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Green Municipal Fund

FAQs: Projects

What makes a capital project an excellent candidate for GMF funding?

Under the GMF selection process, high-ranking projects demonstrate a new solution or approach to a municipal environmental issue. These projects should generate new lessons for municipalities of a certain region or type, or for the Canadian municipal sector as a whole, and should provide significant environmental benefits, a strong business case and social advantages. Additionally, they should be complemented by local policies and measurement systems.

GMF eligibility criteria provide a starting point only. Other GMF program considerations may affect funding decisions, such as regional balance and rural-urban balance.

What types of initiatives are eligible for capital project funding?

GMF supports capital infrastructure projects that optimize energy performance (including transportation-related energy), water performance or waste reduction.

Are transportation projects still eligible for funding?

Yes. Transportation projects are now assessed under the energy performance criteria.

What if my project doesn’t meet a specific environmental threshold, but qualifies under the GMF definition of an exceptional project?

We will consider, on a case-by-case basis, capital project applications that don't meet any of the prescribed environmental thresholds, but that demonstrate strong direct environmental benefits and exceptional knowledge value (i.e. the project demonstrates a new solution or approach to a municipal environmental issue). If you think your project meets this description, please contact a GMF advisor.

How much funding is available for the year?

In 2015—2016, we are aiming to approve $30 million in loans and $5 million in grants for capital projects. An additional $20 million in loans is available for brownfield capital projects.

What costs are eligible and when do they become eligible?

If your application is approved, costs become eligible as of the date that we receive your complete application. Costs incurred to hire a consultant to prepare the application form are also eligible up to 90 days before the date we receive your application. Eligible costs are partially reimbursed.

Please see our eligible costs for capital projects. Contact us for more details about our eligible cost dates and reimbursement procedures.

What is a risk management plan?

A risk management plan describes how your organization plans to minimize the environmental, business and financial risk of the project activities and outcomes. Typically, it includes identifying the types of risks, the probability that they will occur, their potential impact, and how your organization can reduce the probability or the impact. This may be part of a feasibility study or business plan.

What is the application deadline and when will I know whether my project will be funded?

We aim to provide a funding decision within five to six months from date we receive your complete application, including all required documents.

While we will continue to accept applications year-round, funding decisions for capital project applications in the energy, transportation, waste and water sectors will be made twice a year, with the first review period in February 2016, followed by another in September 2016. Contact a GMF Advisor for more details.

How can I find out whether my application is likely to be approved?

Applicants with projects in all sectors, except brownfields, must first complete an Initial Review form to assess their eligibility for funding. The full application form will be made available to applicants only after completing the Initial Review.

The Initial Review form, the new GMF Application Form and a series of new and updated application resources will be available on April 1, 2015. If you are applying for a capital project in the energy, transportation, waste and water sectors, our Project Scorecard will help you assess your likelihood of receiving funding. It will give you a clear idea of what we are looking for in a strong application, and will help you assess how your application will be scored through our independent peer review process.

In making its selection, the GMF Council will consider a number of factors, including the independent peer review score, GMF's funding priorities, as outlined in our Funding Agreement with the Government of Canada, including regional balance and innovation, as well as the available funding. For more information, see our new selection process.

What is the difference between the new funding approval process effective April 1, 2015, and the previous one?

There is no difference in the funding approval process for plans, feasibility studies, pilot projects and brownfields capital projects. Applications are reviewed as they are received in a non-competitive process. They are not compared against other applications; instead they are scored according to established criteria.

To best manage the funding available to support high-scoring capital projects, we follow a competitive process for projects in the energy, transportation, waste and water sectors. Following an initial review stage (not required for brownfield projects), your application will be compared against other applications received, and only the best projects will be approved for funding. For more information, see our funding approval process.

Under the competitive review process, capital project applications will be considered twice a year by GMF Council (in February and September). Final funding approval rests with the FCM Board of Directors.

How do I submit an application?

The first step is to email or call a GMF advisor at 1-877-997-9926. Our advisors would be happy to talk with you about the type of projects we seek to support; share information on best practices in the field; and help you adapt your project, if desired, to maximize your chances of obtaining funding. Read more about how to apply for funding.

What prerequisite documents do we need to submit with a capital project application?

Following an initial review of you and your project's eligibility (not required for brownfield projects), you may prepare an application, including several prerequisite documents: a supporting feasibility study; a risk management plan; letters of confirmation of sources of funding (if available) and support from the municipality; municipal plans, programs or policies that support the project, and a summary of the results of any required environmental assessment of the proposed project.

We recommend also attaching the detailed project design to the application (if available).

Municipal corporations and private-sector applicants must also submit additional financial documents for credit risk assessment.

In this process for capital projects in the energy, transportation, waste and water sectors, how do you choose which projects to approve?

Will you share with us the independent peer review score?

No. However, once a funding decision has been made, we will share the peer review comments with you. This information will allow you to gain insight on how your project meets GMF objectives.

After a capital project application is denied, can it be resubmitted?

Yes. However, a project that has been denied funding by GMF Council must undergo significant modifications to be reconsidered, and would be submitted as a new application.

Please contact a GMF advisor if you are considering reapplying for funding.

What are the key considerations in the final funding approval for a capital project?

Project applications are evaluated by our peer reviewers using rated criteria which will be available on GMF's website, along with other application resources, on April 1, 2015. Note that GMF Council considers a combination of factors in recommending projects for funding. These factors are requirements under the Funding Agreement with the Government of Canada:

  • Project outcomes — environmental, social, economic benefits; innovation and potential for replication (evaluated by peer reviewers).
  • Fund sustainability — FCM must manage the risk and return on loans to maintain GMF as an evergreen source of funding for municipalities and their partners.
  • Strategic considerations for the Fund — regional balance, urban-rural balance, a minimum 15 per cent of outstanding loans must be approved for non-municipal borrowers.

Does this competitive process apply to brownfields projects?

No. Applications for brownfield capital projects will still be reviewed as they are received. They will not be compared to other applications, but instead scored according to established criteria.

Why should I fill out the Project Scorecard?

The independent peer review score is an important component of our funding selection process. Peer reviewers use a Project Scorecard to assess your project. Once our updated version of this tool is available, on April 1, 2015, you may use it to give you a clear idea of what we are looking for in a strong application and to help you assess how likely your project is to be approved for funding.

Use the scorecard before you begin preparations on an application to confirm that you have a strong, eligible project. Keep it close by as you complete the application form to make sure that your application and supporting documents effectively address each of the items that will be evaluated.

Given the demand for funding, is there a risk that you might have to stop accepting new applications despite this new process?

No. This process is designed to enable us to continue accepting new applications and to ensure that the best projects are approved regardless of when the application is submitted.

Do I have to fill in the Project Scorecard before submitting my application?

No. This tool is optional but we strongly encourage you to use it.

What happens if I need to change the scope of my project? Will I need to submit a new application?

Yes. Your new application will go through the same competitive review process as the initial application.

What percentage of eligible costs is covered for capital projects?

We cover up to 80 per cent of eligible costs for capital projects through a combination of a loan and grant. Grants are not available for capital projects in the brownfields sector.

How does FCM disburse the funds approved for capital projects?

FCM typically disburses the entire loan amount at project completion and the borrower submits a Project Completion Report. Multiple disbursements (up to three) may be offered at the request of the applicant in provinces in which this option is permitted by legislation. Any loan amounts will be disbursed against incurred eligible expenses.

At the time of the final loan disbursement, at least 50 per cent of the grant amount (with a maximum holdback of $250,000) will be disbursed as well. The final grant disbursement occurs after the borrower submits the Environmental Results Report.

Is there a grace period on repayment of the loan?

For capital projects in the brownfields sector only, you may request a flexible repayment schedule or repayment period. This flexibility may be reflected in the interest rate you are charged. During the grace period, you will be required to pay the interest accrued.

Is there a penalty for early repayment of a loan?

Yes. Standard conditions in the loan contract for capital projects in all sectors prohibit repayment before the mid-point of the loan term. A three per cent penalty will be applied to any early repayment of the loan after the mid-point of the term. However, under certain conditions, this early repayment penalty can be removed from the contract, but will be reflected in the interest rate you are charged.


What is a brownfield?

A brownfield is an abandoned, vacant, derelict or underutilized commercial, industrial or institutional property where past actions have resulted in actual or perceived contamination or threat to public health and safety and where there is active potential for redevelopment. For more information, visit our one-stop-shop for resources to help you Revitalize your Brownfields.

What types of brownfield capital projects are eligible?

Several types of brownfield capital projects are eligible for GMF funding: site remediation or risk management projects, and renewable energy production projects built on a brownfield. As of April 1, 2015, funding is also available for redevelopment projects that will be built on remediated brownfield sites, provided that they meet eligibility requirements in the energy, transportation, waste or water sectors.

Our plan will include brownfield redevelopment actions and will deal with issues such as energy reduction, sustainable transportation and others. Would the costs associated with these other areas also be eligible for funding?

Yes. We encourage municipalities to consider other issues such as energy, transportation, waste and water in their community brownfield action plans. Costs related to those areas are eligible for funding.

In developing our brownfield action plan, we plan to undertake several Phase 1 environmental site assessments (ESAs) to establish an inventory of contaminated sites. Are these ESAs eligible for funding?

No. Phase 1 ESAs are not eligible for GMF funding under either the current offer or the new offer.

Is there a competitive review process for brownfield projects?

No. Applications for brownfield capital projects will continue to be reviewed as they are received. They will not be compared to other applications, but instead scored according to established criteria.

Is the redevelopment of a brownfield site eligible for funding?

Yes. As long as the proposed development meets the environmental performance criteria for another GMF capital project category (energy, transportation, waste or water), the project is eligible for a loan. Grants are not provided for brownfield capital projects. As with other brownfield project applications, the review process is non-competitive.

Can a landfill site be considered a brownfield?

Closed municipal landfills that meet provincial requirements are eligible for redevelopment funding. Industrial landfills, closed or open, are eligible for redevelopment and remediation/risk management funding.

Does FCM offer grants for brownfield capital projects?

No. In compliance with our Funding Agreement with the Government of Canada, only loans are available for brownfield projects, whether they are for remediation, risk management or redevelopment funding.


A feasibility study for our proposed net-zero building shows that it may be difficult to produce as much energy as we consume. Is it still worth applying for GMF funding?

If you can demonstrate that you have considered all ways to achieve net-zero performance, but that situational constraints may make them impossible to achieve, you are still encouraged to apply for GMF funding. Be sure to explain in your application how you will reduce fossil fuel energy use to the greatest extent possible, and include a realistic estimate of projected energy savings compared to the provincial building code. 

Should I include process loads when trying to meet the energy reduction criteria for building retrofits?

We accept project applications based on improvements to either the building envelope or the processes used in municipal operations, or both. FCM seeks to approve GMF funding for projects that improve energy-intensive processes and systems, such as wastewater treatment. 

What is a retrofit building?

FCM has aligned its GMF eligibility criteria with established industry standards for determining whether a project qualifies as a retrofit or a new building. Our criteria is consistent with the Canada Green Building Council LEED® definition that describes a retrofit as an alteration that affects a maximum of 50 per cent of the total building floor area; or that displaces no more than 50 per cent of regular building occupants. 

Will FCM fund the construction or retrofit of a non-municipally owned building that meets the eligibility criteria for energy capital projects?

Non-municipally owned buildings that meet the eligibility criteria for energy capital projects are eligible for funding if the lead applicant demonstrates that: 

a) The project is a municipal environmental project — meaning that it responds to a municipal need and contributes to cleaner air, water, or soil, or reduces GHGs.

b) There is a partnership between the lead applicant and a municipal government and the municipal government has a genuine interest and active involvement in the project. 

Can I apply for funding for renewable energy projects?

Projects involving renewable energy generation are eligible if they are implemented as a part of a larger building retrofit or a net-zero energy building. FCM does not fund stand-alone renewable energy projects, except when they are on a brownfield site.


What are vehicle kilometres travelled? How do I calculate them?

Vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) is a measurement unit that allows you to estimate fuel savings, GHG emissions and transit system efficiencies. VKT represents the average distance of travel multiplied by the number of trips over a specific time period and is usually expressed on an annual basis as VKT/year. You can estimate, extrapolate, measure or calculate these factors using many different tools and sources such as transit data, surveys, traffic monitoring studies, and Statistics Canada data. Using VKT/year, you can compare different modal shift projects or aspects of modal shift projects in common terms. 

How can I estimate the GHG savings I will achieve through my fuel switching project?

Numerous software programs can be used for analyzing your fuel switching project, including the federal government's GHGenius program, which is free.


What is the baseline against which municipal solid waste diversion is measured?

The baseline is the total amount of solid waste generated in the municipality, for which municipal government is responsible. For example, if the municipal government is only responsible for residential waste, and not for any industrial, commercial or institutional (ICI) waste, the baseline against which solid waste diversion would be measured would be limited to residential waste.

The waste diversion criteria described on the GMF website specify that for remote communities, an eligible project must target an incremental diversion rate of 15 per cent over the current baseline. How do I know if my community qualifies as remote?

Remote communities are broadly defined as having limited or no access to other communities via ground transportation. Their access to services may be through seasonal roads (e.g., ice roads), air, rail or water. Remote communities may also be off-grid, and often have limited access to markets. If you believe your community qualifies as remote, contact with a GMF advisor, and be sure to provide details on any particular challenges related to waste in your funding application form.

Are thermal treatment projects eligible for funding?

Projects that undertake thermal treatment of solid waste (e.g. gasification or incineration) are only eligible if your municipality already diverts 60 per cent or more of its solid waste from landfill. For remote communities, minimum diversion rates do not apply for thermal treatment projects. 


If I implement a residential water conservation program, how would it be considered a municipal environmental project?

To be considered a municipal environmental project, your project must meet certain conditions. First, the municipality must identify it as a priority in efforts to achieve its sustainability objectives. Second, project costs must be incurred by the municipality or an organization partnering with a municipal government entity. In the case of a residential water conservation program, any capital costs would have to be incurred by the municipality because FCM does not lend to private individuals or residents. The expenses could then be transferred to residents by the municipality through fees, taxes, or other means. 

Does FCM accept new buildings that exceed the 40-per-cent water eligibility performance threshold?

The 40-per-cent water performance threshold applies to retrofit projects only. Under GMF eligibility criteria, only new buildings that approach net-zero energy consumption or those that meet energy requirements in the brownfield redevelopment category would be eligible. 

What types of septic system projects are eligible for funding?

Eligible projects must capture and treat 100 per cent of septic system contents in a target area. They also must achieve more advanced levels of treatment such as secondary treatment or beyond (e.g. nutrient removal). Projects defined as business-as-usual, such as simple tank replacement within the same system, are not eligible for funding.

Page Updated: 28/02/2017