The application period is now open for Phase 1 of the Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) program from the Building Technologies Office of the U.S. Department of Energy. The program is designed to accelerate the transformation of U.S. buildings into energy efficient and clean energy-ready homes, commercial spaces, and communities.
The Buildings UP program is offering more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams across America with winning ideas to accelerate widespread, equitable energy efficiency and building electrification upgrades.
The program's Phase 1 application period runs from February 18 through July 18, 2023.
As noted by a program press release:
Upgrading existing buildings to efficiently run on clean energy will help address climate change. Solutions can be varied and may include adoption of efficient electric equipment and appliances, including heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, as well as enhanced building efficiency through measures such as insulation and air sealing. Together, these efforts will help reduce carbon emissions and energy costs while improving indoor air quality and occupant 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 program.
During Phase 1, competing teams will submit their innovative concepts aimed at increasing building energy upgrades through one of two pathways, “Equity-Centered Innovation” or “Open Innovation” :
• Equity-Centered Innovation Pathway: Applies to submissions focused on delivering upgrades to low- and moderate-income homes; small, disadvantaged businesses; and other equity-eligible buildings. Winning teams will receive $400,000 in cash.
• Open Innovation Pathway: Winning teams will receive $200,000 in cash.
• Application Support Prize: New and under-resourced teams may apply to win one of up to fifty prizes of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance to help them complete Phase 1 applications.
According to a press release, applications for the Support Prize opened on January 18, 2023 and will be awarded on a rolling basis until funds are expended. The remaining submission deadlines are March 15 and April 15, 2023.
In addition to cash prizes, winners from both pathways will also receive expert technical assistance and coaching to help bring their ideas to life.