Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits for my students?

Students will be eligible to receive scholarship awards of up to $50,000 per student team. Students will also have the opportunity to develop and practice project management, leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. They will also have to opportunity to learn more about energy careers, building science, energy efficiency, and continuous improvement. Engineering students may also be involved in estimating project cost and energy savings, implementation costs, and return on investment. Certified Energy Manager technical assistance and educational/student support is also provided under the E-Challenge at no cost to the university.

What are the benefits for the University?

A start-up grant of up to $20,000 is provided to assist with the administrative costs (faculty, staff, or student time, and/or materials) of creating a Strategic Energy Plan. The E-Challenge also provides no-cost Certified Energy Manager technical assistance as well as Strategic Energy Plan tools including:

  • Energy Management Toolbox
    • Energy use, cost, and performance tracking and benchmarking
    • Energy efficiency Project identification and tracking
    • Goal setting and progress tracking
  • Energy Management Handbook Development Guide
    • Information to help universities/colleges lay out their plan with real world examples of University Strategic Energy Plans

Universities and Colleges who submit comprehensive plans will also be awarded the chance to participate in DTE’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Program for 12-24 months. The program includes:

  • Continued no-cost technical assistance
  • Energy performance model and tracking
  • Up to $23,000 in incentives (per building included in the plan)
    • $13,000 Energy savings incentives ($0.04/kWh and $0.30/Therm)
    • $10,000 SEM staffing grant activities
  • 2% to 5% Savings

How will students be involved?

Students will be involved throughout the process of creating a plan through the E-Challenge. They can also be involved in Campus Energy Teams once the university or college has begun implementation of their plan (post E-Challenge). A few examples of tasks students will participate in are below:

  • Gathering and inputting energy and building data in the EM Toolbox (excel based workbook)
  • Analyzing trends, establishing metrics, uncovering variables that affect energy use
  • Benchmarking buildings on campus against one another and against peer institutions
  • Performing building walkthroughs using the best practice lists to score buildings and identify potential energy efficiency projects
  • Engineering analysis of potential projects (optional)
  • Setting baselines and energy waste reduction goals
  • Drafting the Energy Management Plan

What kind of students should I target?

  • Universities should target both undergraduate and graduate level engineering students
  • Community colleges should target engineering feeder programs such as general science, applied science, or technology
  • Undergraduate students and community college students can assist with data gathering, data input, and building walkthroughs
  • If you have graduate students, they should lead any engineering and energy analysis; however, this is not required as part of the E-Challenge

What are the requirements to participate in the Strategic Energy Plan program during the E-Challenge?

A university or college can participate in the Strategic Energy Plan program without having a DTE account. The only requirement is to complete the E-Challenge application. A college or university may have a mix of buildings with and without DTE service or no buildings with DTE service. However, at least one building with DTE service is required to receive the start-up grant, student scholarships, and to participate in the SEM program.

What are the requirements to participate in the Strategic Energy Management Program awarded after the E-Challenge?

To participate in the Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program a building must have DTE service that is metered at the building as well as a building management system (BMS). A building management system is a computer-based control system that is used to monitor and control mechanical and electric building systems such as lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. Universities can include buildings without DTE service, meters, or a BMS in their plan but these buildings will not be eligible to participate in the SEM program.

What if I do not have any DTE accounts (natural gas or electric)? Can my Students still be involved in the E-Challenge?

Yes, there are two options:

  1. Students can partner with another university or community college, at which point these students can receive a scholarship. The partnering community college or university would be the primary beneficiary of the start-up grant, SEP, and SEM program.
  2. The other option is to participate in the E-challenge without being eligible for an award. Meaning the college or university can create a plan working with DTE Energy Managers under the SEP program. The college or university would derive the benefits from participating in this program and will be providing their students with real-world engineering experience; however, the college or university would not be eligible for the start-up grant, scholarships, or SEM award.


I want to participate in the E-Challenge, but I am struggling to complete required application materials by November 30, 2019. What can I do?

If you are working on gathering the materials necessary to participate in the E-Challenge but are struggling to meet the deadline, please let us know as soon as possible. DTE Energy Managers can help to facilitate meetings with university leadership, identify campus energy team members, and complete the timeline. We may also be able to accept partial applications, on a case-by-case basis, for schools that can demonstrate that they are in the process of completing the work by the end of 2019.