Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act S.717

Posted on June 26, 2013


Introduced in the United States Senate by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act will establish a new pilot program at the U.S. Department of Energy to provide financial grants to non-profit organizations to help make buildings they own and operate more energy efficient.

S.717 will thus enable America’s schools, youth centers, houses of worship, hospitals etcetera to reduce their operating costs, lessen impact on the environment and bolster America’s energy independence.  Under the proposal, $50 million would be authorized for Fiscal Years 2014-2017; nonprofits could apply for grants up to 50% of the total cost of the energy efficiency program—up to $200,000.  The legislation contains an offset from other DoE program resources.


Staggering Energy and Environmental Costs:

According to the U.S. E.P.A.— nonresidential buildings in the U.S. consume more than $200 billion annually in energy costs.  The United States is also home to 4000 Boys & Girls Clubs, 2700 YMCAs, 2900 nonprofit hospitals and more than 17,000 museums.  These buildings also account for a significant portion of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Among nonprofits in the United States, there are approximately 370,000 houses of worship and, according to the EPA, they collectively spend more than $3 billion dollars in annual energy costs.

Limited Access to Other Incentive/Support Programs:

Many of the energy efficiency incentive or support programs that have been in place the past several years have been structured in the form of tax credits and rebates.  Nonprofits – being tax exempt entities – have not been able to take advantage of these programs.  Moreover, nonprofit entities are often least able to surmount the “front end” investment cost of efficiency retrofits.

Economic and Social Benefits:

Based on its “Green Congregations” project, the EPA estimates that these congregations could cut their energy costs by 1/3 and thus have nearly $1 billion to spend on their programs and services.

S.717 would also be a catalyst for job creation as nonprofits would finally be able to undertake deferred projects such as replacing outdated HVAC systems and inefficient doors and windows.

A White House task force has also recognized that energy efficiency improvement undertaken by nonprofits will also have ripple effects by inspiring and influencing their members and beneficiaries to do the same in their homes and businesses.

BROAD COALITION OF SUPPORT (Coalition in formation)

Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

National Council of Churches

Jewish Federations of North America

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists

YMCA Association of the U.S.A.

Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

Interfaith Power & Light

Association of Art Museum Directors