The United States Senate voted to approve a new infrastructure bill on Aug. 10, 2021. On page 1,729 of the trillion-dollar bill is the “Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot Program.”
This program would distribute $50 million in grants to nonprofits to purchase new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems for their buildings. The Department of Energy would oversee the program and is expected to provide grants of up to $200,000 for each nonprofit project.
Projects would include:
- Purchase of new HVAC units
- Purchase of new generators
- Replacement of energy efficient doors
- Replacement of energy efficient windows
- Purchase of renewable energy generators
- Purchase of renewable energy heaters
For this program to have funding, the House still needs to pass the bill and president needs to sign off on it. If this bill becomes law, keep an eye out on GrantWatch for details on the application process for these energy grants.
Nonprofits, especially religious institutions, have a difficult time taking advantage of energy efficiency incentives . Since nonprofits don’t pay taxes, these subsidies, which come in the form of tax credit, are not a viable option.
Buildings operated by nonprofits urgently need an upgrade. Churches and Temples in particular need to maintain older structures, but many congregations have not been able to pay for costly energy and utility improvements.
Felipe Witchger is the executive director of the Community Purchasing Alliance, a Washington D.C. based organization that helps struggling churches and nonprofits.
Witchger said 80 percent of religious congregations require building upgrades.
“HVAC and building improvements can reduce 20 to 30% in energy usage and cut carbon emissions,” said Witchger, whose cooperative recently assisted a historically Black congregation secure a 20-year loan to replace a $30,000 HVAC system.
Galen Carey, the vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, said the bill is necessary in moving forward as a community.
“Anything we can do to help the energy efficiency in the nonprofit sector is good for mitigating climate change and the operating efficiency of nonprofits that play such important roles in our society,” Carey said.
During congressional debates over a bill, lawmakers can remove some items of the legislation and add onto other sections. However, the Department of Energy will hopefully be able to offer these energy grants by 2022.