Federal Grant Program for Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Opening Soon
The U.S. Department of Energy will provide $50 million in grants for energy efficiency improvements to buildings run by charitable nonprofits. The program is called the Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot for Nonprofits and was created as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that passed last November. The pilot’s goals are to help nonprofit organizations reduce carbon emissions and decrease utility costs, freeing up resources to serve their missions.
The money will be available in the form of competitive grants to cover the materials costs of energy efficient roofs, windows, doors, and lighting and HVAC systems. The DOE intends to judge the applications based on an organization’s financial need and an efficiency measure’s potential energy savings and cost effectiveness. Applicants should also prepare a plan for evaluation, measurement, and verification of the energy savings.
Nonprofit organizations such as houses of worship, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, community centers, animal shelters, art institutions, and healthcare clinics should develop energy efficiency plans for their buildings now. The program is still under development and is not yet accepting applications. It is expected to be popular and highly competitive. The program will award grants until the funds are used up.
To best prepare for the application opening, a nonprofit organization should consult with an energy professional to evaluate the most cost effective energy upgrades for their building. An energy audit or decarbonization plan should include energy conservation measures with estimated construction costs and energy savings. The estimated construction costs should be broken out between material and labor costs. A plan for evaluating, measuring, and verifying the energy savings should also be developed.
Initial program information from the DOE highlights the double benefit of energy efficiency for nonprofit organizations; freeing up money for mission related expenses and improving the health and wellness of the people they serve. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute reports that energy costs are the second-highest operating expense for many nonprofits. Increasing energy efficiency lets an organization direct more of its limited resources towards its mission. Replacing old fossil-fuel-burning equipment with cleaner units, or even better with electric heat pumps, also reduces air pollution. Many nonprofits focus on serving children, the elderly, people with existing medical conditions, and communities of color. These are the groups most vulnerable to illnesses that can be caused or exacerbated by poor air quality.
Interested parties can learn more and subscribe to updates about the Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot Program for Nonprofits at the DOE’s website: