U.S. Department of Energy Announces the Buildings Upgrade Prize

Source: RL Martin

On January 18, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Office (BTO) announced a new competitive grant opportunity, the Buildings Upgrade Prize (or “Buildings UP”), which offers more than $22 million in cash prizes and expert technical assistance to support projects that accelerate equitable building energy efficiency and electrification upgrades across the country. Prizes are meant to build capacity for programs that leverage the billions of dollars available through federal legislation, state and local budgets, and utility incentive programs to reduce carbon emissions and energy costs in buildings while improving indoor air quality and comfort. Community-based organizations, state and local governments, Indian tribes, building owners, utilities, nonprofit organizations, energy efficiency program implementers, and other organizations are encouraged to team up and apply.

For the first time ever, DOE will also be offering up to 50 Application Support Prizes of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance for entities that do not have extensive experience submitting federal funding opportunity applications. This prize strives to lower application barriers and encourage participation from key community-based organizations and other non-traditional applicants. Applications for these support prizes opened for submissions on January 18, 2023, and will be awarded on a rolling basis.

In Phase 1 of Buildings UP, teams will submit innovative concepts to increase building energy upgrades, choosing to enter one of two pathways: “Equity-Centered Innovation” or “Open Innovation.” Winning “Equity-Centered Innovation” teams, focused on delivering upgrades to low- and moderate-income homes; small, disadvantaged businesses; and other buildings that fit equity-related criteria, will receive $400,000 in cash. Winning “Open Innovation” teams will receive $200,000 in cash. Winners from both pathways will also receive expert technical assistance and coaching to help bring their ideas to life. Phase 1 applications will open for submissions on February 18, 2023, and will be due by July 18, 2023.

Please attend this informational webinar on the Buildings UP prize on February 2, 2023 at 12:00 p.m. ET to learn more about the prize, forming a team, and how to apply. NASEO hosted a webinar on Feburary 16, 2023 for members featuring speakers from DOE, which included slides presenting an overview of the program. To keep up with prize updates, please visit this DOE webpage.