American-Made Challenges


Buildings Upgrade Prize

Supports actionable and scalable solutions to advance energy efficiency and efficient electrification upgrades in existing U.S. buildings.

This challenge is closed

Judging Closed

This challenge is closed

Upcoming Webinars & Recordings


Read the full Buildings UP rules in English or Spanish

Upgrading existing buildings to efficiently run on clean energy will help address climate change.  Building upgrades may include transitioning to efficient electric equipment, including heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, and improving building efficiency through measures such as insulation and air sealing. Together, efforts will help reduce carbon emissions and energy costs, while improving indoor air quality and occupant comfort.

Developed by the U.S. Department of Energy Building Technologies Office (BTO), Buildings UP aims to build capacity to rapidly and equitably transform U.S. buildings. Teams will submit innovative concepts to leverage the billions of dollars available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), utility rebate programs, and many other funding sources, capitalizing on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to equitably transform a wide variety of buildings across diverse geographies. As teams progress through the prize, they will receive cash prizes and technical assistance to help bring their ideas to life. 


All Phase 1 Webinars have occurred. Descriptions as well links to recordings of the webinars can be found on the Upcoming Webinars and Recordings Tab. 

Prize Structure 

Phase 1: Concept

Teams may apply to one of two pathways: Equity-Centered Innovation or Open Innovation. 

Equity-Centered Innovation Pathway 

Teams will propose a concept to deliver scalable and replicable upgrades to buildings in disadvantaged communities, low- and moderate-income households, and underserved commercial, nonprofit, and public buildings. Phase 1 Equity-Centered Innovation winners will each receive a $400,000 cash prize.

Open Innovation Pathway

Teams will propose a concept for replicable and scalable solutions that addresses a geographic area or building type. Phase 1 Open Innovation winners will each receive a $200,000 cash prize.

Winners of both pathways will be eligible to advance to Phase 2 and access technical assistance. 

Application Support Prize

Up to 50 winning teams will be awarded $5,000 and up to 10 hours of technical support through the Application Support Prize. Applicants are intended to be those who might not otherwise have the staff capacity, time, or expertise to submit a full Phase 1 submission. The primary competitors for the Application Support Prize are first-time applicants for BTO funding and community-based organizations (CBOs) representing or serving areas with equity-eligible buildings. Application Support Prize submissions will be reviewed and awarded monthly from February through May 2023, until funds are expended.


Subsequent phases are planned to offer similar prizes, subject to future funding.


Who Is Eligible To Compete? 

The competition is open to community-based organizations, local governments, tribes, building owners, utilities, nonprofit organizations, energy efficiency program implementers, and other organizations. Multi-stakeholder teams are encouraged to apply. Application support is available for new and under-resourced teams. More information can be found in the official rules document (English / Spanish). 



(see detailed timeline for exact times and dates)

  • January 18, 2023: Prize Announcement
  • January 18, 2023: Application Support Prize Opens
  • February 18, 2023: Phase 1 Opens
  • March–May 2023, Application Support Prize Winners Selected Until Funds Are Expended
  • July 18, 2023: Phase 1 Concludes
  • September 2023: Phase 1 Winner Announcement
  • October 2023: Phase 2 Opens


Please review the official rules document (English / Spanish). for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at 



Challenge Updates

Buildings UP Phase 1 Winner Announcement Anticipated in October

Sept. 22, 2023, 1:58 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

Thank you to all of the Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) applicants for submitting your initiatives to support the transformation of existing U.S. buildings into more energy-efficient and clean energy-ready homes, commercial spaces, and communities. 

Phase 1 winners are anticipated to be announced in October. We will post a list of the winners to this HeroX page and also notify all applicants via email once the announcement is made.

Thank you all very much for your patience, and we look forward to the next steps of this groundbreaking prize!


Deadline Alert: Buildings UP Applications Due Today!

July 18, 2023, 7 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

Buildings Upgrade Prize applications are due today by 5 p.m. ET!

  • View the Official Rules before submitting to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria and understand the requirements of the submission materials. 
  • View Buildings UP Quick Start Guide
  • If you have any questions, contact the prize administrators at .

Don't miss you chance to compete for your share of $22M+ in cash prizes and technical assistance to support actionable and scalable solutions that advance energy efficiency and efficient electrification upgrades in existing U.S. buildings. 

Submit your application before 5 p.m. ET. 

Reminder! Buildings UP Submission Deadline July 18

July 17, 2023, 7:36 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

The Buildings Upgrade Prize Submission deadline for both the Open Innovation and Equity-Centered Pathways is less than one week away!

All Phase 1 submission are due Tuesday, July 18 by 5 p.m. ET. 

As a reminder, Phase 1 teams should address the following in their submissions: 

  • Eligibility information (not public)
  • Team information (partially public) 
  • Concept plan narratives (not public)
  • Summary slide (public) 
  • Video pitch (optional; public)
  • Letters of support (see rules to determine if required for your submission; not public) 

We highly encourage submitting before the deadline to avoid any technical difficulties. Anyone interested is encouraged to apply. Be sure to view the Official Rules  and the Buildings UP Quick Start Guide before submitting to ensure you meet all the eligibility criteria and understand the requirements of the submission materials. 

If you have any questions about the prize requirements or regarding your specific submission, please contact the prize administrators at .

Final Office Hours Session is Tomorrow!

July 12, 2023, 7:29 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

The last chance for drop-in office hours is this Thursday, July 13th 12-1:30 p.m. ET! This is the final opportunity to have your application questions answered live. Register here to receive the webinar link. 

Can’t make the office hours? The Buildings UP website has a lot of helpful resources as you finalize your application such as: 

If you have questions, you can contact us directly at . Remember, the deadline for submitting an application is Tuesday, July 18th at 5 p.m. ET. We look forward to reviewing your applications! 

Join the Final Office Hours Sessions this Week!

July 10, 2023, 3:29 p.m. PDT by NREL Prize Moderator

There are only two office hours left before the Buildings Upgrade Prize application deadline on July 18! Office hours are an opportunity to ask questions related to previous Buildings UP training webinar topics, the application process, key concepts related to the scoring criteria in the prize application, or any other clarifying questions you may have. Sign up for the July 11 or July 13 office hours today!


Additionally, the Buildings UP website has a lot of helpful resources for teams working on applications such as recordings of past webinars and answers to FAQs. The Buildings UP inbox is also open, and you can email  with any questions. 

Upcoming Webinars & Recordings