sustainable practices. Local officials have the ability to: respond to change quickly, exercise influence within the community, foster partnerships with local entities and participate in innovative programs.

There are several advantages to incorporating sustainable practices into local government operations. These include:

  • Improved quality of life
  • Economic savings through efficient use of energy, water and materials
  • Lower waste management costs
  • Increased energy security
  • Enhanced public image

Recognizing these benefits, many communities in the state are implementing a wide range of activities to address energy use, waste generation, air quality, water consumption and land development. In many instances, these communities are working to institutionalize “green thinking” into their day-to-day management, planning and operational decisions. They have adopted policy statements, formed green teams, set performance targets or developed action plans to advance sustainability strategically within their jurisdictions.

Illinois EPA has compiled a list of technical assistance, funding opportunities, tools and guidance to help local governments move forward with a broad sustainability initiative or carry out specific projects.

Making sustainability a priority in local government operations does not necessarily require exotic or costly technologies. Some of the most effective sustainability techniques are simple changes in operating practices or equipment. Others may require more detailed engineering or design changes, but experience has proven that environmental and energy improvements can have relatively short payback periods.


U.S. EPA, Climate Change Program, State and Local Governments U.S. EPA provides technical assistance, tools and guidance to local governments on how to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and develop effective greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

Sierra Club, Cool Cities Campaign Cool Cities are cities that have made a commitment to stop global warming by signing the U.S. Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement. The Cool Cities campaign encourages cities to implement smart energy solutions to save money and build a cleaner future.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Clean Air and Climate Protection Software One-stop emissions management tool that allows local governments to develop greenhouse gas emissions inventories, quantify the effect of emissions reduction measures, predict future emissions levels and set climate protection targets.


U.S. EPA, Energy Star for Local Government This web site provides resources for improving energy performance in municipal buildings. This includes tools for measuring and tracking building energy use, online trainings, financing information and case studies.

Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Energy Efficiency Program This program provides grants and rebates for local government to improve electric efficiency. This includes building and transportation projects, such as lighting, motors, HVAC equipment and traffic signals.

Illinois Smart Energy Design Assistance This is a partnership between the state and University of Illinois to support local government efforts to improve electric energy efficiency in both existing facilities and new design. The services include technical support; education and training; support for building codes; and database of incentive resources.

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation This foundation supports programs and projects that will improve energy efficiency and develop renewable energy resources. These programs include lighting and traffic signal upgrades; energy efficient building design and commissioning; as well as on-site solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and wind power generation systems.

Illinois EPA, Pollution Prevention and Energy Efficiency Intern Program This program recruits, trains and places college engineering students at businesses and local government facilities to work on energy efficiency and waste reduction projects during the summer. The students gain valuable experience in a work environment, while the host facilities can save money and improve efficiency.

American Wind Energy Association, Small Wind in Illinois This site provides information specific to public policies, incentive programs and organizational resources for installing and operating a small wind turbine in Illinois.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Solar and Wind Energy Rebate Program This program offers incentives for the public sector and others to utilize small-scale solar and wind energy systems in Illinois.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Biogas and Biomass to Energy Grant Program This is a grant program for projects that will use biogas or biomass as a source of fuel to produce electricity with combined heat and power through gasification, co-firing or anaerobic digestion technologies.

U.S. DOE, Green Power Network Find out which organizations offer green power in the state. This includes utility green pricing programs, retail green power products offered in electricity markets and renewable energy certificate products sold separate from electricity.


Illinois EPA, Green Fleets Program A voluntary program that recognizes the public sector and others for using environmentally friendly vehicles to improve air quality, while promoting the use of domestic fuels like natural gas, propane, E-85, biodiesel and electricity.

U.S. EPA, Green Vehicle Guide Use this guide when considering the purchase of new city vehicles. The guide is updated annually to allow you to evaluate both fuel economy and emissions for new vehicles that meet your needs.

Illinois EPA, Alternative Fuels Rebate Program IEPA offers rebates to anyone using E85 or biodiesel fuels (20% blend or higher), as well as acquiring vehicles that run on alternate fuels.

Illinois EPA, Clean Diesel Grant Program This program will assist local governments in reducing diesel emissions from fleet vehicles through diesel retrofit products, idle reduction technologies and other approaches.


Clean Air Counts A public/private partnership to voluntarily improve air quality in the Chicago metropolitan region.

Partners for Clean Air A coalition of businesses, transportation organizations, health advocacy groups and local governments committed to improving air quality and public health in metropolitan Chicago and northwestern Indiana.


U.S. EPA Region 5, Brownfields Program This federal program provides funding to help communities investigate and cleanup abandoned, idle, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities that may have environmental contamination (commonly known as “brownfields”). Includes information about site assessments, revolving loans and environmental job training.

Illinois EPA, Greener Cleanups IEPA has developed a series of tools to help communities take advantage of less-polluting, more efficient techniques in site remediation projects.


U.S. EPA, Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure This site highlights green infrastructure techniques and practices that reduce, capture and treat stormwater runoff at the source before it can reach the sewer system. These strategies include green roofs, downspout disconnections, rain harvesting/gardens, planter boxes and permeable pavement.

Illinois EPA, Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Grant Program Grants are available for reducing nonpoint source pollution, including stormwater runoff, through watershed-based plans, innovative best management practices, and education and outreach programs.

Center for Neighborhood Technology, Green Values National Stormwater Calculator This is a tool for comparing the performance, costs and benefits of utilizing green infrastructure practices to manage stormwater runoff.


Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Recycling Grants Program This program provides technical assistance and grants to governmental entities, private businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Funds are awarded for projects that will develop or expand recycling collection and processing efforts in Illinois.

Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Food Scrap Composting Revitalization & Advancement Program This program funds projects that will divert food scraps and other organic material (excluding yard waste ) from Illinois landfills for composting.

Illinois EPA, Medication Disposal This is a pilot program in which IEPA is working with several communities across the state, including county health departments and pharmacies, to provide expanded opportunities for collecting or dropping off unwanted and expired medications.


U.S. EPA, Green Communities Assistance Kit Developed by the U.S. EPA, this is a step-by-step guide for identifying and resolving community needs, and planning and implementing sustainable actions at the local level. Also identifies useful tools, case studies and other resources.

University of Wisconsin Extension, Toward a Sustainable Community: A Toolkit for Local Government This toolkit provides ideas and descriptions of planning activities that can help local government officials integrate sustainability throughout a community.

Smart Growth Network An informational clearinghouse to facilitate development and land use practices that better serve the economic, environmental and social needs of communities. This includes a weekly e-newsletter, showcasing best practices and tools developed across the country.

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability An international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations, this group provides technical consulting, training and information services to support sustainable development at the local level.

U.S. Conference of Mayors, Best Practices Guide Details over 90 city examples of sustainability initiatives and projects, providing summary and contact information for the staff person involved. Some cases provide an analysis of the benefits and costs and/or the funding sources of the projects.

Local Government Environmental Assistance Network The Local Government Environmental Assistance Network is a "first-stop shop," providing environmental management, planning, funding and regulatory information for local government officials.