By advancing equity across the Federal Government, we can create opportunities for the improvement of communities that have been historically underserved, which benefits everyone.
EERE prioritizes energy equity and environmental justice (EEEJ) to improve the health, safety, and energy resilience of communities that have been disproportionately affected by fossil fuels, by ensuring all Americans have access to affordable clean energy. EERE aligns its efforts with the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity and the Justice40 Initiative, which directs 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments to flow to disadvantaged communities.
To build a more equitable clean energy system, EERE is:
- Broadening engagement with community-based organizations, tribal nations, states, local governments, and minority-serving institutions through targeted requests for information, roundtables, and workshop with historically underserved communities
- Collecting more data on demographics and disciplines in our projects to better track progress toward our EEEJ goals
- Expanding funding opportunities to enable more diverse participants
- Developing equity-focused research areas to institutionalize more well-rounded participation in clean energy
EERE is rolling out projects to better address the energy-efficiency and renewable energy needs of disadvantaged communities.
Energy equity recognizes that disadvantaged communities have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution, underinvestment in clean energy infrastructure, and lack of access to energy efficient housing and transportation.
Environmental justice is the recognition and remediation of the disproportionally high and adverse human health or environmental effects on underserved communities.
Why EERE Is Focusing on Energy Equity and Environmental Justice
Historically, the benefits of EERE’s research have not reached all Americans, often leaving out Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities. These inequities have resulted in higher rates of pollution, health impacts, and a higher energy burden in these communities relative to white, higher-income communities.
While DOE has helped bring clean energy technologies to market, these technologies have not been distributed equally across the United States. For example:
- Since 2006, the top 20% income earners in the United States received 90% of electric vehicle income credits
- Majority-Black communities install 69% less rooftop solar than other neighborhoods that have the same income level
- Less than half of U.S. community solar projects include low-income households.
EERE has implemented programs and initiatives to address these energy inequities across the nation, and has a growing number funding opportunities and research and development projects focused on advancing energy equity and environmental justice.
Equity and Environmental Justice Opportunities in Clean Energy
Equity-Focused Clean Energy Programs
- The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize fosters grassroots innovation, community-centric networks, and ground-up solutions to accelerate climate and clean energy technology advancement in disadvantaged communities.
- The EcoCAR Electric Vehicle Challenge enables university students to participate in hands-on automotive research and development using industry standards and practices. Teams develop plans to support in-team diversity and increase consideration for the mobility needs of a wider audience.
- Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project provides technical assistance opportunities for remote, island, and islanded communities seeking to transform their energy systems through planning and implementation that address their specific challenges.