Funding Opportunity: DOE’s New “Renew America’s Schools” Grant Program

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a new funding opportunity for K-12 public schools to upgrade infrastructure in their facilities, including for energy and HVAC improvements. The Renew America’s Schools grant program plans to make awards between $500,000 and $15,000,000 available to schools that qualify as rural and/or high poverty. DOE anticipates making approximately 20-100 awards totaling up to $80,000,000. 

Full details and requirements for the concept paper and full application are available here:

The deadline for Concept Papers is January 26, 2023; full applications are due April 21, 2023. 

The Department of Energy will give priority to applicant concept papers that demonstrate the following through their projects:

  • Facility/Facilities demonstrate a facility needs assessment;
  • Facility/Facilities serve a community considered high-need;
  • Applicant demonstrates a large discrepancy between facility need and fiscal capacity;
  • Proposed energy improvements will likely result in significant energy cost savings;
  • Proposed energy improvements will likely result in health and safety improvements;
  • Project represents an innovation and scalability of technology packages partnership structures and/or financing options; and
  • Applicant articulates a feasible plan to execute and maintain improvements

Concept Papers must include the following information:

SectionPage LimitDescription
Cover Page 1 page maximum The cover page should include the project title, the specific announcement Topic Area being addressed, both the technical and business points of contact, names of all team member organizations, the project address location(s) of proposed energy improvements, and any statements regarding confidentiality. 
Project Description 2 pages maximum Applicants are required to provide a summary of the energy improvements and intended achievements for the particular topic area selected (High-Impact Energy Efficiency and Health Improvements or Innovative Energy Technology Packages). This should include:
– Identification of proposed project location(s)
– Proposed energy improvements
– Cost estimate for proposed energy improvements
– The potential energy efficiency, health, and/or safety benefits from the proposed energy improvements 
– Innovation and scalability of technology packages partnership structures and/or financing options
– Plan to execute and maintain improvements 
Statements of Need NA Community Need:
– The applicant should include a short needs summary for the community served by the school facility for each proposed project location(s).
– DOE has developed the “Energy Justice Mapping Tool for Schools” (https://energyjustice-schools.egs.anl.gov) to help applicants derive relevant needs information on a school-by-school basis. Applicants must use this tool to generate a report for each facility of the proposed project. All reports should be included with the concept paper submission as a standalone attachment.
Facility Needs Assessment:
– The applicant should include a short summary for each school in the proposal that describes the facility needs assessment based on the current condition of the school facility that will receive the energy improvements using one of the four options described on the DOE’s Schools Needs and Benefits Assessment Resources page: https://www.energy.gov/clean-energy-infrastructure/school-needs-and-benefits-assessment-resources

HVAC Measures Eligible for Funding that Earn Points in the Healthy Green Schools & Colleges Standard 

  • Replacing outdated HVAC equipment with high efficiency boilers, chillers, furnaces, rooftop heat pumps, or rooftop AC units, increasing energy efficiency
  • Adding demand control ventilation sensors to reduce energy use by automatically reducing ventilation intensity during off-peak hours 
  • Adding economizers to air handlers to maximize use of outside air for cooling 
  • Installing variable-speed drives (VSD) on chilled water loops, which can cut a chiller’s annual energy use by up to 30 percent.
  • Adding variable frequency drives (VFD) to air handler supply fans or cooling tower fans, to reduce peak energy use

Questions on the Department of Energy Renew America’s Schools Grant Program and this Funding Opportunity Announcement can be directed to schoolsfoa@doe.gov.