American-Made Challenges


Energy CLASS Prize

Building capacity within local educational agencies to identify and implement energy and health improvements in public school facilities.

This challenge is closed

Internal Energy CLASS Prize Virtual Presentation Session #2

This challenge is closed



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 participate 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. 




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


Challenge Updates

Final Reminder: Energy CLASS Prize Submissions are Due TOMORROW by 5 pm ET!

May 16, 2024, 11:38 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

This is your final reminder to upload your submissions to the Energy CLASS Prize tomorrow by 5 p.m. ET! We highly encourage you to submit your application early to avoid technical difficulties, it could take several hours to complete your submission. 

Remember to review the Official Rules to clarify what’s expected of each submission. Don’t miss this opportunity to showcase your achievements and gain recognition along with a $50,000 cash prize. If you have any difficulty with submitting, please reach out to .

Your first virtual presentation will be held next Tuesday, May 21. Please send your slides to the email above by the EOD on Monday, May 20.

We look forward to reading your submission packages!

ATTN: Submissions are Due NEXT WEEK!

May 8, 2024, 10:58 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

The submission deadline for the Energy CLASS Prize is fast approaching. Make sure to hit submit on HeroX before the May 17 deadline at 5 p.m. ET to avoid any last-minute technical difficulties.  

Don’t forget that the first virtual presentation will be held the following week! All presentation dates can be found here. Regardless of your presentation date, please register for both sessions to support your fellow Energy CLASS LEAs. You can find all the registration links on the HeroX timeline.  

For those presenting on May 21 and May 30, please email your slides (five slides max) to by May 20 at 3:00 p.m. ET.  

TWO WEEKS to Your Submission Deadline!

May 3, 2024, 6:18 a.m. PDT by NREL Prize Administrator

All Energy CLASS Prize phase two submissions are due in TWO WEEKS!  

As a reminder, the following items should be submitted through HeroX:  

  • Cover page (to be made public)  
  • Presentation summarizing your team, your plan and progress made, and/or knowledge gained throughout Phase 2 to advance building upgrades within your LEA 
  • Your building upgrade/energy management plan for future upgrades in select school facilities identified during Phase 2.  

Be sure to review the official rules document that outlines what should be included in your cover page, presentation, and planning document.  

We encourage you to upload your completed submission well before the deadline to avoid potential delays that may arise due to technical difficulties. Submissions will not be accepted after 5 p.m. ET on May 17, 2024

If you have questions, please reach out to We are looking forward to reading your submissions! 

Phase 2 Rules Modification #2 Posted

Feb. 16, 2024, 2:26 p.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

The official rules for the Energy CLASS Prize have been modified, including clarifications around the Phase 2 submission package requirements for the ‘Presentation’ and the ‘Planning Document’ as well as clarifying for the criteria. Please refer to the modifications by page below.

  • Page 18: Added clarifying language to the ‘Presentation’ and ‘Planning Document’ sections.
  • Page 19: Added clarifying language ‘Criterion 1’ and removed energy audit and benchmarking requirements.  
  • Page 19: Added clarifying language to ‘Criterion 2’ and added key elements to be included in competitor’s submitted plan.
  • Page 19-20: Added clarifying language to ‘Criterion 3’ and removed language around indoor air quality and energy efficiency.

We look forward to your Phase 2 submissions (tentative Phase 2 submission deadline is May 17, 2024 at 5 p.m. ET)!

Phase 2 Rules Modification #1 Posted

Sept. 1, 2023, 12:02 p.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The official rules for the Energy CLASS Prize have been modified, including clarifications around the Phase 2 submission package requirements for the ‘Presentation’ and the ‘Planning Document’ as well as clarifying language around eligibility considerations, HeroX waiver, and DOE risk review.  Please refer to the modifications by page below.

  • Page 8: Added clarifying language around eligibility considerations.
  • Pages 9, 22: Updated waiver statement language.
  • Page 18: Added language to increase the number of allowable slides under “Presentation” section.
  • Page 18: Added clarifying language to the “Planning Document” section.
  • Page 26: Added language addressing DOE risk review.

We look forward to your Phase 2 submissions (tentative Phase 2 submission deadline is May 17, 2024)!