American-Made Challenges



Catalyze the development of building envelope retrofit solutions that make retrofits easier, faster, safer and more accessible for workers.
$5 Million Dollars in total Cash Awards and Network Support

Challenge Overview

Prize Overview

As part of the American-Made Challenges series, the Envelope Retrofit Opportunities for Building Optimization Technologies (E-ROBOT) Prize unites the world’s best-in-class research base with the unparalleled entrepreneurial support system of the American-Made Network. Consisting of pioneering makerspaces, dozens of energy incubators, universities, and 17 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, the Network is primed to create a sweeping portfolio of innovations to demonstrate the promise of advanced robotics for building envelope retrofits.



Advancements in robotics allow workers to reach places or perform activities that were previously impossible. For example, robots can safely enter small spaces and cavities, such as ductwork, to perform air-sealing or other efficiency activities. Robots can complement and support the existing workforce by creating new employment and business opportunities while also helping to ensure quality and consistency when installing energy efficiency measures.

The overarching goal of E-ROBOT is to catalyze the development of minimally invasive, low-cost, and holistic building envelope retrofit solutions that make retrofits easier, faster, safer, and more accessible for workers. Successful competitors will provide solutions that provide significant advancements in robot technologies that will advance the energy efficiency retrofit industry and develop building envelope retrofit technologies that meet the following criteria:

  • Holistic: The solution must include mapping, retrofit, sensing, and inspection.
  • Low cost: The solution should reduce costs significantly when compared to current state-of-the-art solutions. The target for reduction in costs should be based on a 50% reduction from the baseline costs of a fully implemented solution (not just hardware, software, or labor; the complete fully implemented solution must be considered). If costs are not at the 50% level, there should be a significant energy efficiency gain achieved.
  • Minimally invasive: The solution must not require building occupants to vacate the premises or require envelope teardown or significant envelope damage.
  • Utilizes long-lasting materials: Retrofit is done with safe, nonhazardous, and durable (30+ year lifespan) materials.
  • Completes time-efficient, high-quality installations: The results of the retrofit must meet common industry quality standards and be completed in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Provides opportunities to workers: The solution enables a net positive gain in terms of the workforce by bringing high tech jobs to the industry, improving worker safety, enabling workers to be more efficient with their time, improving envelope accessibility for workers, and/or opening up new business opportunities or markets.

The E-ROBOT Prize provides a total of $5 million in funding, including $4 million in cash prizes for competitors and an additional $1 million in awards and support to network partners. 

Through this prize, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will stimulate technological innovation, create new opportunities for the buildings and construction workforce, reduce building retrofit costs, create a safer and faster retrofit process, ensure consistent, high-quality installations, enhance construction retrofit productivity, and improve overall energy savings of the built environment.


Prize Structure

The E-ROBOT Prize is made up of two phases that will fast-track efforts to identify, develop, and validate disruptive solutions to meet building industry needs. Each phase will include a contest period when participants will work to rapidly advance their solutions. DOE invites anyone, individually or as a team, to compete to transform a conceptual solution into product reality.


Challenge Guidelines

Please review the official rules  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



Updates 17

Challenge Updates

Webinar Recording and Slide Now Available

Sept. 16, 2021, 4:14 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Thank you to everyone who attended today's Phase 2 rules webinar! If you missed the presentation, you can watch the recording or view the slides here:  


As always, if you have any questions please don't hesitate to reach out to us at 



Phase 2 Webinar Reminder: Today at 3 p.m. ET

Sept. 16, 2021, 7:26 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Please join us for the E-ROBOT Phase 2 Webinar today at 3 p.m. ET. If you have not yet signed-up and received your access link, you can still register for the Phase 2 Rules Webinar here. 

At the webinar, we will cover: 

  • Phase 2 Overview
  • Phase 2 Technology Approach
  • Phase 2 Submission Elements
  • Demo Day and Winner Selection Process
  • Power Connector Support
  • Q&A

We look forward to seeing you there! 


Congratulations to the E-ROBOT Prize Finalists!

Aug. 19, 2021, 7:05 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

The 10 teams listed below are moving on to the final phase, each taking home $200,000 in cash prizes, along with a chance to win part of the $2 million Phase 2 prize pool. 

All Phase 1 participants will receive judges’ comments within the next two weeks. For those teams selected to move onto Phase 2, please check your email over the next few weeks for next steps and register for the Phase 2 Rules Webinar on Sept. 16, 2021, at 3 p.m. ET. 

For Phase 1 participants not selected as finalists, there will be future opportunities to team up with finalists to create a holistic innovation. Stay tuned for more information. 

The E-ROBOT Prize Phase 1 winners stood out from the competition by creating high-impact holistic solutions, addressing on-site benefits for worker health and safety, and designing for technical and commercial viability. 

Congratulations to the following teams: 

Apellix Techstyle Materials: Drone for Applying Multifunctional Control Layers

Jacksonville, Florida

F.G.S.: Revolutionizing Robotic Retrofits

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 

Friendly Robots CompanyThe Mayfly and the Aardvark

Berkeley, California

FunFormRobotic Assisted Exterior Insulated Finish Systems

Westport, Connecticut 

New York University: EASEEbot

New York, New York

Northeastern University: Precise Air-Sealing Robot for Inaccessible Spaces (PARIS)

Boston, Massachusetts 

Roboattic: Robotic System for Air Sealing and Insulating Attics

Berkeley, California

R-STRIPE: The R-STRIPE Deep Energy Retrofit System

Chester, Connecticut

Thermadrone: Drone Thermography for Building Envelope Retrofit

Berkeley, California


Tucson, Arizona

Phase 1 Winner Announcement Update

Aug. 3, 2021, 4:50 p.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

Dear E-ROBOT Competitors, Connectors and Community, 

We wanted to check-in and let you know that we are still finalizing an announcement date for Phase 1 of the E-ROBOT Prize. The E-ROBOT team is excited to announce Phase 1 winners and open Phase 2 of the prize. We hope to have a specific announcement date soon and thank you for your patience! 

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out on the HeroX forum or email us directly at 

Thank you!

E-ROBOT Prize Administration Team


You’re Invited: DOE BTO Tech-to-Market Webinar - July 20 at 3pm ET

July 14, 2021, 8:25 a.m. PDT by NREL Challenge

E-ROBOT competitors and other interested start-up organizations are invited to attend the DOE Building Technologies Office Tech-to-Market Webinar on July 20th at 3:00pm ET. 

At the webinar, attendees will have an opportunity to give BTO feedback about their commercialization programs. Please note that this webinar is not related to the E-ROBOT Prize but may be of interest to E-ROBOT competitors. 

Sign up for the webinar here:

Hope to see you there! 


Forum 21
Teams 414

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, but it’s quick and easy. Just click the “Solve this Challenge” button on this page and follow the instructions to complete your registration. All you need to provide is your name and email address.

If you have a question not answered in the FAQ, we recommend that you post it in the Forum where someone will respond to you. This way, others who may have the same question will be able to see it.

No, if you are a contest winner you are receiving the prize for meeting or exceeding the contest goals. 

Innovation is about making ideas happen. The American-Made Network will accelerate and sustain solar innovation through a diverse and powerful network that includes national laboratories, energy incubators, facilities, and other valuable industry partners from across the U.S. who will engage, connect, mentor, and boost the efforts of Solar Prize competitors.

See who is in the network.

Connectors are the core component of the American-Made Network and are organizations that seek to support the efforts of competitors in the Solar Prize. Use this link to explore the Network to find potential partners and develop relationships.

Power Connector organizations are a core group of Connectors that will work alongside NREL to implement parts of the program and secure additional resources and partners.

Discover who they are and how they will help innovators succeed.

If you encounter an issue when attempting to submit an entry to the challenge, you may need to contact HeroX or the Prize Administrator.

You may try to connect with HeroX using the online form which appears in the bottom right corner of your browser window, it says Leave a Message.

You may also send a message to the Prize Administrator inbox at  

Please allow at least 1 business day for a response.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is the Prize Administrator for the American-Made Challenges. In this capacity, NREL works closely with the U.S. Department of Energy to administer the challenges, maintain the website platform, assist in building the network, and pay prize money to the winning teams.

All of your files are uploaded as part of the submission form, access this by clicking the Begin Entry button.  The submission form contains an upload option for each of the required file entries.  Only PDF files will be accepted for upload.

Competitors competing in American Made Challenges retain their own intellectual property. DOE has no intention of gaining rights to any underlying inventions discussed in your submission materials or that you may develop in furtherance of competing in this prize.