Overview & Requirements

About the Program

DTE Energy is partnering with The Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) to recognize and support continuous energy improvement and sustainability at Michigan Universities through the DTE Energy E-Challenge Competition for Colleges and Universities. This competition seeks innovative plans that utilize recognized energy management principles to reduce energy waste at Colleges and Universities in DTE’s service territory. The competition encourages universities to submit a comprehensive five-year energy management plan, using the tools and support provided by DTE Energy’s Energy Smart Team under the DTE Strategic Energy Plan program. The goal is to lay the framework necessary to prioritize energy waste reduction and control energy costs by changing behaviors, identifying opportunities, and making energy choices that align with industry best practices. A set of tools and support from DTE Energy Managers are provided to help universities develop their plan; more information is available here

Energy Management

Creating a mature energy management program involves maturity in seven components. For this E-Challenge, the components are separated into planning and implementation phases; the planning phase will be developed by the university, with support from DTE energy managers through the DTE Strategic Energy Plan program. Each plan will be judged by a panel of experts. Universities with the most comprehensive plans will be awarded support for the implementation phase through the DTE Strategic Energy Management program. More information on DTE’s SEM program can be found here

Below is an overview of the individual components of a mature energy management program (based on ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management, ISO 50001, and Department of Energy’s 50001 Ready program). At minimum, the university’s plan submitted for this E-challenge should accomplish the objectives of the first three components: Make A Commitment, Assess Performance, and Set Goals. More information on support for creating a plan and on judging criteria is available here

E-Challenge awardees are required to work with program administrators to promote the results of the E-Challenge through marketing channels, including sharing energy waste reduction projects, metrics, goals, and production of a case study.

Participants will be required to sign an honor statement affirming the truth and validity of all energy savings claimed.

Start-up Grants

Start-up grants are available to initiate and develop an energy management plan. To receive a start-up grant, a letter of intent can be submitted by a member of university staff or administration within the department/college championing the program. 

The letter of intent must describe how the university plans to use the $10,000 start-up grant as well as how the university will commit to creating an energy management program. Additionally, the university must submit a list of buildings within the scope of their program including addresses and square footages, a list of proposed energy team members and positions, and a complete E-Challenge timeline by November 30, 2019. 

Buildings within the scope of the plan must be located within the college or university campus and at least one of the buildings must be a DTE customer (gas or electric). The final sites included are subject to approval by the program administrators. $100,000 is available for start-up grants with a nominal amount of $10,000 per university. 

Challenge Award & Scholarships

Successful applicant(s) who have developed comprehensive energy management plans are awarded the chance to participate in DTE’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program. DTE’s SEM program is a 12-24-month engagement instilling and promoting energy management best practices.

The SEM program offers free technical support and financial incentives to help you mature your energy management program. This includes:

  • No-cost technical assistance
  • Energy performance model and tracking
  • Up to $23,000 in incentives
  • $13,000 Energy savings incentives ($0.04/kWh and $0.30/Therm)
  • $10,000 SEM staffing grant activities 
  • Process for continuous improvement
  • 2% to 5% energy savings

The top two qualifying energy management plans will automatically be awarded a place in DTE’s SEM program; others will be awarded based on availability. The program administrators reserve the right to award one, multiple, or no plans based on the quantity and merits of submitted plans. Individual or team scholarships of up to $50,000 will be awarded. Scholarships will not be distributed until final case study is completed (approximately June 2020). 

Judging Preferences

Preference will be given to universities with the most comprehensive energy management plans. Preference will also be given to those universities whose plans include:

  • Collaboration with multidisciplinary teams (e.g. students in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, business college and/or business office staff, facility managers, department heads, and professors)
  • Plans that include all large buildings on campus or all buildings on campus
  • Innovative energy saving projects
  • Energy savings projects with estimated cost and savings and those providing less than a three-year ROI
  • Projects that include operational/behavioral changes and equipment replacement are acceptable submittals as well as system efficiency improvements; however, E-Challenge is focused on energy efficiency and energy waste reduction, and therefore renewable or alternative energy projects will not be evaluated by the judging panel
  • Ideas that examine what can be improved within the tools provided by DTE are encouraged, along with improving any existing energy management programs, ideas, or concepts

    Entry Procedures / Judging Process

    To apply for the E-challenge, universities should submit a letter of intent describing how they intend to use the $10,000 start-up grant and how they will commit to creating an energy management program. This letter must be signed by a member of university staff or administration within the department or college championing the program. Additionally, the university must submit a list of buildings within the scope of their program that includes the address and square footage, a list of proposed energy team members and positions, and a complete E-Challenge timeline by November 30, 2019. Download a copy of the E-Challenge timeline template here.

    Universities who submit complete applications will receive a start-up grant to create their energy management plan. These universities will be invited to submit a complete energy management plan for the chance to win a place in DTE’s SEM program and scholarships for students involved in the creation of the plan. The program administrators reserve the right to amend the submission deadlines and award deadlines, as needed.

    All questions and answers will be made public and become part of the public domain by being posted at www.e-challenge.net. Questions can be directed to Leslie A. Smith, CMP, at lsmith@esd.org. All entries must be submitted online by 5 p.m. November 30, 2019.

    Screening of applications will be completed by December 10, 2019. All entrants will be notified, via email, by December 14, 2019. The qualifying entrants may receive a start-up grant and will move on to developing an energy management plan to be judged by a panel of industry experts. Additional details will be provided upon notification.

    Finial submission of the energy management plan including: Energy Management Toolbox, Energy Management Handbook, and any other supporting documents is due March 31, 2020. In May, a finalist or finalists will be chosen to participate in DTE’s SEM program. The top two qualifying energy management plans will automatically be awarded a place in DTE’s SEM program; others will be awarded based on availability.

    Finalists will be recognized at the 2020 DTE/ESD Energy Conference and Exhibition scheduled for Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. Further recognition will be provided by the Engineering Society of Detroit.

    All submitted material becomes the property of ESD and will not be returned (does not imply ownership). 

    Applications will be evaluated by an impartial panel of industry judges chosen by the program administrators. Awards are based on the inherent qualities of each plan as perceived by the judges. All awards of the judges of the program are final unless otherwise determined by DTE Energy at its sole discretion.

    Successful applicant(s) who have developed comprehensive energy management plans are awarded the chance to participate in DTE’s SEM program. The SEM program offers free technical support and financial incentives for implementing their energy management programs.  The program administrators reserve the right to award one, multiple, or no plans based on the quantity and merits of submitted applications. Individual or team scholarships of up to $50,000 will be awarded. Scholarships will not be distributed until final case studies are completed (approximately June 2020).