Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (BRITE) Program
low-level alert: Sign up for a free environmental assessment.
The Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability’s (DES) free Businesses Reducing Impact on the Environment (BRITE) program helps businesses reduce their environmental impact while creating a healthier environment for their employees, customers and community by offering on-site assessments to reduce pollution.
Once an assessment has been completed, eligible businesses will have the opportunity to apply for grant funding. This funding will go towards solutions that save money, reduce impact on the environment and modernize operations.
Currently, the BRITE program is available to small businesses with no more than 500 full-time employees in the following industries: dry cleaning facilities, auto body and auto repair shops, metal finishers and 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 (no more than 500 full-time employees) 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 a BRITE grant, small businesses must complete the interest survey by DES or must have had a similar environmental assessment conducted by a DES partner or third party. 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 and complete the following steps:
- Consult with the business owner to select which recommendations they would like to complete.
- Estimate total cost of implementing each recommendation.
- Walk the business owner through the BRITE grant application process and connect them to other related funding opportunities.
The BRITE grant offers funding to businesses enrolled in the BRITE program and businesses that have received similar environmental assessments from 2018 onwards. Grants are offered for each recommendation identified on the final assessment report created by an 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 recommendation identified in the report.
Please review the FAQs provided below for overall details regarding the BRITE program process. For additional support, please email the BRITE team at BRITE@cookcountyil.gov.
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 500 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
For any questions about eligibility, please email BRITE@cookcountyil.gov.
Step 1 - Sign up to Participate and Schedule Assessment
- Complete the interest survey (available in English, Spanish, or Korean).
- Once a business is signed up for the BRITE program, a DES team member will contact the business owner 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.
- Businesses must also sign our Right of Entry agreement (link when available) prior to a specialist coming to the site. This agreement will also be found on the assessment sign-up form or will be sent to the owner separately prior to the assessment.
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 ways to enhance operations, reduce environmental impact and improve employee health and safety.
- 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 behalf of the business to conduct a more thorough energy or water assessment. These assessments will be conducted at no cost to the business.
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 the business. The environmental specialist will walk the business owner through each recommendation, including potential costs and cost savings, and will consult with the owner on the best way to complete each item.
Step 5 - Business Owner Selects Recommendations
- After consulting with the specialist, the business owner will choose which recommended practices they are interested in moving forward with.
- If the owner would like to apply to the BRITE Grant, they 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.
- 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 and water efficiency, renewable energy, and resiliency Upgrades.
- Utility Rebate and Assessment Programs
- Illinois Green Business Association provides assistance with implementing green business practices.
Learn more about what is going on with BRITE by viewing this brief video from CBS.