Frequently Asked Questions

Select a FOA to view questions and answers for the specific funding opportunity. Alternatively select "Non-FOA related items" to view system FAQ items.

Question 1: I’d like to talk with somebody about my technology approach to understand if the DOE would have interest in my organization submitting an application.
Answer 1: DOE will not provide any input regarding the merits of an application or approach outside of the formal evaluation process.  Applicants must make their own determination to submit an application based in part on the ability of the approach to meet the FOA objectives and the needs of the specific subtopic.
Question 1: The proposed research aims to develop an integrated solar-geothermal HVAC system with an adaptive control system for smart homes to reduce electricity consumption and improve occupant comfort significantly. The innovations include 1) hydronic solar connector at roof attic to harvest solar energy and cool the building, 2) sand foundation layer for heat energy storage and extraction, and 3) a smart control system to adapt occupant behavior to save energy and improve comfort. Will the proposed research fit subtopic 1.1? Also, cost-sharing is mandatory. If so, what is the minimum?
Answer 1: DOE will not provide any input regarding the merits of an application or approach outside of the formal evaluation process. Applicants must make their own determination to submit an application based in part on the ability of the approach to meet the FOA objectives and the needs of the specific subtopic. Subtopic 1.1 focuses on innovations in the value chain of building energy technologies, particularly in the value-add before and after consumer use (i.e., in the manufacturing and postconsumer activity through reuse and/or upcycling). Applicants should carefully review all subtopic area descriptions and submit to the subtopic to which they feel is most thoroughly addressed by the specific approach proposed. A minimum of 20% cost share is required for all applications with the exception of applications submitted in response to subtopic.
Question 2: Are international firms eligible to apply?
Answer 2:

Eligibility requirements can be found in section III – Eligibility Information.  In general, foreign entities may apply as a prime recipient if they are incorporated (or otherwise formed) under the laws of a state or territory of the United States and have a physical location for business operations in the United States.  Section III.A.iii – Foreign Entities further details a process to request a waiver to this requirement.  A foreign entity may receive funding as a subrecipient to this funding opportunity.

Additionally, this funding opportunity requires that all work performed under an award must be performed in the United States. This requirement does not apply to the purchase of supplies and equipment; however, the prime recipient should make every effort to purchase supplies and equipment within the United States.  Similar to foreign eligibility, section IV.I.iii - Performance of Work in the United States (Foreign Work Waiver) allows for limited waiver circumstances.

Question 3: Is the recently released DE-FOA-0002196 - Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers & Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) – 2020 related to DE-FOA-0002206 Connected Communities or will a separate FOA will be released for DE-FOA-0002206?
Answer 3: The BENEFIT 20 FOA is not directly related to the upcoming Connected Communities FOA.
Question 4: We have worked on developing a new and technology for buildings. Although the technology shows promise, it is still in need of basic data points, engineering, and testing. Can this FOA provide the resources to further develop the idea?
Answer 4: One objective of this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to advance research and development of next‐generation building technologies that have the potential for significant energy savings and improved demand flexibility, affordability, and occupant comfort.  To know whether a specific technology/approach could address this FOA, potential applicants must read the entire FOA document.  Among the many requirements of this FOA, potential applicants must address specific technology needs identified in the FOA as topics and subtopics (see section I.B – Topic Areas).  Selection of proposed technologies/approaches is a competitive process.  All proposed technologies/approaches will be evaluated against defined FOA criteria (see section V.A – Technical Review Criteria).  Applicants must meet all FOA requirements and the technology/approach must directly address the FOA and subtopic objectives/goals to be eligible.  EERE does not make a determination as to the eligibility of a specific technology or approach outside of the formal evaluation process.
Question 5: Is the Funding Opportunity a “Grant”?
Answer 5: See section II.B - EERE Funding Agreements.  The preferred method to provide financial support to prime recipients (who are not Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs)) under this FOA is a cooperative agreement.  Cooperative agreements include substantial involvement of the government in the direction and redirection of the technical aspects of the project as a whole.  See section VI.B.ix - Statement of Substantial Involvement.  EERE generally does not fund projects through grants.
Question 6: Are certain Universities (i.e.- urban-centered) allowed to apply.
Answer 6: Domestic educational institutions are eligible to apply for funding as a prime recipient or subrecipient.  The FOA does not differentiate the types of educational institutions nor does it provide preference to the various types.   See section III.A - Eligible Applicants.
Question 7: Is a community partner a requirement of the FOA
Answer 7:

In general, partnering is not a requirement for most subtopics of the FOA. However, partnerships and teaming arrangements may be used to strengthen an approach.  This may especially be true where a teaming arrangement may supplement the prime applicant’s approach to provide critical expertise, capabilities, and other valuable resources.  Proposed applications to the FOA will be evaluated, in part, based on the ability of the team to conduct the proposed research and meet the objectives of the FOA.  See section V.A - Technical Review Criteria

Some FOA subtopics do require partnership and/teaming arrangements to meet the objectives of the subtopics.  Two examples are subtopics 2.1 - Mass Produced Highly Efficient Manufactured Homes and Portable Classrooms and 2.3 - Advanced Workforce for Advanced Technology.  The applicant should read the subtopic descriptions found in section I.B - Topic Areas and understand potential teaming requirements.

This FOA has provided a method to facilitate possible teaming arrangements through the publication of the Teaming Partner List (see section I.D).  This list will continuously be updated throughout the early stages of the FOA.  EERE does not endorse or otherwise evaluate the qualifications of the entities in the teaming list.  Applicants are not required to partner through this list
Question 8: Is there a framework for the Project Narrative?
Answer 8: For information on the full application project narrative, see section IV.C.ii - Technical Volume.  The applicant should read the Funding Opportunity Description found in section I. The proposed approach must address the objectives and goals of the FOA, topic, and subtopic and any supporting material/documents provided by the FOA.  The applicant should detail an approach to achieve the proposed application objectives using the structure of section IV.C.ii.  The proposed approach will be evaluated against the criteria set forth in V.A.ii – Full Applications.  The applicant should address each evaluation criterion and sub criterion in their technical narrative. 
Question 9: Could you please give us some more details on the type of funding Instrument the FOA is proposing? Could you indicate where the FOA can be found?
Answer 9:

The Funding Opportunity and can be located at:
Within the FOA, utilize the “Table of Contents” to navigate the details of the FOA.

Question 10: When looking at Topic 1 and its sub-topics, other than a new measurement method, the others look to have an assumption of hardware technology basis. Is that a requirement, or is that just an assumptive wording of the topic scope? Are software solutions acceptable?
Answer 10: Each of the subtopics have different requirements.  Some subtopics, for example, are naturally more suited towards physical or material development efforts.  However, in general, the FOA is not limited to hardware approaches.  The applicant must propose, and will be evaluated against, an approach that has the ability to achieve the objectives of the FOA and specific subtopic.
Question 11: We are unable to download the following document: SF-424: Application for Federal Assistance.
Answer 11:  Depending on platform, Apple or Windows, there may be differences in how documents are downloaded. For Windows users, typical platforms include Edge and Internet Explorer.  The use of Internet Explorer is encouraged as it is not producing any issues.
 Some platforms, including Edge and Chrome, may utilize a “Viewer” style to open the file within the platform application.  This method does not allow the file to be fillable, causing the error.  If this occurs, it is encouraged to download the file and open with its native application (such as a pdf viewer). Platforms that have this issue typically download the file to a folder named “Downloads”.  The file can be successfully opened there.
Question 12: Under Section III. Eligibility Information. Part F. Limitation on Number of Concept Papers and Full Applications Eligible for Review, can DOE clarify the statement? Does this mean an entity can submit only one Full Application to this FOA even if more than one Concept Paper is submitted and Encouraged
Answer 12: No, an entity may submit more than one Concept Paper and Full Application, provided that each concept paper/application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project. An eligible Concept Paper must be submitted to submit a Full Application. All concept papers and applications must be for a stand‐alone project that is not dependent or contingent upon another application submitted to this or any other FOA.
Question 13: Is this funding opportunity for just research and/or implementation, as well?
Answer 13: Section I. of the FOA provides detail of the Funding Opportunity Description. Part B. of this section describes the Topic Areas of the FOA. The nature of these topic areas vary and some may be research, implementation, and/or both.
Question 14: Within the FOA, the term “manufactured housing” is used. What does the term “manufactured housing” refer to? Is it the formal DOE/HUD definition that includes only homes that are “built and remain on a permanent chassis” (i.e., mobile homes)? Or does this also include prefab modular homes that are transported and set on foundations? Does it include prefab modular units that are transported and assembled into multifamily buildings?
Answer 14: Proposed approaches should be applicable for the HUD Code manufactured housing sector, but modular home solutions that meet the energy efficiency and cost targets of the subtopic will also be considered.  As such, manufacturing housing may include the chassis (per HUD Code) or be modular with no chassis.  Approaches may also include single or multifamily buildings to address the business risk of modifying conventional factories and/or to enhance manufacturing productivity, innovation, and economies of scale per the subtopic description. 
Question 15: Regarding the R&D targets for COP for cooling, which are greater than 12.3. Does this figure constitute of only electrical energy input or all forms of energy, such as heat, mechanical etc.? I would appreciate it this is clarified in the webinar.
Answer 15: The FOA (and BTO’s) HVAC targets are aggressive in that they match the best vapor compression technologies. The Seasonal COPcooling = 12.3 is appropriate for this FOA. This is a seasonal site COP that corresponds to a 42 SEER rated AC unit, 42/3.412 = 12.3 COP.  (Seasonal COPcooling was defined as the SEER/3.412 Btu/Wh.)
Question 16: Unable to join the webinar, where can I see slides or a transcript?
Answer 16:

A20: If you were unable to join the webinar, the transcript and slides can be located at: under BENEFIT FY20 FOA Potential Applicant Informational Webinar (Conducted 10/05/20).

Question 17: Is an active SAM account needed to submit concept paper? For industry applicants that may be new to DOE funding there is a risk that with the 44 day lead time, SAM accounts will not be approved in time for concept paper submissions on November 5th. Will these concept paper submissions be allowed if an organization is still awaiting SAM account approvals?
Answer 17: Although not required to submit a Concept Paper or Application, a SAM account (with no exclusions or debarments) must be complete dto become a Recipient and receive an Award under this FOA.
Question 18: In some circumstances, a technology concept may apply to multiple subtopic areas. Can an Applicant propose the same technology concept under two or more subtopic area if it cannot distinguish which subtopic area that best fits the technology? If not, is it up to the Applicant to determine which subtopic area best fits the technology? Can we talk to relevant PM in the area to discuss the applicability of the concept.
Answer 18: Applicants should submit to the subtopic to which they feel most thoroughly addresses the specific approach proposed.  In very limited circumstances, DOE may move an application from one subtopic to another.  In those instances, the applicant will be notified via email.  DOE can provide no guidance in the applicability of the concept.  Applicants should address all FOA-specific inquiries to
Question 19: Regarding cost share, are there are any concessions or waivers to the cost share % if the applicant team consists of a U.S. National Laboratory and a public University. Specifically, is the cost share requirement still at 20% for the total project funding requested or just for the portion allocated to the University (since FFRDCs cannot contribute towards cost share requirements).
Answer 19: No.  There are no concessions or waivers to the cost share percentage.  Cost share contribution must be calculated on the total project costs inclusive of all teaming organizations.
Question 20: EERE is moving to a new portal for funding opportunities on November 2. In order for your organization to continue applying to EERE opportunities, you must create an account and register your organization in the EERE Program Information Center. Does this mean that this FOA should be answered through the new portal?
Answer 20: For this FOA, you will continue to use the Exchange system.  Future funding opportunities will be posted in the EERE Program Information Center (EPIC).  Per EERE guidance:  Applicants will continue to use eXCHANGE for all EERE opportunities published prior to November 2, 2020.  You can also prepare for future funding opportunities by registering in the EPIC system.
Question 21: For subsections 1.2, and 1.3 is it only for research and implementation on new technology that is not currently on the market? More specifically, can it be field verification on technology that is not commonly or has limited implementation in the market?
Answer 21: It is not the intent of the FOA to simply validate technologies that are already in existence with limited implementation.  Field validation, for this FOA, is meant to supplement the research and development activities.  Applicants to this FOA may consider including field validation as part of their approach to verify technologies and integration practices.  Field validation may be used to identify gaps in design and in-field performance.
Question 22: Do you have a target for the number of awards that might be given to private companies (as opposed to government labs or academic institutions)?
Answer 22: There is no pre-defined target based on organization type.  Selection will be based primarily on full application criteria (see full application technical review criteria in section V.A.ii).  In limited circumstances, the program may implement Program Policy Factors which may include organization diversity (see section V.C.i).
Question 23: I am writing to ask if A) this call is clearly different to an anticipated call for Connected Communities, and B) if a group of researchers can apply to a single subtopic (e.g. 1.8) and solicit funding?
Answer 23:

This call is separate from the upcoming Connected Communities FOA. 

A group of researchers may be eligible to apply to a single subtopic (see section III.A – Eligible Applicants).  The “group” may apply as a single prime recipient or as a consortium  In the case of a consortium, the consortium is responsible for the overall management and oversight of the project approach.  More commonly, a single entity may take the lead as a prime recipient teaming with the other group members as subrecipients.  In this case, the prime recipient is responsible for the overall management and oversight of the project approach.  The prime recipient will also be responsible for flowing down contractual terms to project subrecipients.

Question 24: The first sentence in this subtopic 1.7 description identifies “green gap” as a desired need, but the second sentence seems to limit interest to OLED and quantum dot technology. Is DOE considering other technologies that would could provide new, novel narrow band green emitters, such as inorganic phosphors?
Answer 24: This sentence looks to address platform level (package/module/panel) approaches to advanced solid-state lighting.  Example technology gaps, such as those related to the green gap for LEDs, quantum dots, and OLEDs, were provided in the subtopic description.  However, these examples are not meant to limit acceptable areas of proposal.  Various green emitter approaches are acceptable, but any proposed approach must support subtopic requirements in this FOA. Per these requirements, proposals should refer to the 2019 DOE Lighting Research and Development Opportunities (RDO, available at document for background on problems of interest and specific targets, including criteria for New Frontiers (e.g. on page 94 of the RDO) as appropriate.
Question 25: Please can you further explain what type of response and/or comments will be provided after the concept papers are reviewed? Will applicants be advised if concept papers meet the concept stage, and/or make comments to prepare approved concepts for the full application stage, and/or explain how the concepts missed the specific purpose of the BENEFIT FOA?
Answer 25: EERE will provide an encourage or discourage notification.  No additional information (strength/weakness) will be provided with the notification.  Per section VI.A.ii - Concept Paper Notifications, applicants may submit a full application even if discouraged by EERE.  However, by discouraging the submission of a full application, EERE intends to convey its lack of programmatic interest in the proposed project.
Question 26: Can you elaborate on the "Principal Investigators" and "Entity" portions of the FOA
Answer 26:

Entity refers to an organization or institution.  Eligible Applicants are found in section III.A.  Regardless of the applicant type, a project must identify a principal investigator to oversee the technical aspects of the approach.  This person will also be the technical point of contact to EERE.  That principal investigator must be associated with the application's prime recipient.  Page 39 (32 based on the page number at the bottom right) refers to Unincorporated Consortia.  In the case of an Unincorporated Consortia, the consortium must "designate one member {entity} of the consortium to serve as the prime recipient..."

Question 27: Can workforce development research be integrated with technology R&D?
Answer 27:

Workforce development and technology R&D efforts cannot be integrated into a single application.  The requirements for each, including  project funding size and cost share requirements, are different.  Workforce-based activities must apply to subtopic 2.3 - Advanced Workforce for Advanced Technology.  R&D approaches are applicable to subtopics 1.1-1.9, 2.1 and 2.2.

Question 28: What is needed for the November 5th, proposal deadline
Answer 28:

The Concept Paper is due November 5, 2020.  Concept Paper requirements can be found in section IV.B – Content and Form of the Concept Paper.  Each Concept Paper must be limited to a single concept or technology and conform to the 4-page maximum stated in the guidelines. Unrelated concepts and technologies should not be consolidated into a single Concept Paper.  Additional technical review criteria for the concept paper can be found in section V.A.i

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their Concept Papers at least 48 hours in advance of the submission deadline and should allow at least 1 hour under normal conditions to submit.  Once the Concept Paper is submitted in EERE Exchange, applicants may revise or update that submission until the expiration of the applicable deadline.

Question 29: How will Review teams be looking at all of the submittals for each topic/subtopic?
Answer 29:

Applications that are determined eligible will be evaluated in accordance with this FOA and by the standards set forth in EERE’s Notice of Objective Merit Review Procedure (76 Fed. Reg. 17846, March 31, 2011).  The names of the Merit Review Panel will not be released to the public, and typically consist of at least three qualified individuals.  In the event multiple panels are needed due to a large number of applications, an Evaluation and Selection Plan will be in place to ensure consistency among the panels, per the 76 Fed. Reg. standard.  The Merit Review Advisory Report is then provided to the Selection Official.

Question 30: When will the encouragement letters be sent?
Answer 30:

Encourage/Discourage notifications for the concept paper will occur approximately a month after concept paper submission (subject to actual review time).  Applicants will have approximately 30 days from receipt of the Concept Paper Encourage/Discourage notification on EERE Exchange to prepare and submit a Full Application. Regardless of the date the applicant receives the Encourage/Discourage notification, the submission deadline for the Full Application remains the date and time stated on the FOA cover page: 01/20/2021 5 pm ET.  Applicants may submit a Full Application even if they receive a notification discouraging them from doing so.  Such assessments do not necessarily reflect the judgements on the merits of the proposed project; EERE intends only to convey its lack of programmatic interest in the proposed project.

Question 31: Can a full application be combination of couple of new technologies working together as a single project?
Answer 31:

Generally, if each concept, approach, or technology can stand on its own (be successful independent of another) then they should not be combined into a single application.  Potential applicants will need to make that determination on their own.  Unrelated concepts and technologies should not be consolidated into a single Concept Paper or Full Application.  An entity may submit more than one Concept Paper and one Full Application to this FOA, provided that each concept paper/application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project, and provided that an eligible Concept Paper was submitted for each Full Application. Further selection criteria can be found in section V. 

Question 32: What the level of technology readiness (TRL Level) that is expected for a technology applying for this FOA?
Answer 32:

The FOA spans TRL levels 3-7.  TRL does not apply to subtopic 2.3 - Advanced Workforce for Advanced Technology.  TRL definitions can be found at:

Question 33: Is there an estimation for the number of Awards tied to Advanced Workforce and Advanced Technology (Topic 2.3)?
Answer 33:

Subtopic 2.3 has an estimated funding of $7M available to be awarded, with no one award to exceed $750,000; subject to the availability of appropriated funds.  EERE may issue one, multiple, or no awards under the subtopic area.

Question 34: Are local governments capable of receiving funding through the FOA?
Answer 34:

Local Governments are eligible.  General competitive guidance is the same for all entity types: 1) make sure to read, understand, and comply with all FOA requirements; 2) approaches must address specific FOA, topic, and subtopic objectives and goals; 3) applications must follow the requirements set forth in section IV.B and IV.C - Content and Form of the Concept Paper/Full Application; and 4) address the Technical Review Criteria set forth in section V.A.

Question 35: Can the Principal Investigator (PI) be changed during the negotiation period?
Answer 35:

Yes, however, the Principal Investigator (PI) can be changed during the negotiation period and other times during the project (should one receive an Award).   However, the application will be evaluated, in part, according to "the capability of the Principal Investigator(s) and the proposed team to address all aspects of the proposed work with a high probability of success" (see section V.A.ii).  As a key personnel, EERE would need to agree to any changes to the PI based on the new PI's qualifications to conduct the project workplan and to meet overall objectives.

Question 36: Under Subtopic 1.6 - Appliances Research and Development and Field Validation it states "Acceptable applications under this subtopic include" and then lists four bulleted types of appliances. Is this an exclusive list?
Answer 36: No, in these instances, the items listed are meant to be examples and are not meant as limitations.
Question 37: Under subtopic 2.3 lists "critical design and construction professionals". Does the proposer need to address all of them, or can only a subset by addressed?
Answer 37: The critical design and construction professionals (e.g., builders, architects, engineers, the trades, and local building department personnel, among others) are provided as samples.  Applicants are not required to address every example given.  However, the application will be evaluated, in part, according to its effectiveness in reaching a broad range of those professionals that “play key roles affecting the efficiency of homes and businesses and ensuring that buildings will deliver intended benefits to their eventual occupants.”
Question 38: Acceptable areas for applications under Subtopic 1.7 includes Lighting Science. Does the 20% cost share requirement apply to lighting science applications as well?
Answer 38: Yes.  The 20% cost share requirement applies to lighting science applications under subtopic 1.7.
Question 39: If a DOE FFRDC is the prime / sole contractor on a proposal, does the 20% cost-sharing from non-federal sources still apply?
Answer 39: Yes.  In this case, the DOE FFRDC would need to find a non-Federal source of cost share through either a team partner (subrecipient) or third party.  Vendors/contractors may not provide cost share as this is considered a discount.
Question 40: Regarding Subtopic 1.9, while the HVAC and DHW systems are not directly allowed are unrated auxiliary devices, for example: Are proposal that include crankcase heaters on heat pumps eligible? Circulation pumps used in hot water loops? Instantaneous water heaters? Is it reasonable to say this category can cover the devices that are not covered by DOE standards?
Answer 40:

Subtopic 1.3 is agnostic as to whether a water heater is instantaneous (tankless), and therefore proposals for that technology should not be submitted to Subtopic 1.9. However, crankcase heaters, circulation pumps, and other auxiliary electric devices we do not consider under “heating, ventilation, air condition, light, water heating, and refrigeration” and therefore are eligible for Subtopic 1.9.

Question 41: If a full-time employee of a DOE FFRDC holds a Joint Appointment with a university, can the individual be included on a proposal from the university using their JA position with the university? Or can they only be included if the DOE FFRDC is shown as a sub-recipient?
Answer 41:

Without full insight into the joint appointment and recognizing that the national laboratory and university have different accounting structures, it appears from the question (“full-time employee of a DOE FFRDC”) that the particular individual would need to be proposed as an FFRDC participant and that the FFRDC would need to be a teaming partner.

The individual could participate as either a national laboratory employee or as a university employee as long as that national laboratory or university is a teaming member to the application.  The organization to which the individual is proposed must have an established rate and the ability to appropriately account for billable hours.  

Question 42: Regarding subtopic 1.6: Appliances Research and Development and Field Validation, a consideration is being made for proposing a compressor technology based on CO2 compression. CO2 compressors are used in (i.e.- supermarkets) as commercial refrigerators. Are commercial refrigerators welcome in to this category given the subtopic states “…reduce the energy consumption of appliances used in residential and commercial buildings…” Just wanting to confirm whether commercial refrigerators can be counted as “appliances” used in the commercial buildings.
Answer 42: Yes, commercial refrigerators may be counted as an appliance under subtopic 1.6.
Question 43: The description of Subtopic 2.2 mentions "Field validation of advanced envelope technologies, installation methods and tools that result in major reductions in the installed costs of envelope retrofits are encouraged." Are new or emerging technologies that do not result in a reduction in the installed costs of envelope retrofits still allowable? I.e., a new or improved envelope technology that results in reduced energy use but not in reduced installed costs, would it be allowable under this subtopic?
Answer 43:

The applicant must make this determination on their own using the subtopic objective/goals and the evaluation criteria.   Generally, as this subtopic points out, cost reduction is an important requirement of the subtopic area.  For many new envelope technologies, cost has been recognized as roadblock to implementation.   In those cases, the application will be evaluated, in part, against the ability to reduce costs versus other advanced envelope technologies.  If the approach is based upon improvement of conventional technologies, with costs in line with those conventional approaches, cost reduction may be less important.

Question 44: Are there any specific guidelines for a concept paper and for a full application? Specifically, I refer to font type and size and margins, is there a template?
Answer 44: Font type, size requirements and margins, and similar information is found in section IV - Application and Submission Information beginning on page 39.  The Content and Form of required documents follow in section IV.B for concept papers and IV.C for full applications.
Question 45: I am in the process of developing a letter of intent and was curious about the Team Partner List. As a domestic educational institution, may we collaborate with a commercial partner not on the Teaming Partner List, or should one be used from the list?
Answer 45: The teaming partners list is used to facilitate the widest possible range of participation for this FOA.  It is meant to connect organizations that may not realize the capabilities of other potential partners and applicants.  Applicants are not required to use the teaming partner list.  Also note that this FOA does not have letters of intent but rather concept papers.
Question 46: Can you please clarify the meaning of your Eqn. (1) on page 5 of the FOA? • I suppose that ‘TBtu’ = 1012 Btu (Tera Btu). o According to the EIA, the present annual size of the US energy market is about 100 Quad (where 1 Quad = 1 quadrillion Btu = 1015 Btu = 1000 TBtu). o Since the Building sector accounts for about 40% of the US energy use, this = 40Quad = 40,000TBtu. o I was looking to see in this FOA if you had defined the 2040 energy market size, but I have not seen this? o The way that I interpret this is, for example the 2020 energy market size = 100 Quad = 100,000 TBtu. o Does the EIA have 2040 predictions of the US energy use??? If not, who has this number? • In my opinion, this FOA should define the meaning of “2040 Energy Market Size (TBtu)”. Otherwise, every submission will give different answers. • Now IF buildings account for 40% of US use, and IF we reduce this by 10%, then the energy savings = 0.40 x 0.10 = 0.04 (or 4%). o This means that IF the market size = 100,000 TBtu, the savings = 0.04 x 100,000 TBtu = 4,000 TBtu. o Note that your Eqn. (1) is not properly stated. The 2nd term [% Energy savings] is a number between 0 and 100 (not a number between 0 and 1.0).  Is should be [fraction of energy savings…], which is why I have used 0.04 and not 4.0%.
Answer 46:

The purpose of the energy savings calculation is not to determine the savings of the entire US building sector.  Rather, it is specific to the technology proposed.  The calculation should be applied to the baseline technology represented within the subtopic proposed.  Applicants are encouraged to use the free calculator tool Scout (  The FOA allows for applicants to also use other tools or methodologies to calculate the technical energy savings potential.  In this case, the applicant will need to define baseline metrics including the 2040 market size for the specific technology.   In either approach, all assumptions and baselines should be fully detailed in the technical narrative to allow proper evaluation.   As every application will propose a different technology and/or approach, you are correct that every submission will give different answers (energy savings potential) due to different 2040 market sizes as well as % energy savings.  Finally, you are correct:  The percent energy savings is meant to be taken in the decimal form (per 100) rather than the absolute percentage.

Question 47: Is a foreign national working for an academic institution eligible to apply as a PI? It is my understanding that the award is made to the institution but are there eligibility requirements for the PI when applying via an institution?
Answer 47:

Yes.  A foreign national is eligible to fill the role of principal investigator for the project.  The eligibility for the PI does not vary with organization type.  However, all foreign nationals identified to work on a project, regardless of role, must be approved prior to beginning to work on the project.  This includes foreign nationals with all subrecipient organizations.  It may also include foreign nationals at contractor/vendor organizations that will be exposed to Official Use Only (OUO) or business sensitive information, or information or technology developed under the Award that may be included under any category of national or state security.  For more information, see section VI.B.iii - Foreign National Access – Unclassified Foreign Visits and -Assignments Program.

Question 48: Is there a limit to the team size? How many co-PIs (i.e. - faculty members at an academic institution) can be on the same team?
Answer 48: There is no restriction to team size or co-PI’s.  While the FOA does allow for multiple PI’s, every application should identify a single lead PI that will be responsible for technical oversight of the project and will act as a single point of contact to EERE.  The lead PI must be employed by the application’s prime recipient.
Question 49: Is there a limit to the number of proposals submitted by the same PI/ team? The FOA states that an entity may submit multiple concept papers, but can the same PI or team apply for one of the subtopics in topic 1 and another for topic 2?
Answer 49: There is no limit to the number of applications an organization, team, or PI may submit.  Each application must be unique and not be dependent upon other applications.  For more information, see section III.F - Limitation on Number of Concept Papers and Full Applications Eligible for Review.
Question 50: For subtopic 2.3, if the PI is a faculty at an academic institution, is it implicitly assumed that there is a partnership with an academic institution or is there some explicit documentation required from the institution?
Answer 50:

The lead PI is expected to be employed by the prime applicant to the FOA.  The lead PI is responsible for the technical oversight of the project and will act as a single point of contact to EERE.  If the question refers to a co-PI acting for a subrecipient, all subrecipients must provide a commitment letter (see section IV.C.iv - Letters of Commitment).  Other documents are required of subrecipients including a project budget and disclosure of lobbying activities.  For more information, see section IV.C - Content and Form of the Full Application.

Question 51: The FOA Spans TRL levels 3-7. Do specific subtopics have preferred TRL ranges? For example, do some subtopics have a preferred TRL target of 3-5 and others have preferred TRL targets of 5-7?
Answer 51: The FOA is not structured towards defined TRLs.  TRL 3-7 was meant to give general guidance in response to a prior question.  Most subtopics fit within these levels.  Approaches are not required to span all levels.  Applicants should follow any requirements provided in the subtopic description.
Question 52: Under Topic 2: Advanced Building Construction, subtopic 2.1 includes “efficient mass produced homes and schools”. In this circumstance, would this area of focus consider the development of modular building systems for both the home and school through integrated wall units (smart walls) for both residential and commercial environments. Therefore, not truly manufacturing homes and schools in their entirety (just a portion of).
Answer 52: The focus of subtopic 2.1 is for complete structures (modular homes or schools).  Separate components are not acceptable as an application under this subtopic.  The applicant may consider partnering with other organizations to proposed a complete structure inclusive of multiple components to meet the requirements of the subtopic.
Question 53: Can the prime recipient petition the Contracting Officer to allow pre-award costs (Section I.ii) starting on a specific date predating the contract, rather than a specific period prior to contract date (e.g., a 90-day lookback)?
Answer 53: Please refer to Section IV. Part I. ii. of the FOA regarding pre award costs.
Question 54: Our team is interested in applying for Subtopic 2.1, but we do have one question. Our partner is specialized in manufacturing RV, mobile home and tiny house. Although the factory is also qualified to make manufactured house, we want to know if the call will also accept applications for other manufactured structures?
Answer 54: Subtopic 2.1 focuses on two subsectors:  manufactured homes and portable classrooms.  With respect to the manufactured homes, proposed approaches should be applicable toward the HUD code housing market.  See also question 14.
Question 55: For subtopic 2.1, would this subsection of the grant cover research and development into factory-built insulated wall panels, roof panels, and floor systems engineered to reduce field construction time, improve building envelope performance, and address concerns about indoor air quality? Does a panelized system fall under the manufactured home section?
Answer 55: Research and development of factory-built components are acceptable under this subtopic.  However, the end result must be the integration of several components into a single structure to meet the requirements of the subtopic.  Panelized systems are acceptable when they combine to a complete integrated structure.
Question 56: By when does the matchable funds (e.g., $750K) need to be secured? Does it all need to be secured before the BENEFIT contract is signed?
Answer 56: As per Section III. Part B. of FOA, applications submitted under all subtopics, except subtopic 2.3, must meet the 20% minimum requirement.Every cost share contribution must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Contracting Officer and incorporated into the project budget before the expenditures are incurred. In turn, it is expected that the application proposal provide proof that the cost share requirement can be met. Should an application be selected, these cost share commitments will be reviewed and confirmed through “negotiations” prior to any Award being made.
Question 57: Are solutions that deal with charging, including smart vehicle charging at homes or building sites allowed?
Answer 57: The FY20 BENEFIT FOA does not exclude EV charging, provided a clear case is made for the benefit to building energy efficiency and/or demand flexibility.  Benefits more pertinent to electric vehicles or infrastructure outside of buildings would be better suited for funding opportunities issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office.
Question 58: Please could you clarify the maximum funds available per award for Topic 1. The maximum is listed as $3M with 20% cost share. Which, if any, of the following is correct? a) Maximum DOE funds is $3M with 20% = 600K cost share, so total is 3.6M b) Maximum DOE funds is $3M with cost share =750K (where 750K is 20% of total = 3+0.75) c) Maximum DOE funds is 2.4M with cost share of 600K (where 600K is 20% of total 3M)
Answer 58: B is correct.  Cost share percentage is calculated as performer share/(Federal share + performer share).  For additional guidance, see Appendix B – Cost Share Information and Appendix C – Sample Cost Share Calculation for Blended Cost Share Percentage.  
Question 59: Would you please clarify more regarding “high-impact power electronics” mentioned in the following statement in subtopic 1.9? “Substantial improvements in energy performance for high-impact power electronics as defined by DOE19”
Answer 59: Any electronics end-use not covered by the other subtopics is eligible for this subtopic, but applications should demonstrate a substantial improvement over the baseline technology or approach currently on the market, as described in Section I.B.
Question 60: Subtopic 1.5 lists energy cascading as the primary goal of the subtopic, would this include waste heat from fuel driven equipment providing electricity to a building (CHP)? Or electricity and cooling (CCHP)?
Answer 60: Yes.  The subtopic includes waste heat from fuel driven equipment providing electricity and/or electricity and cooling.
Question 61: Does Subtopic 1.3 encompass research related to HVAC controls? Our team is interested in developing advanced controls for HVAC and perhaps also other building systems which exploit IoT technologies, so as to optimize efficiency and occupant comfort. We were unsure of whether such research is germane to Subtopic 1.3 or whether it might be better suited for Subtopic 1.9.
Answer 61: HVAC controls by themselves are not applicable to subtopics 1.3 or 1.9.  Subtopic 1.3 focuses on improvements to the HVAC equipment.  Subtopic 1.9 may include integrated building controls of which HVAC controls may be one component.
Question 62: On Subtopic 1.4, is the goal to address both objectives 1 and 2 together or can a solution only address objective 1) refrigeration technologies, etc., or objective 2) heat pumping solutions but not both?
Answer 62: The goal of the subtopic, as a whole, is to address both objectives.  Multiple selections may be made to meet that goal. Individual applications are not required to address both objectives.
Question 63: Under Subtopic 2.3: Advanced Workforce for Advanced Technology the FOA states that applications should target one of three critical industry segments, including “Quality Installation Training and Certification Programs.” For projects submitted in response to this industry segment, is it required that the project involve a certified installer program? Would a project that develops or expands an industry certification but that does not involve a certified installer program be responsive to the FOA?
Answer 63: No.  Applications do not require the involvement of a certified installer program
Question 65: For purposes of the Concept Paper, is the "Technical Point of Contact (POC)" the same as the "Principal Investigator (PI)," or can they be different?
Answer 65: The Technical POC and the PI can be the same person, however, the PI typically handles the technical/programmatic portions of the project while the POC typically handles the administrative/contractual/financial duties.
Question 66: Regarding subtopic 2.3, Advanced Workforce for Advanced Technology, we are not fully certain if four-year bachelor’s education programs are eligible as the call specifically mentions community college, trade/secondary schools, and continuing education, but not four-year undergraduate programs. Please confirm.
Answer 66: Undergraduate programs that achieve the objectives of the subtopic are acceptable approaches.
Question 67: Will letters of support be accepted with concept paper submissions? Letters of support are listed in the Full Application, but they are not referenced in the concept paper section.
Answer 67: There are no restrictions to what content is provided as part of a concept paper.  However, concept papers are limited to 4 pages in length (see section IV.B.i - Concept Paper Content Requirements).  Per section IV - Application and Submission Information, pages that exceed the page limitation will be disregarded and not considered in the evaluation.
Question 68: Is there a requirement that the lead organization must incur 50% or greater of the Total Project Cost?
Answer 68:

The FOA does not state a requirement amount for participation of the lead (prime) organization.  However, note that the team structure/organization (as a whole) is part of the evaluation process (see Technical Review Criteria of section V.A.ii - Full Applications).  In general, this would include the ability of the lead (prime) organization to successfully manage and conduct the overall approach proposed. 

Question 69: It feels unclear as to how any intellectual property that is developed by our company would be treated if we were to receive funding under this offering. Can you please clarify whether the DOE/EERE or any other organization other than my company would claim any ownership or licensing rights to any intellectual property developed under the umbrella of this funding opportunity?
Answer 69:

Ownership of the subject invention is determined by the organization type of the inventor (prime or sub-recipient).  Domestic small businesses, educational institutions, and nonprofits may elect to retain title to their subject inventions.  For other organization types, the government typically obtains title to new inventions.  However, this FOA has been granted a class patent waiver that allows organizations to retain title to their subject inventions.  See section VIII.J - Title to Subject Inventions.  Where the inventor retains their intellectual property, the government retains certain rights (see section VIII.K - Government Rights in Subject Inventions).  Standard Intellectual Property Provisions (section VI.B.xii) for financial assistance awards can be found at Additionally, see Section IV. Part C. xvi. For assistance related to Data Management Plans and Section VI. Part B x.-xii. for more information related to intellectual property.

Question 70: Can the cost of DOE-mandated audits be charged to the BENEFIT grant?
Answer 70: Yes. Per section VIII.P - Annual Independent Audits: Applicants and subrecipients (if applicable) should propose sufficient costs in the project budget to cover the costs associated with the annual audit. EERE will share in the cost of the audit at its applicable cost share ratio.
Question 71: I am writing to inquire what is necessary to be added to the “Teaming Partner List.” Please advise.
Answer 71: Teaming Partner List information can be found in Section I.D. Any organization that would like to be included on this list should submit the following information to with the subject line “Teaming Partner Information”: Organization Name, Contact Name, Contact Address, Contact Email, Contact Phone, Organization Type, Topic/Subtopic Area(s) to which the organization would like to participate, Area of Technical Expertise, and Brief (approximately 200 words or less) Description of Capabilities.
Question 72: How/Where do I get the EERE Exchange Number that is required for each concept paper that we submit?
Answer 72: The FOA document can be found in EERE Exchange at  Exchange will create a control number for each concept paper when an applicant begins the application process in Exchange. The control number will not change and will be used for all parts of the FOA including the full application process. Applicants must include this control number in application documents.
Question 73: Can patent prosecution charges be charged to the BENEFIT grant?
Answer 73:

Please utilize the following website:

… to assist in determination of your answer.

Additionally, please assure you utilize Section VI. Part B. x.-xii., of the FOA as well.

Question 74: Under Topic 2.3, can some of the DOE funding be used as scholarships to trainees during the implementation of the training program developed?
Answer 74:

Please utilize the following website:  

… to assist in determination of your answer.

Question 75: Subtopic 2.1: The solicitation states that “applications are expected to include a financial commitment (e.g. potential purchase order or investor prioritization) that establishes sufficient demand to mass produce highly efficient structures.” Is it sufficient for an application to have a potential investor on the project team, but without a financial commitment purchase, considering current economic uncertainties faced by the building industry?
Answer 75: Applicants should determine the appropriate level of commitment and defend their approach as part of the full application.  Applicants to subtopic 2.1 will be evaluated, in part, based on the strength of the potential commitment to meet objectives of the subtopic.  Applicants to subtopic 2.1 must submit an Investor Commitment Letter as part of the full application (see section IV.C.xvii) and should discuss this commitment in the Technical Volume (see section IV.C.ii).
Question 76: If our team is encouraged to submit a full application (after successful submission and review of concept paper), would it be permissible to change our teaming arrangement for the full application, including having a different entity be the prime applicant (as long as the topic is the same and the lead on the concept paper is still part of the team?)
Answer 76: Yes, the teaming arrangements can be changed from the concept paper to the full application.  However, the application will be evaluated, in part, by the team and resources (amongst other review criteria); and will be analyzed by "the capability of the Principal Investigator(s) and the proposed team to address all aspects of the proposed work with a high probability of success. The qualifications, relevant expertise, and time commitment of the individuals on the team" (see section V.A.ii). 
Question 77: When we submit concept papers are we required to include the application documents below that are listed as “required application documents?” Or are these documents that we would supply if we receive encouragement to proceed after review of our concept papers? Project management Plan Template Statement of Project Objectives SF-424 Budget Justification Template Summary Slide Template FFRDC Work Authorization Disclosure of Lobbying Activites Environmental Questionnaire
Answer 77:

Concept Paper requirements can be found in section IV.B – Content and Form of the Concept Paper.  Each Concept Paper must be limited to a single concept or technology and conform to the 4-page maximum stated in the guidelines.  During the Full Application, you will be required to submit: Project Management Plan Template, Statement of Project Objectives, SF-424: Application for Federal Assistance, Budget Justification Template, Summary Slide Template, FFRDC Work Authorization, Disclosure of Lobbying Activities, Environmental Questionnaire

Question 78: In the concept paper, is it advisable to list budget ranges?
Answer 78:

While the content and form of the Concept Paper does not require proposing a cost share amount during this concept paper submission phase, the EERE Exchange system will require entering a proposed cost share as a step in the submission process. Any proposed cost share at the Concept Paper stage of the application process can be updated or amended at the time of Full Application submission.

Question 79: We have a question regarding 2 CFR 910.360 in the section on page 60 below: Equipment and Supplies To the greatest extent practicable, all equipment and products purchased with funds made available under this FOA should be American-made. This requirement does not apply to used or leased equipment. Property disposition will be required at the end of a project if the current fair market value of property exceeds $5,000. For-profit entity disposition requirements are set forth at 2 CFR 910.360. Property disposition requirements for other non-federal entities are set forth in 2 CFR 200.310 – 200.316. The disposition requirements are unclear, is the material utilized for this project subject to revocation when the project is finished? Or can the field validation and construction remain in title of the organization who created it?
Answer 79: Should a potential Applicant become a Recipient, they will be subject to any applicable regulations and/or terms and conditions of an Award. It is possible that equipment may be discussed during a concept paper phase (as a part of the project's functionality), however, equipment is typically shown in an Applicant's Budget when submitting their proposal/application. If an Applicant is selected, the DOE project team will open up discussions regarding the proposed equipment. These discussions assist in how final property disposition will be handled. There are a variety of scenarios that can occur if the depreciated value of the equipment is above $5,000 at the end of the award. A Recipient can request the "continued use" of equipment for it to remain in place and serve its continued functionality/scope without federal supervision. Other means of disposition may occur, as well (scrap, trade, etc) depending on the nature of the project and depreciated value or condition of the equipment. It should be noted, however, that until the depreciated value falls below $5,000, any property changes after initial disposition (that may be required even after the award has ended) must be brought to the attention of DOE.
Question 80: On p.27, it says, "EERE anticipates making awards that will run up to 36 months in length, comprised of one or more budget periods." May I select 36 months as one budget period, or do I have to break down to 12 months for each budget period?
Answer 80: The project workplan needs to be conducted via multiple budget periods.  Each budget period must coincide with project decision points (see sections IV.C.ii - Technical Volume and  VI.B.xiv - Go/No-Go Review).  Budget periods and corresponding decision points are approximately 12 months in duration and will be used as part of the Federal oversight of the project (see section VI.B.ix - Statement of Substantial Involvement).  Projects are not required to have a duration of 36 months.  A 12-month project, for example, would consist of a single budget period.  The proposed project duration should be commensurate with the approach and may be up to 36 months
Question 81: For subtopic 2.2, the general description includes topics on roof and energy associated with heating, cooling and ventilation. However, later on it says that "acceptable applications under this subtopic include (1) windows, (2) low thermal conductivity insulation and (3) robots for retrofit." Does this mean "acceptable applications only include these three" or "acceptable applications include but not limited to these three"?
Answer 81: The purpose of subtopic 2.2 is to develop and validate high-performance building technologies that reduce building energy use attributed to the building envelope (e.g., thereby resulting in a reduction in HVAC energy use and HVAC system requirements). Improvements to HVAC systems themselves are not a part of this subtopic area and are covered under other subtopics.  Proposed approaches to subtopic 2.2 are not limited to the three examples as noted in the question.
Question 82: FOA Section IV.xiv Waiver Requests: Foreign Entities and Foreign Work (if applicable); subsection 2 - Performance of Work in the United States (Foreign Work Waiver): This section states that ‘all work under EERE funding agreements must be performed in the United States.’ If a foreign entity (for example - entity in Canada) is providing in-kind cost share to a project under this FOA and performing all their work outside the US and at their own expense, are they considered to be performing work “under an EERE funding agreement?”
Answer 82: Yes.  In the example provided, they are considered performing work under the agreement.  All work under an award, regardless of its funding source (Federal or cost share), must be conducted within the US or may be conducted outside the US with an approved waiver.
Question 83: Under this FOA, is a subcontractor also considered a subrecipient? The subcontractor is intended to be a service provider under the program. Is a separate the Budget Justification required for subcontractors in this case?
Answer 83:

As per Appendix R – Glossary, a subrecipient differs from a subcontract. A subrecipient is a non-federal entity that receives a subaward from a pass-through entity to carry out part of a federal program. A subrecipient will be required to adhere to DOE flow down provisions. Applicants must provide a separate budget justification for each subrecipient that is expected to perform work estimated to be more than $250,000 or 25 percent of the total work effort (whichever is less). A subrecipient may provide cost share and is a likely benefactor to the project, as well.

A subcontractor is easily defined as a Vendor. A Vendor is an entity who provides a service. These services would be typical to their function as an entity and provides a specified service in support of the research, not directly responsible to the sponsor for the research or for determining research results, entity markets its services to a range of customers, including those in non-academic fields, etc.

Vendors/subcontractors may not provide cost share. Any partial donation of goods or services is considered a discount and is not allowable. A Prime is not required to produce a separate budget justification for a Vendor/subcontract, however, needs to include them on the Contractual line of their (Prime) Budget Justification. However, should an Applicant receive an Award and become a Recipient, the assigned DOE project team reserves the right to inquire further regarding the Vendor/subcontractor during the negotiation phase.

Question 84: The Project Management Plan (PMP) is listed as a required document, but the NOFO also states it is required for applicants which are selected for award negotiations. So it is not required with the initial application, correct?
Answer 84: As per Section IV. Part C.xix, the PMP is a required document for only those Applicants selected for Award negotiations. If selected, an initial PMP will be due as a first quarter deliverable.
Question 85: If we, as a Prime, are submitting an Application which will require an SF-LLL, will an SF-LLL be required for subrecipients, as well?
Answer 85: As per Section IV. Application and Submission Information part C.xiii., both Prime recipients and subrecipients are required to complete and submit SF-LLL, “Disclosure of Lobbying Activities.
Question 86: Our company has been approached about joining a team that is preparing a full application in response to DE-FOA-0002196. The concept paper was submitted by a different organization and has been encouraged for a full application submission. However, the situation has changed and our organization is now planned to join the project and take over as the lead applicant. Much of the project team remains the same but the lead applicant will now be different. After reviewing the Q&A document it does appear that this is allowed but my question is how would this be handled in the EERE-Exchange submission system? We did not submit the concept paper so how would we be able to proceed with the submission of a full application in this case? Since my organization did not submit the concept paper it is not in our list of submitted concept paper. Is there a mechanism to allow for this?
Answer 86: In Exchange this can be accomplished with the “Share Permissions” function.   The owner of the original concept paper will need to go to the Concept Paper and share permissions to someone from the new organization.   The lead organization can then be changed on the Full Application.  For more info about sharing permissions, see the user guide EERE_eXCHANGE_Applicant_Guide_September_2018  at
Question 87: Will SOPO and other supplemental docs be considered when scored by reviewers?
Answer 87:

Yes.  Several of the supplemental documents, identified in Section IV.C.i, will be considered in evaluating full applications.  In some cases, such as the SF-LLL Disclosure of Lobbying Activities, these documents are administrative and will not be reviewed as part of the technical evaluation (see Section V.A.ii).  Primary documents that may be included in the technical evaluation include, but aren’t limited to, the Technical Volume, Resumes, Letters of Commitment, Statement of Project Objectives, U.S. Manufacturing Plan, and Investor Commitment Letter, all where applicable.   

Question 88: Should projects addressing 2.3 (Workforce development) respond to “Technology Transition Plan: “ within the Technical Volume?
Answer 88: Yes.  For subtopic 2.3 (Workforce development) the curricula, tools, and other resources proposed would be considered the  “technology”.  The applicant should detail a plan that addresses the criteria of the Technology Transition Plan to meet the goals and objectives identified in the subtopic description
Question 89: Is this section “For multi-organizational or multi-investigator projects, describe succinctly:” under Technical Qualifications and Resources necessary for 2.3?
Answer 89: This is necessary for any proposed workplan that includes multi-organizational or multi-investigator approaches, regardless of the subtopic.  For organizations with a single organization and investigator, this would not be necessary.  These specific sub-criteria are meant to detail how a multi-organization team will function to achieve the workplan’s objectives.
Question 90: The review criteria, consistent with the rest of the application, is not fully relevant to Subtopic 2.3 (workforce). Will the same criteria be used to evaluate all projects, or will there be different, or supplemental, criteria applied to the review of applications responding to Subtopic 2.3?
Answer 90: Yes.  The same criteria will be used.  For subtopic 2.3 (Workforce development) the curricula, tools, and other resources would be considered the “technology”.  In that context, the evaluation criteria should be addressed.  For example, technical risks for workforce development will be different from other subtopics.  However, there are still risks to achieving the objectives of the proposed workplan that must be identified and addressed.
Question 91: Where can the following be located in EERE Exchange: - Statement of Project Objectives (SOPO) (Microsoft Word format. 5 page limit; template available in EERE Exchange) - SF-424 Application for Federal Assistance (PDF format; template available in EERE Exchange) - Budget Justification (Microsoft Excel format. Applicants must use the template available in EERE Exchange)
Answer 91: When in ExChange, an Applicant solicits/queries “DE-FOA-0002196”, an Applicant should locate the “REQUIRED APPLICATIONS DOCUMENTS” Section. In that Section, underneath, an Applicant should select “View Required Application Documents” which will reveal documents for Full Application. 
Question 92: As per Section IV. Part C.x. regarding Subrecipient Budget Justification, an Applicant must provide a separate budget justification for each subrecipient that is expected to perform work estimated to be more than $250,000 or 25 percent of the total work effort (whichever is less). Theoretically, does an Applicant/Subrecipient need to submit a budget justification if the federal dollars is below $250,000 but applicable cost share (cash or in-kind) surpasses $250,000 when combined?
Answer 92: Yes, the DOE does not differentiate between federal and non-federal monies. Should a Subrecipient surpass $250,000 either federally only and/or a combination of federal/non0federal, a budget justification is required.
Question 93: If an FFRDC is the prime applicant, shall the budget values be included in the Prime section or the FFRDC section of the budget table included on the Summary Slide?
Answer 93: If a DOE/NNSA FFRDC is eligible as a Prime Applicant, they should list their budget values as the Prime. If possible (editable), please put (FFRDC) beside the “Prime”. Should a FFRDC become a Recipient and receive and Award, the DOE will negotiate and handle the funding to the FFRDC as designated in FOA.
Question 94: There seems to be two contradictory statements (page 50) regarding how to properly format the FOA: "The SOPO, including the Milestone Table, must not exceed 5 pages.... Past FOAs have included milestones in the SOPO. Applicants whose full applications are selected for award negotiations will be required to submit a Project Management Plan (PMP)(see section IV.C.xix). For this FOA, milestones will be incorporated into the PMP rather than the SOPO." Where should the milestones be addressed? In the SOPO or the PMP?
Answer 94: The milestone table is not included in the SOPO.  It will be incorporated into the PMP.  This will be corrected in Modification 001.  Applicants are reminded that they must fully detail their proposed milestones in the technical volume of the Full Application (see section IV.C.ii).  Proposed milestones remain part of the technical review (see section V.A.ii).
Question 95: As part of the research work anticipated for our project there could possibly be Hot Water Heaters (HWH) purchased and installed in residential and commercial dwellings. The residential units would be less than $5,000, however, the commercial units would be over $5,000. Qa. That said, is it allowable to utilize Federal funds to purchase HWH? Qb. If so, can these units remain where they are installed and be turned over to the owners of the residence and the owners of the commercial buildings?
Answer 95:

Aa.For this scenario, regardless of budget category, if the HWH are a part of the scope of work being proposed, then an Applicant may do so. All costs will be reviewed for allowability, allocability, and reasonableness in accordance with the applicable federal cost principles as described in Section IV.I.i. of the FOA.

Ab.Should an Applicant become a Recipient, you as the Recipient will be required to track real property. This will require accounting for items such as purchase price, depreciation method, and eventually a remaining life/salvage value at the end of the Award. Property disposition will be required at the end of a project if the current fair market value of property exceeds $5,000. Therefore, any equipment that has a fair market value lower than $5,000 at the close of the Award is of no interest to the Government. For those items above $5,000 at the close of the Award, the Recipient reserves the right to request “continued use” (i.e.- turned over) during disposition for the Government’s consideration. 

Question 96: Is there a cap for a percentage of funds that should go to subcontractors and FFRDCs on a BENEFIT proposal?
Answer 96: The FOA includes limitations on some organization types to propose as recipients (see section III.A – Eligible Applicants).  There are no other restrictions/limitations on the amount of effort conducted by eligible application participants.  However, as addressed in several prior questions, there are unique roles expected of the prime recipient for an award.  Among these, the prime recipient is responsible for the overall management and conduct of resulting awards.  The prime is also responsible for flowing down contractual terms to all subrecipients.  As part of the full application technical review, the proposed teaming structure will be evaluated based on the ability to achieve the objectives and goals of the FOA, subtopic, and specific approach (see Technical Review Criteria of section V.A.ii - Full Applications).
Question 97: Is it acceptable to submit a proposal with more than 50% of the requested funds going to a FFRDC rather than the lead organization?
Answer 97: I cannot seem to locate by running queries in the FOA on (FFRDC, percentage, exceeds, etc) to find the language where we discuss caps/percentages of work or cost performed limitations for Subs (inclusive of FFRDC).  The FOA includes limitations on some organization types to propose as recipients (see section III.A – Eligible Applicants).  There are no other restrictions/limitations on the amount of effort conducted by eligible application participants.  However, as addressed in several prior questions, there are unique roles expected of the prime recipient for an award.  Among these, the prime recipient is responsible for the overall management and conduct of resulting awards.  The prime is also responsible for flowing down contractual terms to all subrecipients.  As part of the full application technical review, the proposed teaming structure will be evaluated based on the ability to achieve the objectives and goals of the FOA, subtopic, and specific approach (see Technical Review Criteria of section V.A.ii - Full Applications).
Question 98: Is it acceptable to include a TBD subrecipient in the proposal if a specific subcontractor has not been determined by the proposal deadline?
Answer 98:

There is nothing in the FOA that would restrict having TBD participants in the project.  However, this may impact the merit review of a full application.  The degree of impact would be relative to how critical the role of the unidentified participant is to the achieving the overall objectives of the approach.  Additionally, this may have other impacts to the application, such as the overall project budget.  It may also affect potentially necessary application components such as letters of commitment, FFRDC work proposals, and foreign work waivers.

Question 99: For a full application under subtopic 1.7, lighting integration technologies may benefit both commercial and industrial facilities. Would value propositions targeting industrial building lighting applications be considered unfavorable or non-responsive?
Answer 99: There are no restrictions on industrial building applications for lighting integration technologies.   As with all applications to Lighting-Building Integration, the applicant is expected to address affordability, lighting application efficiency, grid energy reduction, demand flexibility, and occupant comfort and well-being.  In addition, the applicant should make the case for their approach in the technical volume while addressing the technical review criteria in Section V.A.ii.
Question 100: I am a lead PI of a concept paper that has been encouraged to submit a full proposal which has its own control number. At the same organization, I have a co-PI who also submitted a concept paper on the same subtopic but a completely different idea and a different team. This was also encouraged. Can this co-PI be a part of a full proposal on my team and also submit a second full proposal on the same subtopic as a lead PI with a different team and idea?
Answer 100:

An entity may submit more than one Full Application to this FOA, provided that each application describes a unique, scientifically distinct project that is not dependent or contingent upon another application.  Each application will be evaluated based on the capabilities of the proposed team to address all aspects of the proposed work, as well as the level of participation by project participants.  Applicants within a single entity may work on more than one full application/project, with care taken that overlap between the two does not occur, and hours billed are commensurate to each project (assuming both applications were selected).

Question 101: I’m preparing a DOE BENEFITS grant proposal with personnel from a foreign entity (international university), who doesn’t have a physical presence in the United States. A United States University will be the prime recipient and I will represent the United States University as the PI of the proposal. The main body of work will be done in the USA by graduate students and myself, as the PI, but foreign collaborators will contribute to experimental design, and some other intellectual work. Can foreign collaborators still receive funding as a subrecipient even though the foreign entity doesn’t have a location in the USA?
Answer 101: A foreign entity may receive funding as a subrecipient (Section III.A.iii).  There may be limited circumstances where it is in the interest of the project to perform a portion of the work outside the United States.  Applicants must submit a written foreign work waiver request to EERE, and must demonstrate that the waiver would further the purposes of the FOA and is in the economic interests of the United States (Section IV.I.iii.3)
Question 102: Regarding the Investor Commitment Letter (Subtopic 2.1), what level of “commitment to purchase” is expected? How "loose" can this "potential" wording be in a letter or commitment? Is there a recommended strategy to convince partners to commit?
Answer 102: It is up to the applicant to determine this level of commitment and to justify the approach in their application. The strength of the commitment, along with the planned approach to implement it, will be taken into consideration as part of the application review. As stated in the subtopic description, the intent of this requirement is to establish sufficient demand to mass produce highly efficient structures.
Question 103: Should a SF-LLL be submitted in the full application if there are not any Lobbying Activities?
Answer 103: Yes. It is still a required form. Simply mark N/A for any fields or markings that are not applicable and then assure to sign the form.
Question 104: Is the Environmental Questionnaire required by all participants at the time of proposal submission? Additionally, the FOA includes an environmental questionnaire template in Exchange. Is this required as part of the full application?
Answer 104: The FOA states that an environmental questionnaire will be required for applications that are selected for award negotiation.   Similarly, the Project Management Plan will be required after selection.  Templates of these were provided in Exchange under the Required Application Documents to allow the applicant to understand the requirement and to build them into their project management.   These files are not required with the full application.  For a listing of required application documents, see section IV.C.i - Full Application Content Requirements.  Applicants are encouraged to understand the NEPA requirements that will be required of them if selected and that may be considered as part of their selection.   See sections and I.ii.1.
Question 105: On the Detailed Budget Justification Form, EERE 335.1, is the Award Number the same as the Application Control Number? Additionally there is a reference (upper right corner of this document) that reads “OMB Control Number 1910-5162”. Is this relevant to an Applicant?
Answer 105: The “Award Number” is the same as the “Application Control Number”. An Award Number is only given/generated if an Applicant is selected as a Recipient. The “OMB Control Number” is relevant to the document, only. It is a number given by OMB to documents. This number has no affect nor needs edited by an Applicant.
Question 106: Can projects have a effective date later than October 1, 2020
Answer 106:

If an Applicant is selected for Award, Applicants may aim to negotiate and be granted a later than anticipated Effective Date. However, if required by fiscal appropriations, the DOE integrated project will not jeopardize allocating funding prior to the end of a respective fiscal year. This could result in a conditioned Award in order to allocate the funding and then revisit removing the conditions through a definitization process. For proposal purposes, please use a 10/1/2020 start date, with the understanding that this may be subject to change.

Question 107: Under subtopic 2.3, does an Applicant need to have a validation period at the very beginning of the award? Does an Applicant need a period at the beginning where it shows that we can replicate prior successes in developing curriculum?
Answer 107: The validation would occur after initial development of the curriculum and is expected to be a continuous process.  For the purposes of the proposed approach, the Applicant should propose a plan that includes a strategy to validate and improve course content and methodologies. 
Question 108: In the SF-424 form, what is the "Federal Entity Identifier” in Block 5a?
Answer 108: Block 5a is not a required field for the SF-424 Form.
Question 109: Can supplies, equipment, and contributed time be considered allowable cost share from subcontractor, subrecipient, or outside third parties?
Answer 109: Firstly, please assure Section III. Part B. of the FOA is thoroughly read. Secondly, cost share must come from non-federal sources (unless otherwise allowed by law). Cost share may be produced by Prime, subrecipient, and/or third parties. Subcontractors, otherwise known as “Vendors” may not produce cost share.  Supplies, Equipment, and Contributed time may be presented as cost share, however, cost sharing is subject to the guidelines set forth in the FOA but also the Code of Federal Regulations
Question 110: Are Letters of Commitment required from all subrecipients, including FFRDCs, who are not providing cost share?
Answer 110: As per Section IV. Part C.iv. of the FOA, LOC’s are a requirement if the subrecipient or third party is providing cost share. However, a non-cost share providing subrecipient or third party retains the option to produce a LOC supporting their scope of work.
Question 111: In regards to the required information for the Summary Slide (Section IV. Part C.ix.): Page 51 of the FOA states that the Summary Slide template requires the following information: • A technology or approach summary; • A description of the technology’s or approach’s impact (clearly summarize the expected outcome or public benefit resulting from the project); • Proposed project goals; • Any key graphics (illustrations, charts and/or tables); • The project’s key idea/takeaway; • Project title, control number, prime recipient, Principal Investigator, and Key Participant information; and • Requested EERE funds and proposed applicant cost share. However, the Summary Slide Template linked in the Required Application Documents section of the DE-FOA-002196 is a revised version of the Summary Slide template doesn’t include certain sections outlined on page 51 of the FOA. The revised “rev4” version of the Summary Slide Template only contains fields for the following information: • Project title, control number, prime recipient information • Principal Investigator • Key Partners • Proposed Duration • Requested EERE funds and proposed applicant cost share • Proposed objectives • Project Impact/Takeaway • Key Deliverables/Accomplishments In turn, can you provide clarity to what the required elements are of the Summary Slide?
Answer 111: The template provided for the Summary Slide is a skeleton/outline that contains most elements needed for a Summary Slide. This skeleton/template is to be used to assist in the creation of the document. The Summary Slide should contain the elements set forth in Section IV. Part C.ix. The purpose of the Summary Slide is to summarize key project attributes as a reference tool. Applicants will not be evaluated based on the slide.
Question 112: May an Applicant propose unestablished rates? Can a Prime or Subrecipient propose a profit margin?
Answer 112:

You may propose unestablished rates (either loaded rates or separate fringe as well as indirect). For proposal purposes, you may simply plug in the percentage’s within the Budget Justification, however, should you be selected for an Award, the integrated project team will request detailed information regarding the rates. They will be thoroughly reviewed. This would apply to the Prime and likely any Subrecipients (dependent upon Subrecipient Award value).

For profit margin, the DOE follows the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for Grants/Cooperative Agreements which differs from the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) for Contracts. Under a Grant/Cooperative Agreement and usage of CFR’s, a Prime or Subrecipient cannot propose profit. A minimal, reasonable profit can be negotiated for a subcontractor who is operating as a Vendor under the Agreement.

Question 113: Within the FOA, under Section IV. Part, the description details about two items: the “424 Application” and the "U.S. Department of Energy Financial Assistance Certifications and Assurances for Use with SF 424". Are both these required and how are they located?
Answer 113: Under Section IV. Part, An Applicant should click the link to access the Certifications and Assurances document. This document is tied to Block 21 of the actual 424 Application. It should be thoroughly reviewed. An “agreed” in Block 21 acknowledges this review/agreement. The 424 application can be found at: under “REQUIRED APPLICATION DOCUMENTS” – “SF-424: Application for Federal Assistance”.
Question 114: Under required documents, the SF-424A (Singular Budget Page) is not listed. Is one required?
Answer 114: The 424a (Singular Budget Page) is now a part of the Budget Justification workbook. As per Section IV. Part C.vii, the workbook can be located at: (and query FOA2196) or more directly at:  under “REQUIRED APPLICATION DOCUMENTS” – “Budget Justification Template”.
Question 115: What is “modified total direct cost” as tied to indirect rate/cost? What is “de minimis” indirect rate selection and how does it function/what are limitations of utilizing it?
Answer 115:

MTDC is the base to which F&A (indirect cost) rates are applied. MTDC means all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each subaward (regardless of the period of performance of the subawards under the award). MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each subaward in excess of $25,000. Other items may only be excluded when necessary to avoid a serious inequity in the distribution of indirect costs, and with the approval of the cognizant agency for indirect costs.

The de minimis rate can be charged at 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC). If utilized, an organization will want to ensure that direct costs of the Federal grant do not already include recovery of indirect costs (double charging) when using the de minimis rate. 2 CFR 200.414(f) should be referenced. Within that regulation, it should be noted that if chosen, this methodology (once elected) must be used consistently for all Federal awards until such time as a non-Federal entity chooses to negotiate for a rate, which the non-Federal entity may apply to do at any time.

Question 116: Resumes — Is there a required format or can we use personal resumes of our team members?
Answer 116: As per Section IV. Part C.iii. of the FOA, instructions should be followed there-in.
Question 117: Letters of Commitment — Is there a required format?
Answer 117: As per Section IV. Part C.iv., of the FOA, instructions should be followed there-in.
Question 118: Summary for Public Release - Where can we find this form?
Answer 118: As per Section IV. Part C.viii. of the FOA, this is not a form and instructions should be followed there-in.
Question 119: Sub Recipient Budget Justification – Where can we find this form?
Answer 119: As per Section IV. Part C.x., a subrecipient budget justification may be applicable. If so, an Applicant should utilize the same workbook that is used for the Prime (Budget Justification Template) which can be located here: under “Required Application Documents”.
Question 120: What is the reference regarding “Authorization from cognizant Contracting Officer”?
Answer 120: If this is in reference to the chart listed under Section IV. Part C.i “Full Application Content Requirements”, the federal agency sponsoring the FFRDC must authorize in writing (via Contracting Officer) the use of the FFRDC on the proposed project and this authorization must be submitted with the application.
Question 121: If we are not a foreign entity, are we subject to Foreign Entity Participation?
Answer 121: As per Section IV. Part C.xvi., all prime recipients receiving funding under this FOA must be incorporated (or otherwise formed) under the laws of a state or territory of the United States. If they are not, they must request a waiver of this requirement and follow further instruction there-in.
Question 122: If our concept involves no manufacturing is a U.S. Manufacturing Plan required?
Answer 122: As per Section IV. Part C.xv., Applicants to all subtopics except subtopic 2.3 are required to submit a U.S. Manufacturing Plan with the Full Application.
Question 123: Data Management Plan — Where can we find this form?
Answer 123: As per Section IV. Part C.xvi., Applicants to all subtopics except subtopic 2.3 are required to submit a U.S. Manufacturing Plan with the Full Application. An Applicant should select one of the template DMP potions listed within the instruction there-in.
Question 124: From the FOA, it states that Go/No-Go Decisions should be included in both the full proposal and SOPO. Feeling redundant, can you please clarify if Go/No-Go decisions can be left out of the full proposal if included in SOPO?
Answer 124: If selected for negotiation, the proposed SOPO will become the starting point for the formal award SOPO.  Therefore, a clean concise SOPO must be provided as a separate document.  The SOPO is meant to detail the work being conducted as well as overall project goals, etc.  The SOPO is not meant to be a justification of why work is being done.  The SOPO must be consistent with the work plan of the Technical Volume.  The Technical Volume would justify the workplan/SOPO by detailing the what, why, how, who, and where.  Therefore, although redundant, Go/No-Go Decisions should be included in both the SOPO and Technical Volume.  The SOPO should only detail the Go/No-Go’s (what) including appropriate metrics.  In the Technical Volume, the applicant should explain/justify the Go/No-Go (what, why, where, how, and who, as relevant).
Question 125: Our organization would like to verify that for the DE-FOA-0002196, the maximum page length/limit for the SOPO for all sections (A, B, C, D and E) is a total of 5 pages max, is this correct?
Answer 125: An Applicant should utilize the SOPO template which contains Sections A, B, C, D, and E. As per Section IV. Part C.v., the SOPO should not exceed 5 pages when printed using standard 8.5 x 11 paper with 1” margins (top, bottom, left, and right) with font not smaller than 12 point.
Question 126: Is a Subrecipient Budget Justification required for a DOE FFRDC National Lab who is performing a portion of the work, in addition to the DOE WP and DOE Authorization Letter?
Answer 126: A Budget Justification workbook (that required by Prime and Subs [that reach the threshold]) for FFRDC’s is not required at the time of proposal. Should an Applicant become a Recipient through Award, the negotiating team may require additional budget details regarding the FFRDC partner.
Question 127: Can a Prime organization utilize an organization as a subrecipient who is also proposing a separate, distinct/unique Application as a Prime?
Answer 127: Yes. However, should both be selected as Prime’s, during negotiation the entities will be subject to certain assurances such as resource capabilities, employees, etc. will not be in excess (i.e. payroll, hours, etc) and the scope will not be strained/hampered.
Question 128: Can Letters of Support be submitted in the same manner, process, and/or location as a Letter of Commitment?
Answer 128: Yes. If only Letters of Support are needed that are non-cost share in nature, an Applicant should follow guidance in Section IV. Part C.iv. of the FOA.
Question 129: As per Section III. Part B.iii. of the FOA, it says: “Any partial donation of goods or services is considered a discount and is not allowable.” Is it correct to interpret this to mean that the Prime can't take credit (as cost sharing) for offering materials at reduced cost or offering a reduction in labor rate (Direct Costs)? If the Prime offers a reduced overhead rate (Indirect Cost Rate), would that be allowable as cost sharing?
Answer 129: Cost share contributions must meet the definition identified in 2 CFR 200 §200.96 and the criteria set forth in 2 CFR 200 §200.306. 
Question 130: In the SF 424 form, Block 19 reads, “Is Application subject to State review under Executive Order 12372”. Are applications under this FOA applicable to E.O. 12372?
Answer 130: As per Section IV. Part H., this FOA is not subject to Executive Order 12372 – Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs.
Question 131: If a Letter of Commitment (cost share related) cannot be supplied from a project partner (official letterhead) due to delays from the health crisis, what should a Recipient do and will it have an effect on merit review?
Answer 131: As with everything else in the FOA, it is up to the Applicant to describe all aspects of their approach.  In this case, you should still detail the partner’s commitment and role in the Technical Qualifications and Resources section of the Technical Volume.  The Applicant can decide how to address the lack of a formal commitment.  We expect evaluators to be understanding to the current circumstances.  We can’t say it won’t affect the overall review, but it should not have a significant, overall impact given all other evaluation criteria.  Additionally, you will be able to respond to any criticism in the “Reply to Reviewer Comments” portion of the FOA. For an Applicant who is selected, the Commitment Letter will be necessary during negotiation prior to any finalization of Award.
Question 132: Does DOE allow "front end loading" of Federal funding (e.g., more funding in Budget Period 1 than Budget Period 2)?
Answer 132: As per Section III. Part B., project cost share must be at least 20% of the total allowable costs for research and development projects (i.e., the sum of the government share, including FFRDC costs if applicable, and the recipient share of allowable costs equals the total allowable cost of the project) and must come from non-federal sources unless otherwise allowed by law (see 2 CFR 200.306 and 2 CFR 910.130 for the applicable cost sharing requirements). Applications submitted under all subtopics, except subtopic 2.3, must meet the 20% minimum requirement. Therefore, it is expected that cost share will be at the required 20% per budget period. However, should an Applicant determine that a front loading system (higher federal cost/lower non-federal cost, initially) is valuable and necessary as tied to the project’s objectives, it can be considered. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to show the benefit of this request.
Question 133: If a potential subrecipient has lobbied and/or hired lobbyist for entirely other work outside of a potential BENEFIT (this FOA) (sub)recipient agreement (never using federal funding for those activities), does a potential subrecipient need to submit a SF-LLL Disclosure of Lobbying Activities
Answer 133:

As per Section IV. Part I.viii., Recipients and subrecipients may not use any federal funds to influence or attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, congressional action on any legislative or appropriation matters.

Furthermore, the SF-LLL Disclosure of Lobbying Activities is utilized to ensure that non-federal funds have not been paid and will not be paid to any person for influencing or attempting to influence any of the following in connection with the application:

• An officer or employee of any federal agency;

• A Member of Congress;

• An officer or employee of Congress; or

• An employee of a Member of Congress.

This document is to ensure that none of these have occurred in connection with the Application.