American-Made Challenges


Buildings Upgrade Prize

Supports actionable and scalable solutions to advance energy efficiency and efficient electrification upgrades in existing U.S. buildings.
Application Support Webinar
Upcoming Webinars & Recordings

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. 

Upcoming Webinars 

See full schedule on the Upcoming Webinars 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

Application Support Submissions Due by March 15 at 5 p.m. ET!

March 14, 2023, 10:10 a.m. PDT by NREL

The second deadline to submit for the Application Support Prize is TOMORROW. To be considered for this round of the Application Support Prize, make sure your complete submission is uploaded to HeroX no later than 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 15!

Buildings UP offers this Application Support Prize during Phase 1 to encourage new and under-resourced applicants to participate in the full prize. Up to 50 teams will each be awarded $5,000  and 10 hours of technical assistance to support their Concept Plan submission development in Phase 1. For more information, see the official rules section 4.2 (/Español). 

You can also learn more about the Application Support Prize during one of our upcoming informational webinars or access previously recorded webinars on YouTube (English/Español).

Unable to make Wednesday’s deadline? Pending remaining awards, you'll have one last chance to apply for Application Support by April 14! 

Buildings Upgrade Prize First Round of Application Support Winners Announced

March 6, 2023, 9 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Congratulations to the Buildings UP Application Support Prize Round 1 winners. The 12 selected teams will each receive a $5,000 cash award and up to 10 hours of technical support. 

  • Wesley Living, Mississippi
  • City of Moab, Utah 
  • SEEED Inc., Tennessee
  • West Anniston Foundation, Alabama
  • Destination Transformation - DT's Consultants, Alabama
  • RiseBoro Community Partnership, New York
  • IMPACT Community Action, Ohio
  • Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia
  • City of Newburyport, Massachusetts
  • Clean Energy4All Ohio
  • Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia
  • Community Dreams Foundation Corp., Florida

Up to 50 Application Support Prizes of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance are available to help new and under-resourced teams complete Phase 1 applications. If your team missed this round, you still have two more chances to apply for the Application Support Prize by the deadlines of March 15 and April 14. Join our partners at Elevate for an upcoming Application Support Prize webinar to learn more about the support prize and ask questions. Previously recorded webinars are also available in English and Spanish

If you were not selected for award, you will be receiving a notification email with feedback on your application this week. If you’d like to revise your application, you are welcome to reapply to either the March 15 or April 14 deadlines.  

If you were selected for award, the Prize Administration team will be reaching out to you with next steps for how to collect your cash prize and get connected to our partners at Elevate for technical assistance. 

You can also prepare for the full Phase 1 submission by visiting the Upcoming Webinars & Recordings tab to register for training webinars hosted by our partners at ACEEE. These webinars will provide information and resources to help you successfully develop your team’s Buildings UP Phase 1 submission. 

Note: Attendance is not required at Buildings UP webinars or related events in order to complete a Phase 1 submission, and attendance will not influence the scoring of your prize submission.

Buildings UP Phase 1 Applications Now Open

Feb. 21, 2023, 1:27 p.m. PST by NREL

Teams interested in applying to the Buildings Upgrade Prize can now access the Phase 1 application via the HeroX platform. 

Before submitting an application be sure to read through the following materials and take advantage of all of the resources available: 

  • Read the official prize rules on HeroX (available in English and Spanish)
  • Register for the upcoming live informational webinar on April 7 at 2 p.m. ET
  • View pre-recorded informational sessions on YouTube
  • See if your question has been answered in the prize FAQs
  • Visit the Selected Federal Funding and Technical Assistance Sources for Building Upgrades Airtable 
    • This new resource provides a high-level, searchable overview of federal resources that can support communities, organizations, and individuals interested in energy-efficient upgrades to their existing building stock.
  • Email us at with any additional questions

Modifications to Application Support Prize and Locally Defined Equity-Eligible Buildings

Feb. 16, 2023, 2:51 p.m. PST by NREL

The official rules for the Buildings Upgrade Prize have been modified, including clarifications around the Application Support Prize. Please refer to the modifications by page below.

  • Page 9: Added clarification that Application Support Prize is intended for community-based organizations (CBOs) or other nonprofits that represent or serve areas with equity-eligible buildings (as defined in Section 3.5). 
  • Page 9: Added detail to Application Support Prize requirements emphasizing that a competitive Phase 1 submission must include the minimum technologies described in Section 2.5.  
  • Page 19: Added non-federally recognized tribal lands to Section 3.5 “Locally defined equity-eligible buildings”. 
  • Page 20: Added clarification that Application Support Prize is intended for community-based organizations (CBOs) or other nonprofits that represent or serve areas with equity-eligible buildings (as defined in Section 3.5).

To see a list of all modifications, refer to page 2 of the Official Rules.

Today: Application Support Submissions Due by 5 p.m. ET!

Feb. 15, 2023, 7:27 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Today is the first of three deadlines to submit for the Application Support bonus prize. If you would like to be considered for the February 15 deadline, please make sure your full submission is uploaded to HeroX no later than 5 p.m. ET today!

As a reminder, Buildings UP is offering an application support prize during Phase 1 to encourage new and under- resourced applicants to participate. Up to 50 teams will each be awarded $5,000 ($250,000 total) and 10 hours of technical assistance (500 hours total) to support their Concept Plan submission development in Phase 1. For more information, see the official rules section 4.2 (English / Español )

Unable to make today’s deadline? We’ll have two additional chances for teams to apply for Application Support - March 15 and April 14! 

Upcoming Webinars & Recordings

Upcoming Webinars & Recordings

Informational Prize Overview Webinars*

Following the main informational webinar, we will be joined by our partners at Elevate to learn more about the Application Support Bonus Prize. 

Application Support Webinars*

Application support overview and Q&A with our partners at Elevate

Training Webinars*

  • 3/13/23, 1:30-3pm ET - Engaging Stakeholders in Building Decarbonization Planning: Introduction to Community, Affordable Housing, Health, Economic Inclusion, and Other Stakeholders: Recording coming soon.
    • Building retrofits and decarbonization require collaboration across a wide range of stakeholders. In this webinar, our speakers will delve into cross-sectoral collaboration and how it can be leveraged to achieve multiple-benefit retrofit initiatives, while keeping racial and economic equity principles at the center. We will introduce community, affordable housing, health, economic inclusion, and other relevant stakeholders, highlight useful case studies of successful cross-sectoral collaborations, and discuss potential next steps in assembling your building decarbonization team.
  • 3/14/23, 12-1pm ET - Introduction to Comprehensive Retrofits and Decarbonization: Recording coming soon.
    • Comprehensive retrofits of existing buildings include equipment replacement and envelope improvements and can reduce building energy use by 20-30%, playing a critical role in addressing climate change and improving the quality of our building stock. This webinar will provide an overview of the many benefits delivered by comprehensive retrofits—ranging from GHG reductions to lower energy bills and improved health, comfort, and safety. Speakers will also cover emerging retrofit technologies, approaches to achieving comprehensive savings, and strategies to scale up retrofits in your community. 
  • 3/21/23, 1pm -2pm ET - Buildings Up Tools Webinar: Recording coming soon. 
  • 4/10/23, 1-2:30 pm ET - Introduction to Community-Driven Planning: Register Here
    • This webinar focuses on how to develop authentic community partnerships and best engage frontline communities in the context of planning for building upgrades. Our speakers will identify ways to build stronger connections between agencies, local governments, community-based organizations, and community members; provide an overview of Community-Driven Climate Resilience Planning's planning principles and frameworks; and familiarize attendees with resources on effective strategies for community engagement. 
  • 4/12/23, 12:30-2pm ET - Accessing Funding Sources for Affordable Housing and Equity-Eligible Commercial Building Retrofits: Register Here
    • A common barrier to scaling building retrofits is lack of sufficient funding. This is true of all building types, but most pronounced in affordable housing and underserved commercial buildings. In this webinar, we will discuss funding in detail: where it comes from (federal, state, philanthropic, utility, private lending), how it flows down to communities, and how different funding sources can work together to finance affordable housing and underserved commercial building retrofits. Presenters will speak to common challenges and barriers, exemplary programs, and specific, timely funding mechanisms to look out for, such as the Inflation Reduction Act and Environmental Justice Community Block Grants.
  • 4/14/23, 1-2:30pm ET - Energy Efficiency Programs 101: Register Here
    • This webinar will cover the fundamentals of energy efficiency programs. Attendees will learn about the various factors and organizational practices that influence the success of pursuing energy efficiency upgrades in affordable housing and underserved commercial buildings. Speakers will present the landscape of programs that teams might consider to advance energy efficiency and clean heating and cooling technologies in their communities, including their benefits and potential negative impacts. Lastly, we will take a deep dive into one or two select program models (e.g., one-stop-shops) to understand what it takes to stand up and implement these initiatives. 
  • 4/26/23, 1:30-2:30pm ET - Considerations for Underserved Commercial Buildings: Register Here
    • This webinar will introduce the concept of underserved, or equity-eligible, commercial buildings. Speakers will discuss reasons why certain commercial buildings are underserved, common barriers to pursuing upgrades in underserved commercial buildings, and potential strategies for overcoming or addressing those barriers. A focus of this webinar will be helping you understand how to craft a locally appropriate definition of “underserved commercial” and choosing which segments of your building stock and/or community (e.g., by location, ownership type, business/entity type, building size, etc.) to target to maximize the benefits of energy efficiency in your community. 
  • 4/28/23, 1-2:30pm ET - Drivers of Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing: Register Here
    • Energy efficiency is particularly important in affordable housing; because one of the benefits of energy efficiency interventions is lower utility bills, these upgrades can go a long way in ensuring rents and costs of living remain affordable to households. This webinar will explore energy costs in the context of total operating expenses in different types of affordable housing, introduce the drivers (or lack thereof) of energy efficiency upgrades, and offer suggestions for overcoming challenges. Attendees will learn how to make the business case for energy efficiency upgrades to affordable housing owners and developers. 
  • 5/10/23, 1:30-3pm ET- Choosing your Building Upgrade Zone: Structural Equity Considerations: Register Here
    • This webinar introduces the concept of energy equity and gives an overview of how disinvestment in communities has contributed to the problem of inefficient, unhealthy, and expensive-to-operate residential and commercial building stock. Our speakers will offer guiding strategies for choosing your building upgrade zone by prioritizing procedural equity, lived experience considerations, and data availability to decide which buildings or segments of communities to focus on when planning for upgrades. Attendees will also be introduced to several data tools that can assist you in choosing residential and commercial buildings to include in your building upgrade zone. 
  • 5/11/23, 12-1:30pm ET - Building Upgrades: An Opportunity for Workforce and Economic Inclusion: Register Here
    • This webinar introduces strategies that will leverage residential and commercial retrofit projects towards realizing workforce diversity and economic inclusion. It will cover why leveraging retrofits for community benefits is important and identify challenges towards employing a diverse workforce and implementing economic inclusion strategies. Speakers will offer guidance on how to develop project requirements that track to workforce diversity and economic inclusion and how to identify partners who can help project teams realize their workforce goals. 

*Attendance is not required at Buildings UP webinars or related events and will not influence the scoring of your submission.