The City of Evanston has submitted an application for nearly half a million dollars in stimulus-package money to administer a loan program to encourage small businesses to become greener. The funds, which would come through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would be used for “no-interest, small business, energy-efficiency loans” of $3,000 to $10,000, he said. Accompanying the loan would be a free energy audit of the business, which would show the business owner ways to reduce energy use.

As proposed, the federal funds would be matched by about $270,000 in City capital improvement funds over two years. City staff said they estimate that, with the program in full swing, the reductions in energy use would decrease the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 800 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

“The goal would be to spin the program off in three years to a community loan program,” Mr. Marino said. He said the City hopes to hear from the U.S. E.P.A. by October.