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


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

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)!

Now Announcing Energy CLASS Winners!

May 5, 2023, 11:12 a.m. PDT by National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Congratulations to the 25 local education agencies (LEAs) selected as Phase 1 Winners of the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools Prize (Energy CLASS Prize)! Winning teams will each take home a $100,000 cash prize to help establish, train, and support energy managers – or Champions – in their districts. These Energy Champions will join the Energy CLASS Prize Training Network, a collaborative of Phase 1 Winners and experts in the field of energy management, to develop skills and build capacity for making critical energy upgrades in their LEAs. During Phase 2 of the competition, they will receive tailored training and coaching to pursue projects that will reduce utility costs, improve indoor air quality, and enhance learning environments in their districts' schools. At the end of Phase 2, based on progress and performance, Phase 1 Winners will have an opportunity to earn an additional $50,000. 

Join us in congratulating the Phase 1 Winners!

  • Albemarle County Public Schools, VA 
  • Baltimore City Public Schools, MD
  • Brevard Public Schools, FL
  • Canajoharie Central School District, NY
  • City Schools of Decatur, GA
  • Detroit Public Schools Community District, MI
  • East Cleveland City School District, OH
  • Elkhorn Area School District, WI
  • Environmental Charter Schools, CA
  • Granite School District, UT
  • IDEA Public Schools, TX
  • Irvington Public Schools, NJ
  • Jackson County School District, MS
  • Lansing Public School District, MI
  • Martin County School District, KY
  • Mascoma Valley Regional School District – SAU 62, NH
  • Milwaukee Public Schools, WI
  • Natchez Adams School District, MS
  • Nenana City School District, AK
  • Northeast Washington Educational Service District 101, WA
  • Orange County Public Schools, FL
  • Paducah Public Schools, KY
  • San Antonio Independent School District, TX
  • Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union, VT 
  • Unified School District No. 500, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, KS

All Phase 1 participants will receive reviewers’ comments within the next few weeks. Phase 1 Winners will receive instructions via email for moving into Phase 2. 

You can find more information about the Prize, the winning teams, and the Renew America’s Schools Program on

Read the full press release on

Congratulations, again!

Phase 1 Submissions Due Tomorrow!

Feb. 27, 2023, 8:11 a.m. PST by NREL

All Energy CLASS Prize applications are due TOMORROW Tuesday, Feb. 28 by 5 p.m. ET. 

Before you submit your application, access the official rules, informational webinar recording, prize FAQs, and templates via HeroX. You can also read more about the prize on and reach out with any final questions you have (). 

Don't wait until the last minute! Submissions will not be accepted after 5 p.m. ET.


Submission Deadline Approaching!

Feb. 22, 2023, 8 a.m. PST by NREL

All Energy CLASS Prize applications are due next Tuesday, Feb. 28 by 5 p.m. ET. 

As a reminder, your submission package should include: 

  1. Cover page (to be made public) 
  2. Summary slide (to be made public)  
  3. Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools profiles for the LEA and/or prioritized schools  
  4. Technical narrative (up to 2,500 words using a font that is at least 11 point) 
  5. Photos (optional) 
  6. Required: Letters of commitment or support 
  7. Optional: Logistical questions for applicants. 

Be sure to utilize the resources available to all applicants on HeroX, including the official rules, informational webinar recording, prize FAQs, and templates. 

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.

Reach out with questions () and we look forward to seeing your submissions.

Last Chance To Get Your Energy CLASS Questions Answered - Feb 16 6PM ET

Feb. 10, 2023, 10:09 a.m. PST by NREL Prize Administrator

Do you have questions about what you need to submit for Phase 1, eligibility rules, or upcoming deadlines? Join us for the final Energy CLASS Prize Office Hours on February 16,  6-7 p.m. ET, to ask all of your questions about the $4.5 million prize! 

You are also welcome to check out the prize FAQs or watch the Energy CLASS Prize Informational Webinar for more information. 

Phase 1 submissions are due on February 28, 2023, by 5 p.m. ET.