For 20 years, the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) has helped Canadian municipalities switch to innovative and sustainable practices, faster. We’ve funded bold municipal initiatives, shared lessons learned across the country, created much-needed resources and brought new solutions to light. 

Our exceptional track record in municipal sustainability has ushered in a new chapter of aggressive growth at GMF. Last year, GMF was endowed with an additional $950 million federal investment to scale up its mission to drive cost-saving energy-efficiency across Canada and deliver results to Canadians. 

Broadening our reach means we’ll offer GMF’s benefits to more Canadians in municipalities of every size, across the country. Impressively, in 2019-2020, the GMF team did this while approving $92M in funding for capital projects, and close to $6.6M in plans, studies and pilot projects through our existing fund— the most funding approved in a single year since GMF’s inception.  

GMF also announced the creation of three new innovative offerings unlike our previous core funding models:  

  • Community Efficiency Financing (CEF) – empowering low-rise residential property owners to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades  

  • Sustainable Affordable Housing (SAH) – enabling energy efficient retrofit programs and new builds in the affordable housing sector 

  • Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) – in partnership with six organizations and spearheaded by The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), LC3 supports unique projects in seven major Canadian cities 

And it was a year of supporting bold initiatives, as we piloted GMF Signature Projects, dedicated to funding transformative, best-in-class municipal projects that fall outside the scope of GMF’s funding offers. It was a great success, approving more than $12M in loans and over $2M in grants. 

We did all this while offering excellent client service, sharing best practices with municipalities, and encouraging knowledge sharing and project replication. 

We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together in the past 12 months. These results showcase how when federal and municipal governments work together, we deliver for Canadians.    

Bill Karsten photo

Bill Karsten
President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Bill Karsten signature

Ben Henderson photo

Ben Henderson
Chair, Green Municipal Fund Council

Ben Henderson signature

Our Story

20 years of sustainability excellence

Our Story

The Green Municipal Fund is an undeniable Canadian success story. With support from GMF, municipalities have improved their air, water, and soil quality. They’ve reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and tackled the effects of climate change. We enthusiastically support municipalities’ efforts to implement sustainable practices quickly in this time of climate crisis. 

Twenty years ago, municipalities designed GMF to reliably support their sustainable municipal projects. GMF is delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), and received its financial backing from the Federal Government. Those key relationships remain in place today as cornerstones of GMF. 

Growing by leaps and bounds 

Initially, Canada’s federal government set aside $125M for GMF’s endowment fund. With that funding, we hired new staff, designed an initial program and supported our first pool of sustainability projects.  

In our early years, most sustainable municipal projects had modest outcomes, such as 10-15% reductions in emissions in municipally-owned vehicles. Our funding offers evolved alongside municipalities’ changing needs, and the size and scale of our funded projects grew significantly in 20 years.  

Today, our funded projects result in impressive environmental outcomes. We support everything from retirement residences that are fully off the grid on closed-loop clean energy systems to municipalities working to become net-zero communities. They represent the outstanding results our projects generate and the scale at which we now work. 

Through the years, we also expanded our capacity building program in parallel with our funding offers. This ensures that municipalities can implement higher-quality projects that yield the anticipated results. Fewer delays and cost overruns also means a better use of public funds. 

To date, we’ve funded more than 1,360 projects and are scaling hundreds of proven solutions in five sectors across Canada: energy, transportation, waste, water and brownfield redevelopment. We’ve approved more than $946M in sustainability initiatives and reduced GHGs by 2.7M tonnes. For two decades, we’ve shown that location and size are not barriers to protecting residents and fighting climate change.  

Our exceptionally well-managed fund will be here for municipalities and their project partners for decades to come. 

Key moments

As we look back on the past 20 years, these are the key moments that shaped our success and contributed to GMF’s growth:



GMF launches, with two Government of Canada investments, totalling $125M



GMF presents its first Sustainable Communities Award


GMF hosts its first bi-annual Sustainable Communities Conference



GMF has approved a project in every province/territory 


The Government of Canada invests a further $125M in GMF



The Government of Canada invests a further $300M in GMF; $150M is earmarked for brownfield capital project loans



GMF has disbursed $70M


GMF has disbursed $225M



GMF approves its first 1,000 projects



GMF has disbursed $500M



The Government of Canada invests a further $125M in GMF



GMF’s companion program, Partners for Climate Protection, celebrates its 25th anniversary 



The Government of Canada invests an unprecedented $950M in GMF


GMF celebrates its 20th anniversary



GMF has disbursed $734M and approved 1,361 projects

Success stories

We’re proud of the role we play in bringing proven, sustainable, municipal solutions to the foreground, and are keen to share our successes with you. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we’ve gathered 20 outstanding GMF case studies into a compendium. Highlights from five of those stories are below. They’re inspiring examples of what municipalities can achieve using GMF’s funding and capacity building offers. May these stories inspire projects in your community! 


Halifax Solar City water conservation project

Read more

Iqaluit LEED-certified aquatic centre

Read more

Canada’s first net-zero library in Varennes

Read more

Quebec’s electric vehicle-sharing system

Read more

Canada’s first all-hybrid bus fleet in Banff, AB

Read more

Looking for more success stories? 

Read our full compendium of 20 innovative projects funded through GMF. 

View more compendium case studies

20 year word mark



Our impact in 2019-2020

A year in review

Environmental benefits

Environmental benefits are the key mandate of every initiative we fund, and a pillar in our triple-bottom-line approach. These accomplishments are a deep source of pride for everyone involved in GMF and its funded initiatives. Below are the environmental impacts of GMF-funded projects since the program’s inception. 

GHG reductions

2.7 million

 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided

Energy savings


GJ of energy savings per year.

Wastewater and drinking water treated


cubic metres of water treated per year.

Water saved


cubic metres of water saved per year.

Waste diverted from landfill


tonnes of waste diverted per year.

Media managed


cubic metres of media (soil, groundwater and sediment) managed.

Land reclaimed


hectares of land reclaimed.

Equivalent to taking 608,000 cars off the road.

Equivalent to one year of power for 9,299 households.

Equivalent to 97,900 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Equivalent to the amount of potable water consumed in the City of Charlottetown in 2.7 months.

Equivalent to 24,800 garbage trucks.

Equivalent to 4,900 shipping containers.

Equivalent to 158 football fields.

Economic benefits

GMF’s investments in sustainable initiatives create economic benefits for individual communities and the country as a whole. Our investments stimulate local economic activity and contribute to municipal prosperity. We use the Local Economic Development (LED) model to calculate the economic impact of our investments in plans, studies, pilots and capital projects.

Since inception

total number of initiatives completed


Financial leverage

Below is the financial leverage of completed projects across the country for the 898 initiatives in which our investment represented at least 30% of the project’s total value (all numbers include direct and indirect results, but induced effects are not included): 


of national GDP


person-years of national employment


of national wages and salaries paid to households

Social benefits

Though they’re sometimes tougher to quantify than environmental and economic benefits, positive social outcomes are just as important to our work at GMF. Our funded projects add significant value to the quality of life of Canadians across the country. 

Community centres, cultural centres, and libraries


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Improves quality of life
  • Strengthens community ties
  • Supports cultural vitality
  • Preserves heritage
  • Supports educational activities
  • Provides local employment and volunteer positions

Recreation centres, pools, and ice rinks


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Promotes public health through physical activity
  • Improves local quality of life
  • Promotes economic growth through events and visitors


Affordable housing


capital projects



Social benefits

  • Creates welcoming places to live, work and start a business
  • Helps address poverty
  • Provides security and comfort to vulnerable populations
  • Retains workers and attracts newcomers
  • Enriches neighbourhoods and drives economic growth

Active transportation


capital projects




Social benefits

  • Improves public health through physical activity
  • Improves public safety
  • Boosts community pride

GMF’s impact across Canada: by the numbers

We work hard to achieve balance across Canada. In doing so, we’ve shown that location and size are not barriers to addressing climate change and broader sustainability objectives. Below you’ll find information about the sectors in which we work, and how our funding breaks down in terms of regions and urban-rural distribution. 

Distribution by sector

To help accelerate the transition to resilient Canadian municipalities, at GMF we focus our work on proven solutions in five sectors across Canada:

Land use

% of funding distribution

Distribution by region

The chart below includes the regional distribution of loans and grants for sustainable community plans, feasibility studies, pilot projects and capital projects in 2019-2020:


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled. 


% of population


Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total (grants & loans)


Total net approved since inception*

Total $ (grants & loans)


% of total $


*Total net approved since inception includes the original board-approved amount plus any additional approved amount, less the amounts withdrawn, closed or cancelled.

Breakdown by province/territory

All numbers include direct and indirect results, but induced effects are not included.

British Columbia

  • Number of projects completed: 216
  • $192,653,380 GDP
  • 2,107 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 117
  • $58,953,202 GDP
  • 557 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 41
  • $14,116,689 GDP
  • 150 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 40
  • $30,768,167 GDP
  • 365 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 391
  • $371,564,360 GDP
  • 4,407 person-years of national employment


  • Number of projects completed: 224
  • $145,815,181 GDP
  • 1,791 person-years of national employment

Atlantic (NB, NL, NS, PE)

  • Number of projects completed: 133
  • $154,818,319 GDP
  • 2,232 person-years of national employment

Territories (YT, NU, NWT)

  • Number of projects completed: 23
  • $3,090,978 GDP
  • 34 person-years of national employment

Distribution by urban-rural balance

The chart below includes the urban-rural distribution of loans and grants for sustainable community plans, feasibility studies, pilot projects and capital projects:

% of population
19% Small, rural and remote municipalities
81% Towns and cities


2019-2020 funding breakdown

Total  grants & loans ($)
$15,931,600 Small, rural and remote communities
$82,605,300 Towns and cities
% of total $
16% Small, rural and remote communities
84% Towns and cities

Total net approved since inception*

Total grants & loans ($)
$221,277,101 Small, rural and remote communities
$724,878,897 Towns and cities
% of total $
23% Small, rural and remote communities
77% Towns and cities

Key result area achievements

At GMF, we have two mandates: disbursing funding to municipalities and building their capacity to develop and deliver environmental infrastructure projects. Our team uses a strategic, five-year plan to guide our work in fulfilling these mandates. It includes 11 key result areas around which we plan our yearly activities.

Our 2019-2020 work in those key result areas is highlighted below. 

Our legacy for 2019-2020

Poised for more success

Municipalities are using unprecedented levels of innovation to solve their most complex environmental challenges. We’re here to help them get the most out of their investments and provide support at every step along the way. That’s our legacy—responsibly moving municipalities to proven sustainable solutions, faster. 

To this end, we launched three new initiatives in the past year: our partnership on the Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) program and new funding streams for Sustainable Affordable Housing and Community Efficiency Financing. We explore each one in turn below to demonstrate a few of the ways in which we’re putting the Government of Canada’s massive injection of $950M to use. 

How we ramped up so quickly

Our year of rapid expansion 

The Federal Government’s 2019 investment of $950M in GMF brought our fund’s total to $1.65B. This significant increase was a welcome acknowledgement of our successes as a national program. Our team rose to the occasion, developing innovative offerings and setting impressive benchmarks in the time-to-launch for several initiatives. This required an increase in the GMF workforce, which grew by 51% in FY 2019-2020.  

Learn more about the success factors that helped us create exceptional new initiatives in record time. 

  • Commit to innovation and enthusiasm

    From the beginning, we engaged partners, stakeholders and advisors who were highly motivated and excited to participate in something bold. Throughout our work together, participants in all of our new initiatives stayed true to their organizations’ values while collectively striving for innovative program designs and solutions. Internally at GMF, we also hired experts and created dynamic new positions on our teams. This unlocked new levels of energy in our staff members.

  • Rely on deep expertise

    We hired leading national consultants at GMF and added more expertise in-house before designing our SAH and CEF programs. We also invited experts with diverse perspectives to join advisory groups for those two initiatives. Post-launch, our in-house experts will work to support clients who apply to and are funded by SAH and CEF. The size and scale of this new chapter in GMF’s history and the innovative nature of our new initiatives attracted national leading experts with relevant expertise to share. Their valuable insights and knowledge of the problems our clients face has resulted in high-quality program designs that bypass the traditional roadblocks to success.

  • Encourage innovative program design

    From the outset, SAH and CEF worked with key stakeholders to design innovative and user-friendly models. In LC3’s case, the selected model gives the seven Centres the autonomy they need to address local needs. All three initiatives’ offerings are highly flexible and — much like when GMF was initially envisioned by municipalities — respond directly to known needs. LC3, for example, was co-created by its host organizations, who have first-rate insight into the sector’s needs. GMF has been proud to help support the work of turning this innovative program into a reality. SAH and CEF also worked (often in parallel) to bring their advisory groups’ insights to the foreground of their programs’ designs. This approach ensured a highly targeted and unique program offering from both initiatives.

  • Welcome new perspectives

    We’ve embraced diverse perspectives as critical to the success of any initiatives we roll out. SAH and CEF, for example, had a wide variety of voices at the table in order to fully clarify their clients’ needs so they could design relevant and ground-breaking initiatives. LC3 has created program infrastructure that allows its seven Centres to do the same — listen to many voices at a local level. LC3 created this framework with the input of host organizations in seven cities, including foundations and non-profit corporations. Though stakeholder engagement is widely used by GMF in its work with municipalities and their partners, having such diverse types of stakeholders at the table was new for GMF.

  • Create knowledge-sharing pathways

    GMF and the organizations with whom we’re partnering understand the value of sharing knowledge. SAH, CEF and LC3 all built this critical component into their program design, as it’s essential to scaling sustainable solutions quickly. Knowledge sharing will happen in several ways: GMF will share lessons learned by the initiatives with peer groups across the country. The local levels will also share information about their outcomes with GMF so it can extract lessons learned with a bird’s-eye view of the initiatives. LC3 will partner to disseminate knowledge locally as well as co-developing reporting tools with its seven Centres, using common measures that will facilitate network-level assessment and aggregation. SAH and CEF will also use common reporting tools across each of their programs.

  • Design client-friendly initiatives

    In our design processes, we put client interests and user experiences front and centre. Across the board, we heard that users wanted simple application processes and rapid assessments. They also wanted to decrease the reporting burdens they often face during and at the end of projects. We took these considerations into account in our final design models, particularly in the SAH and CEF initiatives, whose end-users are known. Each LC3 Centre will also embrace client-friendly approaches, catering to their local contexts while increasing the opportunities for learning across the network.

  • Build on a pre-existing foundation

    We didn’t start entirely from scratch. Beyond GMF’s 20-year history of successful sustainability initiatives, we relied on our partners’ and stakeholders’ work and lessons learned over many years. LC3 built upon years of work done by its founding host organizations, many of whom were well acquainted and had worked together for years, to create the foundation for the LC3 initiative. CEF was based on a program we initiated at GMF in 2012-13, whose lessons we used to establish the current initiative.

  • Enable highly agile project teams

    We tested (and succeeded with) new project management and project team models internally at GMF. We also required a high level of agility from our consultants, advisory boards, partners and stakeholders. Everyone moved quickly whenever it was necessary. The internal and external participants all understood that a roadblock could delay launch dates or other milestones. They remained nimble at every step in the process.

Our next steps

Our next steps

With enthusiastic new team members and a solid existing contingent of experienced and knowledgeable staff, we’ve set many projects in motion that will come to fruition in the coming years. Our newly bolstered team triggered work on several important initiatives before the end of the year, as outlined below.

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Promote the Municipal Energy Roadmap 

This past year, our team worked with consultants, sector experts and municipal stakeholders to finalize and vet GMF’s Municipal Energy Roadmap. It will help Canadian municipalities as they identify the most promising sustainability solutions for their local context. It supports them as they move toward a sustainable energy future, acts as a decision tool and offers municipalities guidance and resources as they move through implementation. Our finalization process included staff-led stakeholder consultations and a peer review process. We obtained valuable feedback, validated how municipalities will use the roadmap and learned what related resources would be helpful. 

The Municipal Energy Roadmap launched in the second quarter of 2020-2021. We’re reshaping our mobilization strategy and resource development in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will promote it online via webinars as well as through a dynamic online tool. 

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Design and launch new funding 

Staff are turning their attention to designing the next GMF funding stream. Of the $350M earmarked in Budget 2019 for the LC3-FCM Collaboration on Community Climate Action program, $167M in program funding remains to be designed and launched. We’ll use it to help reduce GHG emissions from large community buildings and other infrastructure, focusing on communities outside of the seven cities targeted by LC3. The launch is scheduled for spring 2021. 


Building a sustainable future

Addressing environmental, social and economic concerns

Building a sustainable future

For 20 years, GMF has helped municipalities reduce GHGs and mitigate the effects of climate change across Canada. Our unique model yields an incredible return on investments through compelling environmental, social and economic benefits. We’ve also shown that location and size are no barrier to fighting climate change and protecting people and the environment. 

It’s time to broaden the reach of GMF’s benefits to more municipalities and residents across Canada. That’s why GMF is moving into an exciting new chapter of aggressive growth; one that’s backed by the Government of Canada's unprecedented $950M investment in our fund. As a result, we’ve had an exceptional year, providing regular programming and new funding offers, all while preparing to extend the size and scope of our work across the country. 

Future GMF-funded projects will have an even greater focus on protecting the climate and enhancing quality of life for Canadians. Our hope is that municipalities in every province and territory will use our proven bank of viable solutions to accelerate their adoption of sustainable initiatives. 

Our team has spent 20 years honing its funding offers, training endeavors and capacity building resources. We’re fully confident that together, we can tackle sustainability issues in the energy, transportation, water, waste and land use sectors in every municipality. 

The time for municipalities to take action is now

Post pandemic recovery 

The economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 only adds to the urgency of our work. If we take action now, we can build a more prosperous, healthy and resilient country.

Investing in cities and communities is a proven stimulus strategy. Municipalities are responsible for 60% of Canada’s core infrastructure, making them critical to the country’s economic recovery. They’re best-placed to assess local needs and get projects moving efficiently. 

GMF is ready to support Canada’s post-pandemic economic recovery, and municipalities are primed to leverage our funding. In fact, our application intake has been steady—and is even growing—despite the challenges municipalities face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

There’s a well-established application, assessment and disbursement process at the ready and GMF can draw upon a wealth of training and capacity building resources. GMF has the ability to deliver a much-needed stimulus package to the front lines quickly and efficiently in the years to come. We’re ready to help Canada meet its climate objectives and recover from an economic downturn. 

We’re in this together.