Federal Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Grant Program Update

Background. Thanks to advocacy efforts by OU Advocacy and our partners, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed in November 2021 included $50M to provide energy efficiency upgrades to nonprofit organizations, including Jewish schools, synagogues, and other institutions organized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

How Will it Work? The Department of Energy (DoE) will select 5-15 large umbrella nonprofits – called “Prime Recipients” – to administer the program on their behalf. The DoE will provide a pool of funding to each Prime Recipient. Schools or synagogue seeking to upgrade energy efficiency of their buildings – called “Sub-Recipients” – will submit an application for grant funding to a Prime Recipient of their choice.

Each Prime Recipient will review all the grant applications it receives and score each one in terms of energy saved per dollar spent, financial need of the applicant, and impact on disadvantaged communities. The highest scoring projects will be funded. Projects will be expected to fund at least 20% of their cost from non-government sources (e.g. private fundraising)

What Should I Do Next? Right now, the DoE is still selecting Prime Recipients – you don’t need to file any paperwork yet. DoE is planning to select Prime Recipients by October 2023, and finalize their selection by January 2024.

At that point, Prime Recipients will finalize the application instructions for subrecipients, and you can start applying.

How Can I Prepare? Start identifying which energy efficiency projects you want for your building. Also begin collecting paperwork to demonstrate that your own or long-term lease your building, that you are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and a narrative demonstrating how you serve disadvantaged communities.

It is highly likely that the application process for all Prime Recipients will require an Energy Audit be conducted. You can get a head start on this by finding a local company or utility that will perform an energy audit. This step can be a bit risky – since the Prime Recipients haven’t even been chosen yet, there’s no guarantee your audit will be valid – but it will put you ahead of the game by having an audit and chosen projects ready to go. To be extra safe, you may want to ensure you obtain an ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit, and check that your chosen energy auditor is certified by the Association of Energy Engineers or ASHRAE

How Can I Get Updates? We will continue sending out update emails such as this one. You can sign up for DoE email updates on this program via their webpage: https://www.energy.gov/scep/renew-americas-nonprofits

You can also want sign up for the up for the Renew America’s Nonprofits Teaming List so that the DoE and potential prime sponsors are aware of your organization’s interest in the program.