The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has awarded US$2 million in its first round of grants to 28 non-profit organizations and local governments in the state.CHICAGO, Illinois (US) 2002-01-28 [SolarAccess.com] The $2.1 million in grants concentrate on integrating energy efficiency into new and rehabilitated buildings, and using the cost savings from energy efficiency investments to promote economic development. The grants are like “climbing a ladder,” says ICECF chairman, Peter Peters. “Every step to a higher level of efficiency saves energy, leading to lower costs for consumers, increased economic growth and reduced pollution in our communities.” The 28 grants are awarded to non-profit groups and local governments, and many will design energy efficient public buildings, including police stations, nature centres, schools and affordable housing developments. Other grants will support the use of energy efficiency as an economic development tool for downtown revitalization and job creation and retention. In a state poll commissioned by ICECF, 84 percent of respondents cited the benefits to their communities of businesses and manufacturing plants investing in clean energy technologies. ICECF commissioned the poll to benchmark Illinois residents’ attitudes on energy issues prior to making its first grants. The grants respond to public support for improving energy efficiency in public buildings. The poll showed that 75 percent say it is important for governments to make new and existing buildings energy efficient; 84 percent favoured requiring energy efficient designs for all government-funded construction projects; and 76 percent called for changing local building codes to require homes and businesses to be energy efficient. ICECF is backing its grants with an initiative to work with Illinois municipalities to capture the momentum for energy efficiency. ICECF received its $225 million endowment from Commonwealth Edison, part of the Exelon Corp.