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2023 Decarbonization Challenge

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Debate 2: 2023-2024 ASHRAE Decarbonization Challenge: Project Review

Sunday, June 23 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

Presenters from each team awarded a Decarbonization Challenge Grant summarize the scope of their project, provide an update on the results of the project to date and share lessons learned and where any open-source resources from the project can be accessed.

*Included in the full conference registration or available as a session for $75. 

Congratulations to the winning chapters!
Thank you to all participants! There were 43 projects submitted from 37 various ASHRAE Chapters.
The following nine projects were awarded grants:


  • Southern California Chapter, in partnership with California Polytechnic State University Student Branch and San Jose Chapter for a project on Sustainable Energy from Organic Waste. The award amount is $2,000.
  • Kansas City Chapter for a project on Educating and Decarbonizing Kansas City Residences With Smarter Appliances. The award amount is $3,800.
  • Cincinnati Chapter for a project on Decarbonizing Historic Houses of Worship Through Localized Heating. The award amount is $4,250.
  • Cedar Valley Chapter for a project on the Ullo Senior High School Solar Water Heating System. The award amount is $7,000.
  • Taiwan Chapter for a Decarbonization Challenge project on Innovative Positive Energy Building with BIPV Systems. The award amount is $9,000.
  • Chennai Chapter for a project on GreenLearn - Primary School Net Zero Carbon Initiative. The award amount is $10,000.
  • Brazil Chapter for a project on SP Net Zero Carbon Buildings in Brazil. The award amount is $9,800.
  • Hamilton Chapter for a project on a Multi-Plenum Fan Array Coupled with Double Skin Façades and Advanced Carbon Bio-fixation. The award amount is $10,000.
  • Nebraska Chapter for a project on Thermal Envelope Improvements at Community Non-Profit. The award amount is $10,000.

 What is Decarb?

Building decarbonization describes methods that reduce human made GHG emissions related to buildings.

For more information and technical resources visit the ASHRAE Task Force for Building Decarbonization website and knowledge hub.

The Challenge

ASHRAE President Ginger Scoggins, P.E. has announced her ‘23-’24 Society theme, Challenge Accepted: Tackling the Climate Crisis. Her plan includes a Decarbonization Challenge Fund, a year-long competitive grant ($1,000 - $10,000) program to implement decarbonization projects within local chapters. This program is implemented through the YEA Committee with grassroots outreach through the YEA chairs/committees at each chapter.

Challenge Timeline

The intent of the program is to receive, review, award, and implement the funded projects within a single society year. Applicants are expected to meet the schedule below, and incorporate the schedule into their proposed projects:

  1. November 30th, 2023: Applications due
  2. January 2024: Awards made with funds going to local chapter for use on the project
  3. January 2024: Winning applicants in attendance at the 2024 Winter Conference in Chicago to be recognized by ASHRAE President Ginger Scoggins at President’s Lunch
  4. January 2024 and June 2024: Projects will be completed
  5. Spring of 2024: Project Teams will be requested to submit a mid-project update with a short narrative and photos
  6. June 2024: Project Teams will be invited to participate in a panel at the 2024 Annual Conference in Indianapolis to discuss the implementation of their Project

Challenge Requirements

Application submissions must meet the following criteria:
  1. The primary applicant must be a Full, Associate, or Affiliate member of ASHRAE.
  2. All mandatory questions within the application must be completed.

 Application Review

Applications are reviewed using a scoring system that awards a dedicated number of points to each question/qualification based on this rubric. Only applications which submit all required documents and information will be considered. Each application will be independently scored by multiple reviewers. Consideration will also incorporate the relative impact to global decarbonization, and the scalability of the project.

Applications closed on December 1, 2023.

 Examples of Eligible Submissions

Decarbonizing the built environment will require an incredibly broad array of actions! Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about their submissions, collaborate with other local engineering and community organizations, and engage industry partners to maximize impact and visibility of ASHRAE decarbonization efforts.

  • A college ASHRAE chapter uses funding to build and test a combination solar hot water heater & oven which can take the place of burning biofuels for communities which do not have access to electrical infrastructure for decarbonizing water and food generation. The design is published as a free open source resource with construction instructional videos provided by the project team.
  • A local consulting firm donates time and expertise to conduct an energy audit of an existing community center. Project funds are used with matching funds from equipment manufacturers & contractors to install recommended equipment resulting from energy audit. Use the project as a community education tool/space for occupants/community members, while reducing operational carbon emissions.
  • A community garden is built with a compost, rainwater harvesting sytem, and/or educational tools for maintenance showcasing the carbon drawdown and community benefit. The funds provided by ASHRAE are matched by a local building supply store, and a local trade school or trade skills program at a High School is engaged to design and construct the gardening and rainwater harvesting systems.

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