Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (BRITE) Program
Cook County’s Department of Environment and Sustainability (DES) has established the Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (BRITE) program. This free program helps businesses reduce their environmental impact, create a healthier environment for their employees, customers and community by offering on-site assessments to reduce pollution.
Once an assessment has been completed, select businesses will be offered the opportunity to apply for grant funding. This funding will go towards implementing saving solutions and recommendations on ways to best modernize operations and implement cost saving solutions.
Initially, the BRITE program will be available to dry cleaning facilities. Following that, the program will become available to additional businesses including auto body and auto repair shops, metal finishers as well as food and beverage manufacturers.
Cook County has allocated $10 million to launch the BRITE program and subsequent grant opportunities.
Businesses interested in applying for an assessment must have been in operation during 2019 and must demonstrate a decrease in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses can apply for grants to be used toward the following categories: toxics and pollution reduction, renewable energy, energy and water efficiency as well as waste reduction projects identified during the assessment.
To receive grant dollars from the BRITE Grant, small businesses must complete a free assessment by DES. Once the assessment is complete, DES staff will inform business owners of any upgrades and efficiencies that can be made to reduce costs and environmental impact. The BRITE program specialist will review all voluntary recommendations with the business owner and will work with the business owner on the following items:
- Selecting which recommendations the owner wants to work on
- Anticipate total cost of implementing each recommendation
- Walk business owner through the BRITE Grant application and connect the owner to other related funding opportunities.
BRITE Program and Grant Eligibility
Businesses must meet the following criteria to be considered for the program:
- Must be located within suburban Cook County, IL
- Must have no more than 50 full-time employees
- Must have been in operation prior to January 1, 2020
- Must have experienced negative economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrated by proof of revenue loss
- To receive grant support, must agree and demonstrate that grants will be used to improve business practices that have been identified through the pollution prevention technical assessment
Priority for scheduling and funding opportunities will be given to businesses located within socially vulnerable communities, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you have questions about your eligibility, please email BRITE@cookcountyil.gov.
Program Process Overview
Step 1 - Sign up to Participate and Schedule Assessment
- Sign up in English, Spanish or Korean.
- Once signed-up for the BRITE program, a DES team member will contact you to review program requirements and schedule the initial on-site assessment.
Step 2 - Complete Pre-Assessment Requirements
- Business owners will register their facility by visiting the BRITE program Web Portal and complete the pre-assessment requirements.
Step 3 - Conduct Assessment
- An environmental specialist from DES will walk through the business with the owners to conduct an initial assessment. During the walk-through, the specialist will go through a checklist of items to review current business practices and make recommendations on how ways to enhance operations, employee health and safety as well as the environment.
- For example, the specialist may find an outdated machine on-site and recommend a more energy efficient model that would enhance business operations.
- The specialist may determine if additional specialized environmental assessments are needed.
- For example, the specialist may coordinate with a utility assessment consultant on your behalf to conduct a more thorough energy or water assessment. These assessments will be conducted at no cost to you.
Step 4 – Specialist Consultation to Review Recommendations
- The environmental specialist will collect all assessment reports and break down results into an easy-to-read final report for your business. The environmental specialist will walk you through each recommendation, including potential costs and cost savings, and will consult with you on the best way to complete each item.
Step 5 - Business Owner Selects Recommendations
- After consulting with the specialist, you choose which recommended practices you're interested in moving forward with.
- If you would like to apply to the BRITE Grant, you must agree to use grant awards toward the recommendations identified during the assessment.
Step 6 – Implement Business Enhancements and Complete Program Participation
- After the recommended business enhancements are made, a DES environmental specialist will evaluate the completion of each item.
- For example, the specialist may review purchase receipts, take pictures of equipment installations, look at employee training certificates, etc.
The BRITE Grant offers grants to businesses enrolled in the BRITE program. Grants are offered for each measure identified on the final assessment report created by your environmental specialist. Please note that BRITE grants can only be used on items specified in the final assessment report. The grant award amount will vary per measure identified in the assessment.
Applications for BRITE grants will open in spring 2023. More information will be released at that time. Please review the FAQs provided below for details on the BRITE process. If you need additional support, please email the BRITE team at BRITE@cookcountyil.gov.
Additional Funding Opportunities and Resources
- Cook County Small Business Source directly connects small business owners with expert guidance and support to take businesses to the next level.
- Cook County’s C-PACE Program helps property owners secure low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficient upgrades.
- Utility Rebate and Assessment Programs
- Illinois Green Business Association provides assistance with implementing green business practices.
Key Dates for BRITE Program
- November 2022: Assessment Scheduling Begins
- Eligible Business Category: Dry Cleaning Facilities
- January 2023: Additional Business Categories Added to BRITE
- Auto body and auto repair shops, food and beverage manufacturers, metal finishers and all other business categories
- March 2023: Grant Applications Open
Click here for answers to frequently asked questions.
Further questions? Please email BRITE@cookcountyil.gov.