Author: Emerald Cities Staff    Published: 4/17/2023     Emerald Cities

Hello EJ/CJ Community Members!

In this month’s update you’ll find:

I. Federal Updates: NEW Guidance for Inflation Reduction Act Programs

Department of Energy Releases Guidance and Funding to Support State Home Energy Rebate Programs

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Department of Energy (DOE) will be distributing $8.8 billion in funding for home energy efficiency and electrification projects, aka Home Energy Rebates. DOE will distribute this funding to State Energy Offices (SEOs) and Indian tribes to then make available to households in their respective areas. This funding has not been released to SEOs or Tribes yet, however, they can apply for Early Administrative Funds to get early access to federal funds to hire staff, prepare their workforce, and engage with stakeholders and constituents before they start distributing the Home Energy Rebates. This means that states can apply to receive administrative funding to engage relevant stakeholders including local government, community-based organizations, utilities, and green banks and to develop an approach for integrating rebates with existing federal, state, utility and community-based programs.

Check out the Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund’s What to Know for more information on DOE’s guidance and funding for the Home Energy Rebates. One major highlight of their overview states: “Administering a program like this takes infrastructure and time to ensure that the rebate programs are done well. Getting funding early can support states in having the time to build and equitably distribute the rebate programs. It provides more time for input and dedicated capacity to plan and execute. The plan is to have these rebates available to households in late 2023, so there is a lot to do in a short amount of time.”

If your or a community based organization you know is working on home retrofits for energy efficiency and electrification – now is a great time to either start building a relationship with your state energy office if you haven’t engaged with them before or to deepen an existing relationship and work with them on their application for this early administrative funding. To find out more about your state energy office, click here.

The Environmental Protection Agency Releases Program Guidance for the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program

The following information is provided by the Environmental Protection Network (EPN):

We’d like to share with you a synopsis of the current EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program, timeline, and actions you can take. Check out EPA’s website for all official information, webinars, application templates, and more.

>>About the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG)

The Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) is a $5B funding program administered by the U.S. EPA to support states, municipalities, tribes, air pollution control agencies, and the organizations they collaborate with to plan and implement climate action plans and greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Each state (including Puerto Rico and D.C.) has $3M allocated for climate planning efforts, and each of the 67 most populous Metro Areas have $1M allocated. These formula funds are ready to be released this summer.

>> Here’s the big picture

In order for states and the 67 Metro Areas to unlock any formula planning funds or competitive implementation funds, each must:

  1. submit a Notice of Intent to Participate (NOIP) – states by March 31st, 2023 and Metro Areas by April 28th (the only states to not have submitted a NOIP by March 31st include Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and South Dakota)
  2. starting now, develop and submit a planning grant application to receive its formula dollars ($3M per state, $1M per Metro Area (only 67 most populous)
  3. later, develop and submit an implementation grant application to compete for a portion of the $4.6B implementation funds

>> What are the immediate deadlines?

States: must have submitted NOIP by Friday, 3/31 then submit planning grant application by 4/28. The only states to not have submitted a NOIP by March 31st include Florida, Iowa, Kentucky and South Dakota.

67 Metro Areas: must submit NOIP by 4/28 then submit planning grant application by 5/31

Federally-Recognized Tribes/Consortia: submit planning grant applications by 6/15

>> Actions your community can take:

  1. View this State Allocation + Status Airtable to see which states have not submitted its NOIP – the deadline is this Friday, 3/31
  2. View this Metro Areas (67 Most Populous) Allocation + Status Airtable to see if Metro Areas in your state have submitted their NOIP – deadline is 4/28
  3. View this All Metro Areas Airtable to see how your area might organize to be included in planning and implementation efforts

>> More actions you can take:

  • Contact your state’s EPA office and your state’s EPA EJ coordinators to inquire about which agency/org will be the lead organization responsible for submitting its NOIP on time. Or contact your state agency directly. Here’s another contact list that may be helpful.
  • Send these Airtable links and FAQs directly to potential lead orgs or agencies
  • Consider contacting the lead organization for your state and Metro Area to engage with—and to be included in–the planning grant application. Note – you must be formally a part of the planning grant in order to be written into a future implementation grant. Here is what the EPA says in its FAQs: “The lead organization may sub-award funds to other jurisdictions, academic institutions, or non-profit organizations to assist in the development of a regional plan in accordance with EPA grants policy. As noted above, Metropolitan area plans are expected to cover the geographic scope of the individual sub-state jurisdictions (e.g., cities, counties, air pollution control agency districts) that comprise the metropolitan statistical area (MSA).”

Eligible planning activities may include:

  • Staffing and contractual costs necessary to develop the deliverables identified in this document;
  • Planning and implementing meetings, workshops, and convenings to foster collaboration among and between levels of government, the public, and key stakeholders;
  • Outreach and education for stakeholders and members of the public
  • Subawards to municipalities, air pollution control agencies, regional planning organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, etc.;
  • Modeling and analytical costs, including purchase or licensing of software, data, or tools;
  • Studies, assessments, data collection, etc., needed to develop the required deliverables;
  • Evaluation and metrics-tracking activities;
  • Training and staff capacity-building costs;
  • Supplies (e.g., office supplies, software;, printing, etc.);
  • Incidental costs related to the above activities, including but not limited to travel, membership fees, and indirect costs; and/or,
  • Other allowable activities as necessary to complete the required deliverables.
  1. Remember, Justice40 is an outcome, not just an intention. Language in these grants specify that states and localities “will be required to develop climate action plans designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with particular attention to measures that will have benefits for low income and disadvantaged communities.” To ensure accountability and Justice40 outcomes, communities must engage and be engaged, and must be equitably resourced through these planning and implementation efforts to ensure meaningful benefits flow to our communities most overburdened and disadvantaged by environmental injustices and climate impacts.

To learn more, please see the following resources:

 

II. Spotlight: EPA’s Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program (EJ TCGM)

The new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking (EJ TCGM) Program is a competition to select multiple Grantmakers around the nation to reduce barriers to the federal grants application process communities face and increase the efficiency of the awards process for environmental justice grants. Grantmakers will design competitive application and submission processes, award environmental justice subgrants, implement a tracking and reporting system, provide resources and support to communities, all in collaboration with EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights.

This opportunity is for those seeking to become grantmakers, not for applicants seeking funding to undertake a community project. However, once grantmakers are awarded the funding, subgrants for community based organizations will be available for three distinct phases:

  • Phase I: Assessment – One year up to $150,000 assessment projects
  • Phase II: Planning – 1-2 year up to $250,000 planning projects
  • Phase III: Project Development – two-year up to $350,000 project development projects

Those eligible to be considered as a grantmaker include:

  • A community-based nonprofit organization, which may include community foundations and nonprofits working with community (For definition of community see page 4 of the RFA)
  • A partnership of community-based nonprofit organizations
  • Partnership between Indian tribe and a community-based nonprofit organization
  • Partnership between institution of higher education and a community-based nonprofit organization

The grantmaker can also include subrecipients in their application to help carry out the functions required by the grantmaking entity. If you are interested in leading or joining an application to become a grantmaker, check out who else is thinking about it on this Find Partners Form. To learn what EPA region you are in, please see the overview below:

  • Region 1 – Boston (serving CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT)
  • Region 2 – New York City (serving NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and 8 federally recognized Indian Nations)
  • Region 3 – Philadelphia (serving DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV and 7 federally recognized tribes)
  • Region 4 – Atlanta (serving AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN)
  • Region 5 – Chicago (serving IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and WI)
  • Region 6 – Dallas (serving AR, LA, NM, OK, and TX)
  • Region 7 – Kansas City (serving IA, KS, MO, and NE)
  • Region 8 – Denver (serving CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, and WY)
  • Region 9 – San Francisco (serving AZ, CA, HI, NV, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Marshall Islands, and Republic of Palau)
  • Region 10 – Seattle (serving AK, ID, OR, WA and 271 native tribes)

For more information, please reach out to Jacob Burney (EJ Grants Program Manager) at burney.jacob@epa.gov or 202-564-2907.

III. On the Horizon: Upcoming Community Learning and Engagement Opportunities

Equity in Roadway Safety Webinar

On April 17 at 12pm ET, the Department of Transportation will host a webinar that will feature noteworthy actions and tools that transportation professionals and other stakeholders can implement to address disparities in traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Click here to register. Learn more about the webinar by clicking here.

Webinar: Tea Time with Piyachat Terrell

On April 25th at 3pm ET, Just Solutions is talking with Piyachat Terrell, the Director of the Community Engagement and Assistance Division at the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. This webinar will explore Terrell’s work to advance equity and justice in the environmental justice movement. Click here to register.

Training Webinar: Considerations for Underserved Commercial Buildings

On April 26 at 1:30pm ET, Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) is hosting a webinar to introduce the concept of underserved, or equity-eligible, commercial buildings. Click here to register.

Training Webinar: Drivers of Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing

On April 28 at 1pm ET, Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) is hosting a webinar to explore energy costs in the context of total operating expenses in different types of affordable housing, introduce the drivers (or lack thereof) of energy efficiency upgrades, and offer suggestions for overcoming challenges. Attendees will learn how to make the business case for energy efficiency upgrades to affordable housing owners and developers. Click here to register.

Grassroots Civics Institute

Register by May 1st for Community Learning Partnership’s free virtual Grassroots Civics Institute, running May 12th through July 7th. The Grassroots Civics Institute is designed for educators and those who want to share and learn new approaches for cultivating civic engagement and agency among their students and communities, as well as strategies for putting civic engagement, agency, and democracy at the center of their institution’s purpose. Click here to register.

Training Webinar: Choosing your Building Upgrade Zone: Structural Equity

On May 10 at 1:30pm ET, Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) is hosting a webinar to introduces the concept of energy equity and gives an overview of how disinvestment in communities has contributed to the problem of inefficient, unhealthy, and expensive-to-operate residential and commercial building stock. Our speakers will offer guiding strategies for choosing your building upgrade zone by prioritizing procedural equity, lived experience considerations, and data availability to decide which buildings or segments of communities to focus on when planning for upgrades. Attendees will also be introduced to several data tools that can assist you in choosing residential and commercial buildings to include in your building upgrade zone. Register Here.

Training Webinar: Building Upgrades: An Opportunity for Workforce and Economic Inclusion

On May 11 at 12pm ET, Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) is hosting a webinar to introduce strategies that will leverage residential and commercial retrofit projects towards realizing workforce diversity and economic inclusion. It will cover why leveraging retrofits for community benefits is important and identify challenges towards employing a diverse workforce and implementing economic inclusion strategies. Register Here

IV. Resources

UPCOMING: HBCU Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

Interested in how the Administration’s Agencies have been implementing Justice40 and incorporating Equity and Environmental Justice concerns into their Agency missions? Check out ECC’s quick reference guide here.

Technical Assistance Support to Apply for Buildings UP Prize: Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) and our partners have been helping plan and implement a new funding opportunity from the Department of Energy: The Buildings Upgrade Prize (or “Buildings UP”). Buildings UP is funded by the DOE Building Technologies Office and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The Residential Retrofits for Energy Equity (R2E2) Team, which is composed of ACEEE, Elevate, HR&A and ECC, will be offering trainings and technical support for this first phase of the prize.

Buildings UP is designed to accelerate the deployment of equitable, widespread energy efficiency and efficient electrification upgrades in existing buildings across the country. Phase 1 will award over $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance across winning teams. Applications for Phase 1 are now open and will close July 18, 2023 and winners will be announced in September or October. DOE is seeking 20-60 winning teams to join the Buildings Upgrade Prize.

In addition, there are 27 Application Support Prize awards still available, which close on April 26. This prize of $5,000 and 10 hours of technical assistance provided by Elevate is meant to encourage applicants who might otherwise not have the staff capacity, time, or expertise to submit a full Phase 1 submission. Primary intended competitors for the Application Support Prize are first-time applicants for DOE Building Technologies Office funding and community-based organizations (CBOs) representing or serving areas within DOE-designated Justice40 census tracts, tribal lands, and U.S. territories as well as affordable and low-income housing, underserved commercial, nonprofit, and public buildings such as Title 1 schools.