Apr 5, 2023
Applications Open for $22 Million Toward Equitable Building Energy Upgrades
ACEEE's R2E2 is supporting applicants of DOE's Buildings UP program with training and capacity building assistance.
By: Stephanie Sosa-Kalter
State, local, and tribal governments, as well as community-based organizations, could be eligible for federal funding to jumpstart building energy upgrades, including affordable housing and underserved commercial buildings in frontline communities.
The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to teams that develop innovative concepts for efficient electrification energy efficiency needed in buildings in their communities. The cash prizes and technical assistance are part of the department’s Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP), which it announced in January.
To support applicants with the prize, Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) has kicked off training and capacity building assistance to state, local, and tribal governments and community-based organizations.
R2E2’s ongoing webinar series covers the basics of energy efficiency and building decarbonization, funding for affordable housing retrofits, prioritizing equity in building retrofits, workforce and economic inclusion strategies, community-driven planning, and retrofits for underserved commercial buildings. The webinars kicked off in March, covering topics like an overview of the Buildings Upgrade Prize, the benefits of comprehensive retrofits, and engagement across a wide range of stakeholders.
R2E2 is a partnership of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Elevate, Emerald Cities Collaborative, and HR&A Advisors, with strategic advice from the People’s Climate Innovation Center. R2E2 works to advance affordable housing energy upgrades to lower energy bills and climate pollution while advancing racial equity, local workforce development, and health goals.
“Too many households—especially families with lower incomes—live in poorly insulated and energy-inefficient homes, leaving them with high utility bills and uncomfortable or dangerous temperatures,” said Annika Brindel, director of Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity at ACEEE. “We are working with communities to craft a pathway to safer, more comfortable, and less expensive housing, while centering racial equity, community priorities, and local job creation.”
Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity will center environmental justice and racial equity to address the compounding crises of housing affordability, energy insecurity, and climate change. Energy insecurity is particularly acute in Native American, Black, and Hispanic households, which pay an average of between 20% and 45% more of their incomes on energy bills than white households but are among the least likely to receive energy upgrades.
“Our transition to an energy-efficient economy must include underinvested communities that have been most impacted by our history of environmental injustice,” said Meishka Mitchell, president and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative. “Emerald Cities Collaborative is pleased to lend its expertise in economic inclusion, workforce development, labor standards, and community benefit agreements to this valuable initiative.”
ACEEE’s Jennifer Amann, Carolin Tolentino, and Paul Mooney will be at BPA’s National Home Performance Conference April 17-20 in Seattle and are eager to talk with attendees about the opportunity to engage with R2E2 and apply to Buildings UP. Jennifer Amann will also be presenting a session on other funding opportunities, The Boom in HP Resources: Overview of Funding Opportunities & How to Combine for Greatest Impact.
Applications to Buildings UP opened on February 18 and will remain open through July 18. Attendance at the webinars or related events is not required to submit an application to Buildings UP, and attendance will not influence the scoring of prize submissions. For questions about the Buildings Upgrade Prize, contact buildingsUP@nrel.gov. For questions about the webinar series, contact R2E2@aceee.org.
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