Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Public-private loan structures can support sustainability projects that might not otherwise take place. Loans may be privately financed and publicly administered, publicly offered to private entities to fund activities on private land, privately aggregated for activity on public land, or use some other combination of public and private resources to achieve sustainability goals. Often, these sustainability goals are sector specific and have been identified by the municipality or loan provider. In some cases, low interest rates are also offered to spur investment in areas that have historically lacked finance. Under these public-private programs, loan recipients may have to furnish evidence of implementing certain best practices in addition to proving their ability to repay the funds. Public-private structures have been used by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to encourage small businesses to spur local economic growth and advance energy efficiency by "acquir[ing] major fixed assets [such as land or buildings] for expansion or modernization" and in Philadelphia's Stormwater Management Incentive Program (SMIP) to "stimulate investment in and utilization of stormwater best management practices which reduce a parcel's contribution of stormwater to the City's system."


Eligibility criteria vary based on the type of applicant and issue being targeted by each program. According to the Philadelphia Water Department, in the case of Philadelphia's SMIP, "[l]oan applicants may include parcel owners of any non-residential Philadelphia-based property that implements stormwater management practices which reduce a parcel's contribution of stormwater." In the case of certain SBA "green" loans, eligible businesses must "be operated for profit and ... [be] large enough to accommodate most community-based business operations," while meeting the financial criteria that define "small" businesses.


Land Acquisition Loan Funds that encourage the development of affordable housing are one of the policy mechanisms included in a package of tools developed by EPA, the Urban Land Institute, and several other organizations for the City of Phoenix to apply to Transit-Oriented Development efforts.

Contact Information

Jennifer Crowther