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National Audubon Society

Audubon's Mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. Nearly 500 local Chapters nationwide engage members in grassroots conservation action; while their environmental policy, education and science experts guide lawmakers, agencies, and grassroots in shaping conservation plans, actions and the policies to support them. More than 2,500 Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identify, prioritize and protect vital bird habitat from coast to coast.

 

 

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Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Boston, Massachusetts

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts is one of the first examples of a city-land trust partnership designed to address a range of community challenges including housing affordability, and racial and economic inequality. In the 1980s, DSNI created the community land trust, Dudley Neighbors, Inc. (DNI) to combat blight in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood, which as a result of disinvestment had numerous vacant properties and became a frequent site for dumping and arson. The goal of the land trust was to facilitate redevelopment of the neighborhood without displacing existing residents and to empower community control over future development. DNI acquired 60 acres of land and currently stewards 225 units of affordable housing, an urban farm, a greenhouse, a charter school, parks, and a town common.  The DSNI is also notable because of the unique partnership with the City of Boston. The City granted the land trust eminent domain authority to condemn lands in the Dudley Triangle neighborhood and provided the land trust significant financial resources to support the development of affordable housing and other community projects in the neighborhood. DSNI’s work has helped to enhance the resilience of the community by preventing displacement in the face of rapid gentrification in the city, enhancing food security for residents, creating and stewarding green space that help to reduce urban heat islands, and by increasing social cohesion in the neighborhood through community activities and a community-led governing Board. DSNI shows how innovative public-partnerships between land trusts and cities can be fostered to address climate resilience and other community stressors, such as the lack of affordable housing, blight, and disinvestment.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Chicago, Illinois Central Loop Tax Increment Financing

2020

Chicago, Illinois has established more than 120 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, and has leveraged its public investment to attract $6 billion in private capital investments in these districts. Revenue from Chicago’s Central Loop TIF has been used to fund the city’s Green Roof Improvement Fund, which incentivizes and provides partial reimbursement to commercial buildings that install green roofs to manage stormwater. Chicago’s TIFs currently fund a small array of adaptive and climate-related projects, such as green alleys and wastewater infrastructure, but all TIF-funded projects must meet sustainability standards. In February 2020, Chicago’s Mayor announced a series of reforms to promote transparency in the TIF system, including the creation of a supervisory TIF Investment Committee whose explicit goal is to center equity in its decision making.

Related Organizations: City of Chicago, Illinois

Resource Category: Funding

 

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The Kresge Foundation Equitable Guidelines for Opportunity Zone Investment

March 2019

The Opportunity Zones (OZ) program, created by the federal Opportunity Act as a part of the 2017 Tax Act, delegates to the U.S. Treasury the authority to set requirements for investment under the act’s tax credit system. The Kresge Foundation, seeing that Treasury requirements were first delayed and ultimately bare, set out to create its own set of guidelines. Kresge provides capitalization to projects in OZs to attract investment, and through covenants with its partners attempts to ensure that such investments are based in a framework of equity.  Within a specific OZ, these covenants include stringent reporting requirements, the creation of a community advisory board explicitly containing members of the OZ’s community, and active promotion of OZ programs to OZ residents. Additionally, Kresge set out minimum standards for both real estate and business investments. Covenants for real estate investments include specifics such as: adopting an “anti-displacement” strategy for all housing investments, shifting focus to projects that create jobs for low-income communities, and mandating that at least 50% of all multifamily housing investments serve residents with incomes under 120% of the OZ’s average median income. For business investments, covenants include requirements that at least 50% of investments create living-wage jobs, and prohibitions on investments in industries that could be harmful to disadvantaged communities and typically create environmental justice issues. (e.g. oil, mining, firearms). 

Related Organizations: The Kresge Foundation

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Financing resilient communities and coastlines: How environmental impact bonds can accelerate wetland restoration in Louisiana and beyond

August 20, 2018

The Environmental Defense Fund and Quantified Ventures have assessed how an environmental impact bond (EIB) could effectively be used for coastal resilience financing for wetland restoration in Louisiana and other coastal areas. The report outlines the steps Louisiana would take to pilot and implement the EIB to restore the coast and wetlands, while greatly reducing land loss to sea level rise, and incentivizing investment. The framework could also support financing other natural infrastructure projects that build coastal resiliency, and serves as a template for coastal investments anywhere.

Related Organizations: Environmental Defense Fund

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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My Strong Home - Home Risk Mitigation Loans

2017

MyStrongHome is a public-benefit corporation which aims to help homes and communities in coastal areas in South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to be better protected from extreme weather by financing and managing home upgrades, especially new storm-ready roofs, to meet resilient building standards. By providing an “end-to-end” solution, from assessment and financing through construction and insurance, MyStrongHome makes home risk mitigation, and climate change resilience, more accessible to homeowners.

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Connecticut Green Bank Solar For All Program

2015

In 2015, Connecticut recognized that its standard solar incentive program for homeowners, the Residential Solar Incentive Program (RSIP), had successfully promoted residential solar development, but was serving very few low-income homeowners. To increase low and middle income (LMI) homeowner access to credit for solar, the Connecticut Green Bank (which was established by the Connecticut General Assembly), developed a model for providing these homeowners with cost-effective residential solar power and energy efficiency, and applied it to a partnership with solar provider PosiGen Solar (PosiGen). The Green Bank's Solar For All program provides financial support to PosiGen, which uses this financing to build solar panels on LMI homes. PosiGen retains ownership of the panels, benefits from the solar rebates provided under the RSIP, and leases the solar panels to homeowners. Homeowners benefit financially by avoiding large upfront payments for their solar systems, and by reducing electricity costs. Additionally, all PosiGen customers receive efficiency upgrades. The average PosiGen customer in Connecticut receives a net annual financial benefit of $450. For the first six years of solar panel operation, PosiGen owns and benefits from the Renewable Energy Credits – the excess power created by the panels. Ownership of these credits is then transferred to the Bank, which makes back some of the money it spends on the RSIP. 

Resource Category: Funding

 

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New Jersey Clean Energy Program Efficiency Retrofitting

2010

New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) is a financial incentive system created by the state legislature to encourage energy efficiency retrofitting and promote the use of renewable energy. CMC Energy is a private firm specializing in improving energy efficiency, and became a contracting partner of NJCEP’s Direct Install program. Through this program, CMC works directly with a participating business or public entity to assess areas for improved energy efficiency, and implement modern technical solutions to reduce energy costs. NJCEP pays for 70% of the total retrofitting costs directly to the entity, reducing the total project time to an average of 90 days from the initial appointment. High Bridge Elementary School, in High Bridge, NJ, participated in the Direct Install program and is realizing an annual energy savings of approximately $22,000. The total cost of the installation was $135,109, of which $94,576 was provided directly to the school. The school thus contributed only $40,532, estimated to be paid off in 1.8 years given the school’s energy savings. Future energy savings will be used for further improvements, such as a new roof. In 2019, to promote equity, NJCEP increased its funding to 80% of the retrofitting costs for facilities: within an Urban Enterprise Zone, within an Opportunity Zone, owned by local governments, containing K-12 public schools, or designated as affordable housing. Under the newer scheme, the High Bridge Elementary pay period would be shortened to 1.23 years, freeing up reduced energy savings faster.

Related Organizations: State of New Jersey, CMC Energy

Resource Category: Funding

 

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