Buildings UP - The Buildings Upgrade Prize

Buildings UP

The Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) provides more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance to support the transformation of existing U.S. buildings into more energy-efficient and clean energy-ready homes, commercial spaces, and communities.

Upgrading existing buildings to efficiently run on clean energy will help address climate change.  

Building upgrades may include transitioning to efficient electric equipment, including heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, and improving building efficiency through measures such as insulation and air sealing. Together, efforts will help reduce carbon emissions and energy costs, while improving indoor air quality and occupant comfort.

Buildings UP aims to build capacity to rapidly and equitably transform U.S. buildings. Teams will submit innovative concepts to leverage the billions of dollars available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), utility rebate programs, and many other funding sources, capitalizing on this once-in-a-generation opportunity to equitably transform a wide variety of buildings across diverse geographies. As teams progress through the prize, they will receive cash prizes and technical assistance to help bring their ideas to life. 

Watch the video Introducing the Buildings Upgrade Prize and follow Buildings UP on HeroX.com for all prize-related updates.

Phase 1 Winners Have Been Announced!

A total of 45 teams were announced as Buildings UP Phase 1 winners who will advance to Phase 2 with up to $400,000 each in cash prizes and extensive technical assistance. The Phase 1 winners are listed below for both the Equity-Centered Pathway and the Open Innovation Pathway. Read the full announcement for more information and detail about the Phase 1 winners.

Equity-Centered Pathway Phase 1 Winners

The following Equity-Centered Pathway Buildings UP Phase 1 winners will each receive $400,000 in cash prizes, as well as technical assistance.

  • Appalachian Voices (Boone, North Carolina): Community-driven planning and technology deployment coupled with redevelopment, capacity-building, climate adaption and resilience models for historic coal communities in rural Appalachia.
  • Blueprint 15 Inc. (Syracuse, New York): Transform the underserved 15th Ward neighborhood of Syracuse through workforce development and public housing upgrades.
  • Centennial Parkside CDC (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): Resident-led initiative to rejuvenate the East Parkside neighborhood in Philadelphia through upgrading rowhomes.
  • City of Everett/La Comunidad Inc. (Everett, Massachusetts) Leverage trusted CBOs capacity building outreach networks to overcome linguistic and cultural barriers to electrification adoption in frontline communities.
  • City of Las Cruces/Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (Las Cruces, New Mexico): Intentional community engagement to address systemic barriers resulting in affordable and resilient buildings in Las Cruces.
  • City of Olympia/Olympia Community Solar (Olympia, Washington): Provide streamlined technical support and guidance to weatherize, electrify, and improve resilience of affordable housing within the City of Olympia.
  • City of San Luis Obispo/Five Cities Diversity Coalition (San Luis Obispo, California): Identify how mobile home electrification can be cost-effective and convene stakeholders in designing a mobile home retrofit service.
  • CLEAResult Consulting Inc. (Austin, Texas): Comprehensive retrofits with workforce development and data analytics to enable SEM and demand response services and drive program growth.
  • Climate + Energy Project (Hutchinson, Kansas): Community-driven pathways to upgrading homes, improving home energy efficiency, reducing energy burden, and improving health.
  • Community Housing Partners Corp. (Christiansburg, Virginia): Community-informed prioritized decarbonization achieved through robust partnerships and holistic scoping of projects in rural communities.
  • Community Power/Cooperative Energy Futures (Minneapolis, Minnesota): Upgrade 2,000-plus Minnesota homes by creating access to upfront capital, data integration, and providing community-trusted support through a Navigator position.
  • County of Ventura/Energy Council (Ventura, California): Integrated building and transportation efficiency and electrification coupled with technical and financial assistance to affordable multifamily properties across 12 counties in California.
  • Ecolibrium3 (Duluth, Minnesota): Equitable electrification via a holistic support-centric approach including enhanced audits, guided support systems, and expanded training.
  • Energy Smart Colorado Inc. (Frisco, Colorado): Energy Smart Colorado will upgrade energy efficiency and electrify 750 rural, underserved homes across 18 Colorado counties.
  • Evanston Development Cooperative/Center for Neighborhood Technology (Evanston, Illinois): Renovate affordable housing for climate resiliency, with focus on Black and Latin(x) neighborhoods.
  • Green the Church (Oakland, California): Deliver equitable, replicable decarbonization at community portfolio scale by transforming Black Faith Community Buildings in EJ areas.
  • Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Inc. (Baltimore, Maryland): Expand existing energy-efficiency program to include electrification retrofits to better serve LMI housing in the East Baltimore community targeting single mothers, seniors, and African-American residents.
  • Groundswell Inc. (Washington, DC): Scale rural low-moderate-income (LMI) energy-efficiency upgrades by stacking incentives and financing programs to increase accessibility to funds and housing equity.
  • Hijra House Association/Community Connections Inc. (Pass Christian, Mississippi): JustEnergy will install efficient appliances, employ skilled and diverse workers, and reduce building stock emissions.
  • Hope Village Revitalization (Detroit, Michigan): Grassroots, community development organization-focused approach to retrofitting and building with heat pump technologies in the cities of Detroit and Highland Park.
  • Imani Works Inc./Affordable Community Energy Services Co. (Chicago, Illinois): Leverage hybrid financing to address significant challenges related to energy efficiency, water conservation, and solar retrofit projects in the south and west sides of Chicago.
  • IMPACT Community Action (Columbus, Ohio): Create the first African-American net zero neighborhood in American Addition, one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in Columbus, Ohio, and deliver deep energy savings (> 30%) to LMI families in the area. 
  • Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government (Louisville, Kentucky): Build on Louisville's C-LEAP successes to eliminate severe energy burden in LMI affordable housing. and provide supplemental support to other focus areas (benchmarking, financing, and workforce). 
  • Metropolitan Energy Center (Kansas City, Missouri): Energy-efficiency upgrades for library systems while also creating an experiential learning curriculum for the public demonstrating the reach and cultural impacts libraries have on their communities.
  • New North Carolina Project/Upper Room Outreach International (Concord, North Carolina): Leverage grassroots engagement strategies and deep community trust to electrify and improve health and safety of homes and small commercial buildings in two counties in North Carolina.
  • New Sun Rising/Hazelwood Initiative Inc. (Millvale, Pennsylvania): Multifaceted approach to address the unique challenges of aging, energy-inefficient housing stock, economic disparities, and environmental inequalities in the Pittsburgh region.
  • passivhausMAINE (Freeport, Maine): By 2028, retrofitMAINE will upgrade 100 low-income homes in Freeport and Lewiston, bolstering bundled funding strategies and workforce development programs.
  • Red Feather Development Group (Flagstaff, Arizona): Building upgrades in the Four Corners region of the Navajo Nation with a focus on woodstove heating replacements to improve health and safety outcomes.
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Rosebud, South Dakota): Deep energy retrofits in tribally owned buildings by employing worker development, business creation, clean energy lending, and other economic activities supported by RESCo, the newly established tribal utility company.
  • Rural People's Voice (Winthrop, Washington): Build energy-efficient homes and economic opportunity while writing a new climate narrative in rural, working-class Washington State.
  • San Francisco Department of the Environment (San Francisco, California): Upgrade 200 homes in 200 days with heat pump water heaters (HPWH) and efficiency measures for San Francisco disadvantaged communities. As the San Francisco Bay Area has mandated the phase-out on sales of natural gas water heaters by 2027, the initiative will ensure the HPWH roll-out is conducted equitably and is affordable for the most marginalized communities.
  • Shifted Energy Inc. (Honolulu, Hawaii): Tailor whole-home energy and enablement solutions in native and frontline communities, bringing resilience and agency for energy independence.
  • Slipstream Group Inc. (Madison, Wisconsin): Design and launch the Cream City Climate Challenge to inspire weatherization and electrification and improve health and safety outcomes for Milwaukee's historically disadvantaged communities.
  • Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (Moab, Utah): Leverage partnerships in Grand County, Utah, to offer equity-centered navigation for weatherizing and electrifying nonprofits, governments, and homes.
  • The Alaska Center (Fairbanks, Alaska): Increase access to affordable energy upgrades for low-income housing and nonprofits in Alaska on the frontline of climate change.
  • Together New Orleans Sponsoring Committee/Together New Orleans/St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church (New Orleans, Louisiana): Accelerate energy-efficiency retrofits for underserved nonprofit buildings serving as solar-powered resilience hubs scalable throughout the Gulf South.
  • TRC/Unite Oregon (Portland, Oregon): System Navigators will connect low-income multifamily residents/owners in the most marginalized communities across Oregon to health and energy resources, as well as streamline cross-program participation in affordable multifamily upgrades.
  • Urban Green Council (New York, New York): Urban Green Council and partners will catalyze heat pump water heater conversions in New York City’s Justice40 census tracts.
  • West Anniston Foundation (Anniston, Alabama): Expand an existing healthy homes program to provide building assessments, heat pump installations, and other upgrades to 150 LMI households in an environmental justice community.

Open Innovation Pathway Phase 1 Winners

The following Open Innovation Pathway Buildings UP Phase 1 winners will each receive $200,000 in cash prizes, as well as technical assistance.

  • College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine): Reduce cost-burdens to retrofit work for some of the nation’s oldest heating oil buildings in Maine's rural coastal island communities. 
    • College of the Atlantic will receive a $200,000 cash award (100% of the total team award).
  • Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (Reston, Virginia): Leverage the immersive power of faith-based communities' desire to reduce energy use and increase resiliency by performing energy-efficiency upgrades in faith buildings.
  • Peak Harvest Service, LLC (Venice, Florida): Leverage existing in-home deliveries via software integrations to capture detailed information about a home's candidacy for heat pump water heaters.
  • Native Village of Kotzebue (Kotzebue, Alaska): Comprehensive outreach and strategy development for energy-efficiency/electrification projects and local workforce development in native Alaskan city 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
  • The U.S. Green Building Council (Washington, DC): Accelerate the adoption of electric HVAC technologies, energy efficiency, resiliency and improved air quality in K-12 schools with the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts and funding braiding for financing.
  • Zero Home Corporation (Golden, Colorado): Bring innovative technology and financing together to deliver simple and affordable home electrification to rural and LMI populations.

Application Support Prize

The Application Support Prize enabled applicants who might not otherwise have the staff capacity, time, or expertise to submit a full Phase 1 submission. A total of 50 Application Support Prizes of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance have been awarded across three rounds.

The primary competitors for the Application Support Prize were first-time applicants for BTO funding and community-based organizations (CBOs) representing or serving areas with equity-eligible buildings. The Application Support Prize winners are: 

Round 1

  • Wesley Living, Mississippi
  • City of Moab, Utah 
  • SEEED Inc., Tennessee
  • West Anniston Foundation, Alabama
  • Destination Transformation - DT's Consultants, Alabama
  • RiseBoro Community Partnership, New York
  • IMPACT Community Action, Ohio
  • Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia
  • City of Newburyport, Massachusetts
  • Clean Energy4All Ohio
  • Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia
  • Community Dreams Foundation Corp., Florida

Round 2

  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Oregon
  • St. Charles Avenue Baptist Church, Louisiana
  • Metropolitan Energy Center, Missouri
  • Earth Forward Group, LLC, Connecticut
  • Lake Street Council, Minnesota
  • Hope Village Revitalization, Michigan
  • Mid-America Regional Council Community Services Corporation, Missouri
  • Town of Raymond, New Hampshire
  • New Sun Rising, Pennsylvania
  • Clinch River Habitat for Humanity, Tennessee
  • Trinity River Community Solar Systems Inc., dba TRCSS, Texas

Round 3

  • LDF-Chippewa Housing Authority, Wisconsin
  • Sabathani Community Center (Sabathani/SCC), Minnesota
  • Green The Church, California
  • Centennial Parkside Community Development Corporation, Pennsylvania
  • passivhausMAINE, Maine
  • green | spaces, Tennessee
  • Louisiana Homebuyer Education Collaborative, Louisiana
  • New North Caroline Project, North Carolina
  • Cherry Hill Strong, Maryland
  • A.M.E. Sixth District Church Georgia, Georgia
  • Associacion de Residentes de La Margarita Inc., Puerto Rico
  • One Earth Collective, Illinois
  • 2C Mississippi, Mississippi
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Queens CDC Inc., New York
  • We Want Green Too, Michigan
  • Rise UP Reach Out Inc., Florida
  • Community Power, Minnesota
  • Blueprint 15 Inc., New York
  • Hope Enterprise Corporation, Mississippi
  • First Alliance Consulting LLC, Virginia
  • Green Built Alliance, North Carolina
  • She Built This City, North Carolina
  • Sun-I LLC, Mississippi
  • LIFT JAX Inc., Florida
  • Tampa Bay Community Development Corp d/b/a Suncoast Housing Connections, Florida
  • The Climate + Energy Project, Kansas
  • Renewable Ambassador, Nevada