Energy CLASS Prize Overview
The Energy CLASS (Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools) Prize supports local education agencies, helping establish and train energy managers to identify, plan, and implement efficiency and health upgrades in schools.
Energy costs for public schools in K-12 school districts total $8 billion annually. More than just utility bills, poorly maintained critical building systems—such as HVAC systems—can contribute to respiratory issues and promote the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. And, while schools have significant energy savings and efficiency opportunities, aging buildings are often subject to budgetary challenges for cash-strapped and understaffed school districts.
The U.S. Department of Energy State and Community Energy Program Office (SCEP) is announcing the Renew America’s Schools grant, offering $80 million to help schools across the country implement infrastructure upgrades that will lower utility costs, improve indoor environmental quality, and reduce carbon emissions. This is part of an overall $500 million program designed to provide competitive grants to make energy efficiency improvements and alternative fueled vehicle upgrades at public schools.
Understanding that many school districts lack the bandwidth or knowledge to finance, build, and sustain energy upgrades, SCEP is also launching the Energy CLASS Prize to build institutional knowledge and personnel capacity at local educational agencies (LEAs). Energy managers, or Champions, trained under this Prize will learn to identify, plan, and implement critical upgrades in school facilities, so that students can learn in comfortable and healthy classrooms.
About the Energy CLASS Prize
The Energy CLASS Prize is designed to provide training and cash prizes to school district administration and facilities staff to make energy management a sustainable feature of their communities while positioning them to make meaningful infrastructure improvements that will reduce utility costs, improve indoor air quality, and improve learning environments long-term. A total of $4.5 million in awards is available, including $3.75 million in cash prizes for selected LEAs to fund energy management professionals-in-training and an additional $750,000 in technical assistance from Energy CLASS Training Network partners. The Energy CLASS Training Network includes professional training organizations and energy efficiency experts who will provide training and support to Energy CLASS participants.
The Energy CLASS Prize is made up of two phases:
Phase 1 — Application
LEAs will submit their statement of need and letters of support, demonstrate their commitment to making building energy upgrades, and identify staff to participate in the program. Up to 25 LEAs will each receive $100,000 in cash prizes to support participation in training over a 12-month period during Phase 2.
Phase 2 — Skills Development and Coaching
Phase 1 participants will be invited to take part in 80–160 hours of online educational courses delivered by training professionals. In addition to DOE-funded trainings, teams will receive one-on-one support and coaching pertaining to building upgrades associated with the specific LEA district.
At the conclusion of Phase 2, participants will submit a progress report on actions identified or taken and a plan for future building upgrades for a chance to win a $50,000 bonus prize.
- Prize Announcement: October 2022
- Phase One Application opens: November 2022
- Phase One Application concludes: February 2023
- Phase Two Training opens: May 2023 (anticipated)
- Phase Two Training concludes: June 2024 (anticipated)
All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements. Sign up for updates on our HeroX challenge page.
Who is Eligible to Compete?
Any U.S. local educational agency is invited to participate. Priority will be given to eligible entities that demonstrate significant renovation, repair, and improvement funding needs. More information can be found in the official rules document.
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