Introducing E-ROBOT, the $5 Million U.S. Department of Energy's Envelope Retrofit Prize

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On Monday the U.S. Department of Energy released up to $5 million for its first American-Made Buildings Prize on Envelope Retrofit Opportunities for Building Optimization Technologies (E‑ROBOT).

The E‑ROBOT Prize hopes to incentivize the development of advanced robotics capabilities and controls for building envelope retrofits. Advanced robotics are just one of many innovative Advanced Building Construction technologies and methods that can improve the affordability and efficiency of new buildings and retrofits while simultaneously increasing occupant comfort and health. Additionally, these systems will lead to rapid gains in productivity that will also allow for a truly massive scaling up of retrofit programs in the U.S.

This announcement marks the opening of submissions for Phase 1 of the E‑ROBOT Prize. Researchers, small businesses, students, and nonprofit organizations based in the United States are encouraged to apply. Building technology incubators and investors, industry leaders, labor unions, regional energy-efficiency offices, academia, and think tanks are encouraged to provide technical and market insights, marketing expertise, product validation, and other support.

“The E‑ROBOT Prize is designed to stimulate technological innovation, create new opportunities for the buildings and construction workforce, and reduce building retrofit costs,” said Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Simmons. “Successful ideas will also create a safer and faster retrofit process, ensure consistent, high-quality installations, enhance construction retrofit productivity, and improve overall energy savings of the built environment.”

The E‑ROBOT Prize is a set of two successive phases that offer participants up to $4 million in cash prizes for competitors. Each phase will include a contest period when participants will work to rapidly advance their solutions. An additional $1 million in recognition awards for connectors and competitor support in the American-Made Network.

“Leveraging the power of competition, the E‑ROBOT Prize will demonstrate how advancements in robotics technology can improve energy efficiency and complement the existing workforce,” said Alex Fitzsimmons, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency. “Robots can safely enter small spaces and cavities, such as ductwork, to perform air-sealing or other efficiency improvements, allowing workers to reach places or perform activities that were previously impossible. These technological advances will create new employment and business opportunities while also helping to ensure quality, consistency, and safety when installing energy-efficiency measures.”

The American-Made Buildings Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and funded by EERE’s Building Technologies Office. Please visit the E‑ROBOT Prize webpage on the American-Made Challenges site for more information, including how to get involved and apply.

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

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