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Stories of Impact



Grow America’s commitment to a green future

Long before it was the practical thing to do, we were using sustainable elements, green technologies, and environmentally conscious solutions in our work. 

Since the 1970s, we have looked for ways to bring about meaningful change in the ways our work impacts the environment.

We always had future generations in mind. Our field of community development has finally arrived at a point that environmentally sound strategies are both the right thing to do and just good common sense.

Below is just a sampling of our national projects over the years that took sustainability into account:


Affordable housing is too often behind the curve in innovation and green technology. Sola/Model Z, a Southern California-based, minority-owned business, is already changing that outdated model. Their new factory will create over 300 jobs and produce over 1,000 affordable housing units per year. These units save as much as 60% in greenhouse gasses compared to traditional construction, require over 2 tons less building materials each, and produce 40% less waste and emissions.


A 24-acre portion of Louisville, KY’s Russell neighborhood used to be an uninhabitable brownfield. In 2021, it became a thriving community hub: the Norton Sports & Learning Center. The facility saves 14 million gallons of water and 15% energy savings over traditional construction. Other green features include energy-efficient lighting systems, Energy Star-certified equipment, and translucent wall panels to admit natural light.


Most public facilities like zoos place a massive burden on a community’s power grid. Not the Cincinnati Zoo. Since the installation of their first solar array in 2006, the zoo has been working toward net zero by 2025. They’re ahead of their ambitious schedule with the installation this year of an expanded solar array that provides shaded parking. Mark Fisher, the zoo’s VP of facilities and sustainability, says, “our hope is that just seeing, and parking under, our big arrays will inspire Zoo visitors to install solar panels at home.”


Founded in 1976 on the principles and traditions of our Chippewa Cree, the Rocky Boy Tribal Health Center in Box Elder, MT provides a full suite of professional health care and services for over 5,000 people with a staff of over 200 employees. Updates to its facilities include a closed loop geothermal system, efficient LED lighting, and a 97% efficient water heating system.


The San José Environmental Innovation Center (EIC) is a first-of-its-kind “green enterprise” facility and the first City of San José municipal building to earn LEED Platinum certification for new construction. Kerrie Romanow, chief sustainability officer for San José, says: “Though it predates Climate Smart San José, the city’s climate action plan, the EIC is truly a Climate Smart building and model for how our community can improve not only energy and water efficiency but also quality of life.”


Grow America’s SEED (Supporting Empowered Emerging Developers) Academy graduate Andre Satchell received a $25,000 loan from the SEED Pre-Development fund in support of the Sueno Phase I project in North Houston. This multi-family project with 325 affordable rental units will include solar panels to reduce monthly utility costs. Satchell’s group is also in discussions about having the project LEED certified. This project, when completed, will show that affordability and energy efficiency are not conflicting goals.


Located on the site of a former warehouse complex, the WCNY Broadcast and Education Center in Syracuse, NY represents more than 50,000 square feet of renovation and new construction. The facility received LEED Platinum certification in 2015, at a time when there were fewer than 800 LEED P9latinum buildings in the world. The building is in Syracuse’s economically distressed Near West Side, a neighborhood that has endured extensive disinvestment over the last 50 years.

New York

Efficient Lighting & Maintenance in Danbury, CT began focusing on energy conservation on 1999. With the help of small business loans, the company has expanded into services beyond lighting like refrigeration systems and HVAC. The company also helps its clients get energy rebates and assist with recycling older equipment.


Part of a $200 million portfolio of public-private partnership investments, WampWorx, a native-owned construction management firm that works across Indian Country, focuses on renewable energy projects on tribal lands. The company is headquartered in Mashpee, MA, and has undertaken green energy projects for Eastern Shawnee and Iowa tribes in Oklahoma. WampWorx is a member of Sovereign Energy Partners. Part of this same portfolio of public-private and Paycheck Protection Program investments and loans, woman-owned and operated Brilliant Source Energy provides analysis and consultation to reduce operating expenses on energy.


Ohio Cooperative Solar, established in 2009 and a key member of the Evergreen Cooperatives, employed local people to enhance energy efficiency in area institutions through solar power and weatherizing techniques. The cooperative specialized in installing solar panels and weatherizing low-income housing, including one on a brownfield site.


An innovative project in Suffolk County, NY installed fuel cells in a parking lot, generating energy that 10,000 homeowners could purchase from the electric company, saving them 10% on their electricity bills.

New York

In 2014, the State of Connecticut built a 15-megawatt fuel cell facility to generate 10% of the state’s alternative energy. The project aimed to provide low-income residents of Bridgeport, CT with at least 10% savings on electricity their costs.


The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, UT, was the largest solar array installed in Utah at the time it was built, representing almost 20% of all installed solar energy collection the state. The system offsets the convention center’s significant draw on the grid by making the facility more self-sustaining, saving the equivalent electrical usage of 250 average Utah homes. It’s also the largest grid-tied photovoltaic on Rocky Mountain Power’s entire electrical grid.



The iconic Center for Urban Waters in Tacoma, WA, is a world-class marine research and testing laboratory that houses government and non-profit groups that collaborate on policy making, research and enforcement designed to address the pollution problems facing urban communities. The building itself is designed to LEED Platinum standards and includes environmental innovations like sun shading, a green roof, storm water collection and reuse, and the extensive use of recycled materials.


Seattle neighborhood grocer Marketime has been celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest by providing our neighbors with fresh, mindfully sourced, scratch made, and locally produced goods with fast, friendly service. Marketime used a loan to upgrade their refrigeration systems for energy efficiency and costs savings, allowing them to pass on savings to their customers.


Have you heard?

Our partner Appalachian Community Capital, Grow America, and a number of other peer organizations have been selected by the EPA for a $500 million award.

A part of the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) competition, the results were just announced on April 4th.

Learn more

In the coming months, we will be launching more sustainability-oriented innovative training series to complement our economic and housing development finance certifications.

Sign up to learn more: