Sustainable Community Buildings

We open applications for different council areas at different times. This is to make sure that we offer a spread of funding across Northern Ireland. It also helps us manage demand.

We’re open for applications from 7 February until 20 March 2024 for organisations with community buildings in:
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mid Ulster District Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council or Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

We’ll be open for applications from 11 September 2024 to 23 October 2024 for:
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council or Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

We’ll be open for applications from 8 January 2025 to 19 February 2025 for:
Belfast City Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

This funding is to help your organisation to:

  • learn how to be more environmentally sustainable – by attending carbon literacy training
  • understand what changes you can make to be more environmentally sustainable – by working with experts in sustainability to create an environment plan for your organisation
  • improve the environmental performance of your building – for example, we could offer funding so that you can add solar panels, improve insulation or install energy-efficient lighting
  • share the benefits of being more environmentally sustainable with your community
  • monitor, measure and report on the impact of your funding – for example, track what difference the improvements have made to carbon emissions, energy savings, community engagement and behaviour change
  • ultimately reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills.

This funding is part of our new strategy. One of our aims is to support communities to be environmentally sustainable.

Area
Northern Ireland
Suitable for
Voluntary or community organisations (with an annual income of less than £500,000)
Funding size
Up to £50,000  (capital funding only)
Application deadline

Check the deadline for your council area

Apply

To get funding

There are two stages to the application:

  • Stage one: Submit an expression of interest form.
    If you’re successful, we’ll ask you to sign up to carbon literacy training. We’ll also ask you to work with a sustainability expert to create an organisation environment plan.
  • Stage two: Apply for funding.
    This includes asking for up to £50,000 (capital funding) to improve the environmental performance of your community building. What you ask for will be based on your organisation’s environment plan.

Before you start – information about about stage one

To be considered for funding to improve the environmental performance of your community building (stage two) you must:

  • attend carbon literacy training

We ask that two people from your organisation attend the training. It should take around 2 days to complete. These days might not be consecutive.
It must be a committee or board member and a volunteer or staff member that attend.

Carbon literacy training gives you the practical knowledge and tools to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. It helps you look at individual, organisational and structural changes you can make. It also helps identify alternative energy sources that will reduce your costs.

  • work with a sustainability expert

We ask that you work with an expert (that we provide) to work out how to improve the environmental performance of your building. You’ll work with them to create an environment plan.

An environment plan covers what your organisation could do to reduce your impact on the environment. It also helps you understand if you could save money on
your energy bills.

Start stage one – expression of interest form

We’re open for applications from 7 February until 20 March 2024 for organisations with community buildings in:
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Mid Ulster District Council, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

We’re not accepting applications for community buildings in any other area at the moment.

Apply Continue online application

We’ll open funding from 11 September 2024 to 23 October 2024 for:
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Derry City and Strabane District Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

We’ll open funding from 8 January 2025 to 19 February 2025 for:
Belfast City Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council.

What information you need to apply  

You can see a full list of questions from the expression of interest form

You can also view our land and buildings guidance.

If it's difficult or impossible for you to complete an online application form  

You can contact us if you have any communication support needs. We’re happy to talk about other ways for you to apply.  

What happens next

  1. We'll email you to let you know we got your application.
  2. Your answers will be passed on to a funding officer, who will check your eligibility. This includes our security checks. You can find out more about the checks we do.
  3. We’ll email you to let you know if you’ve been selected for carbon literacy training and working with a sustainability expert.

How long it takes to find out

Stage one, expression of interest - we’ll aim to tell you a decision in around 6 weeks.  

Stage two, full application for funding - we’ll aim to tell you a decision in around 6 weeks.

We only have a certain amount of funding to award

We get a lot of applications. This means we have to make some tough decisions around what we can fund.

Check who can and cannot apply before filling out the application form.

We ask for contacts for your application

We ask for the contact details, home addresses and dates of birth of two different people from your organisation. We need a different email address for each person.

One person should be someone we can talk to if we have any questions about your project. The other should be a senior member of your organisation, who'll be legally responsible for the funding. Both need to live in the UK.

These two people cannot be related.

Related can mean:

  • related by marriage
  • in a civil partnership with each other
  • in a long-term relationship with each other
  • related through a long-term partner
  • living together at the same address
  • related by blood.

We ask for the legal name of your organisation - and its address. And what type of organisation it is  

Check these details before applying. Also check any registration numbers if you have them – like a charity number or company number. It will slow down your application if these details are not right.

We ask for information about your organisation’s accounts  

We’ll only fund organisations with an annual income of less than £500,000.

We want to know the date your accounts end each year and how much income you have.

If you do not have yearly accounts because you’re a new organisation (less than 15 months old), that’s okay. We can still look at your application.

We ask for information about your community building

For example, we’ll ask whether you’ve already got solar panels and we’ll ask how often your building is used.

If you’re awarded funding, you’ll need to send us a bank statement

We ask for one bank statement dated within the last three months. So, we can check the account you want us to pay the grant into.

We'll not be able to assess your application if you do not have a bank account and bank statement that meet our requirements below. If you’re not sure you should contact us to check if your bank account and statement are suitable.

We need:

  1. A bank account that meets our needs in our Financial Controls and Financial Governance Guidance
  2. A bank statement that meets our needs - like in this picture of the kind of bank statement we’re looking for.

What we need to see on your bank statement

The bank statement (or bank welcome letter if the account was opened within the last 3 months) must be:

  • uploaded as one single file
  • a file of 12MB or less in size
  • a PDF, JPEG or PNG file.

It should show:

  • the bank logo
  • your organisation's legal name
  • the address the statements are sent to
  • your bank's name
  • the account number and sort code
  • the date the letter/statement was issued.
  • If all these details are on one page, just send us that page.

What else we’d accept

If you have a new bank account opened within the last three months, we can accept a bank welcome letter instead of a statement. The letter must confirm the date the account was opened and all the account details.

If you’re unable to provide a bank statement, we can accept transaction listings, if they include everything we’d expect to see on a bank statement:

  • the bank logo
  • your organisation’s legal name
  • the address your bank uses for correspondence
  • your bank’s name
  • the account number and sort code
  • date the transactions listing covers.

What we do with your data

To find out how we use the personal data you give us you can read our Data Protection Statement.

Who can apply

You can apply if your organisation is a:   

  • unregistered voluntary or community organisation
    An organisation set up with a governing document - like a constitution. But is not a registered charity or company.
    If you get funding we'd expect you to incorporate or become registered with a regulator (For example, the Charity Commission or CIC regulator).
  • not-for-profit company
    A company limited by guarantee - registered with Companies House. And might also be registered as a charity.
  • registered charity (unincorporated)
    A voluntary or community organisation that's a registered charity. But is not a company registered with Companies House.
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO or SCIO)
    A registered charity with limited liability. But is not a company registered with Companies House.
  • Community Interest Company (CIC)
    A company registered with Companies House. And the Community Interest Company (CIC) Regulator.

You need at least 2 board or committee members who are not related

Related can mean:

  • related by marriage
  • in a civil partnership with each other
  • in a long-term relationship with each other
  • related through a long term partner
  • living together at the same address
  • related by blood.

All companies who apply must have at least two directors who are not related in any of these ways. This also applies to companies that are also registered as charities.   

We cannot accept applications from:

  • sports clubs that are affiliated with a governing body of sport (recognised by Sport Northern Ireland) – for example, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ulster Rugby and Irish Football Association
  • individuals
  • sole traders
  • faith or religious institutions - like churches, synagogues and mosques. However faith-based groups that are working in a community setting are eligible
  • organisations based outside Northern Ireland
  • companies that can pay profits to directors, shareholders or members (including Companies Limited by Shares)
  • statutory organisations
  • schools
  • organisations applying to more than one of our programmes for the same project over the same period. This is because you cannot get duplicate funding for something we're already funding you to do. It’s OK to apply to another programme if you've already had an unsuccessful decision though
  • one organisation applying on behalf of another.

We do not accept applications written for you by private businesses or consultants

Be careful of businesses or consultants who say they can support you with your funding applications. They might say they’re acting on the Fund’s behalf, or they’re a preferred supplier of the Fund. They could even offer to write an application for you.
We do not accept applications from these types of businesses or consultants.

But it’s ok to get help from support organisations - like your local council or Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA).
They may be able to give you support and advice on writing your application.

The projects we fund 

Our funding criteria

To get funding, your organisation must meet the following criteria.

  • Your community building must have been built before 2005
    We want our funding to make a big impact. So we are funding buildings that were constructed before 2005, as they are usually less energy efficient.
    For more information, check the land and buildings guidance.

  • You must own your building or have an unbreakable lease for at least 6 years
    We want to invest in community buildings that will benefit from this funding long-term.
    If you own the building, we'll ask to see the land registry title (at stage two).
    If you lease the building, we'll ask to see your agreement or contract (at stage two).
  • You must have an annual income of less than £500,000
    This is because larger organisations should already be considering sustainability.

  • You must not have solar panels already
    We want our funding to make a big impact. So we are funding buildings that do not already have solar panels, as they are usually less energy efficient.

  • Your building must be open and used
    We want to fund community buildings that are well-used by communities. We’ll ask for details about the number of people who use your building and its opening hours.

  • You must not be solely focused on delivering sports activities
    Or be affiliated with a governing body of sport (recognised by Sport Northern Ireland. We’ll still consider your application if sports clubs are part of a range of groups that use your community building. However we cannot fund sports clubs that are affiliated with a governing body of sport – for example, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ulster Rugby and Irish Football Association.

If your expression of interest is successful, you’ll also need to:

  • complete carbon literacy training
    We ask that two people from your organisation attend the training. It should take around 2 days to complete. These days might not be consecutive.
    It must be a committee or board member and a volunteer or staff member that attend.
  • work with a sustainability expert
    We ask that you work with an expert (that we provide) to work out how to improve the environmental performance of your building. You’ll work with them to create an environment plan.

There is no guarantee you’ll get funding to improve your community building

Even if you complete the training and work with the sustainability expert.

This is because we only have a set amount of funding to improve the environmental performance of community buildings and we want to fund where we can make the greatest impact.

Why it’s good to do the carbon literacy training anyway

There is high demand for carbon literacy training across Northern Ireland. It can also be an expensive course. If you complete it, you’ll learn how to reduce your organisation’s impact on the environment, free of charge, which you can use in the future.

As part of our new strategy, future funding will require organisations to consider their environmental sustainability. This training will help you prepare for this, even if you don’t get funding.

We also expect projects that we fund to:

  • have ideas on how to share the benefits of being more environmentally sustainable with their community
    We want you to share what you’ve done to empower others in your community.
  • monitor, measure and report on the impact of their funding
    For example, we’ll want you to track what difference the improvements have made to carbon emissions, energy savings, community engagement and behaviour change.

If you already have funding from us

You can apply if you have a current grant from us. We’ll consider how this funding would complement and affect existing awards when we are assessing your application.      

We'll support projects across Northern Ireland

When making a decision, we’ll consider the type of organisation you are and your location. We’ll make sure the funding has a wide reach across Northern Ireland.

We'll take this into account when assessing your application against others that we receive.

What you can spend money on

If you’re invited to apply for funding to improve your building’s environmental performance, we can fund things like: 

  • solar panels
  • battery storage
  • ground-source heat pumps
  • energy efficient lighting
  • new insulation
  • energy-efficient windows and doors.

Every building will need something different. We’ll ask you to work with a sustainability expert to work out exactly what your building might need. These things will be recorded in your environment plan, which will be what you’ll use to apply for funding.     

We cannot fund: 

  • anything that’s not listed on the environment plan that you create with the sustainability expert 
  • electric vehicle (EV) charging points
  • revenue costs for your organisation – like salaries or running costs
  • activities or events.

If you’re ready to start your expression of interest

Apply