U.S. Department of Energy
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DOE awards $22 million to advance equitable energy efficiency

Oct. 16, 2023
The Buildings Upgrade Prize Phase 1 winners will advance to Phase 2 with up to $400,000 each in cash prizes and extensive technical assistance.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 45 Phase 1 winners in the Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP), which awards more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams developing scalable and replicable initiatives for widespread energy efficiency and efficient electrification building upgrades. These innovative models aim to accelerate greenhouse gas reduction, equity, economic development, and health goals.

In Phase 1 of Buildings UP, state governments, local governments, tribes, community-based organizations, building owners, utilities, nonprofit organizations, energy efficiency program implementers, and other organizations were encouraged to create cross-sectoral teams and submit concepts to address persistent administrative, financial, social, and other barriers to building energy upgrades. The multi-stakeholder teams selected to advance to Phase 2 of the prize will make an impact through their own projects and serve as a blueprint for others across the United States.

Jeff Marootian, principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE) remarked:

“We received an unprecedented number of submissions to this prize, demonstrating nationwide enthusiasm for developing solutions that drive scalable building energy efficiency and electrification upgrades across the country. No two buildings have the same upgrade needs due to variations in size, use, age, location, and more. Phase 1 winning teams developed robust initiative concepts that center equity and will accelerate energy upgrades in a wide range of buildings. We look forward to seeing these Phase 1 concepts take shape in the next phase of this prize.”

Phase 1 winners were chosen in two prize pathways: Equity-Centered Innovation and Open Innovation.

Thirty-nine teams in the Equity-Centered Innovation Pathway were selected to move onto Phase 2 of the prize for their concepts to deliver scalable and replicable upgrades to buildings in disadvantaged communities, low- and moderate-income households, and underserved commercial, nonprofit, and public buildings. Equity-Centered Innovation Pathway Phase 1 winners each received a $400,000 cash prize. 

Six teams in Phase 1 Open Innovation Pathway were selected to move to Phase 2 for proposing a new, replicable, and scalable initiative or an innovation to an existing initiative that addresses a persistent barrier to building energy upgrades. Open Innovation Pathway Phase 1 winners each received a $200,000 cash prize.

All winning teams will also receive technical assistance to identify resources as they advance their concepts into pilot plans in Phase 2. Read more about the Phase 1 winners.

Buildings UP was developed and funded by the Building Technologies Office (BTO). It is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is part of the American-Made program, which fast-tracks innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring. Buildings UP Phase 1 winners have access to the American-Made Network, connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s national labs and the private sector. Mentoring, tools, resources, and support through the American-Made Network help accelerate the transition of ideas into real-world solutions to achieve clean energy goals.

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