The Department of Energy is providing up to $3 million to help American manufacturers leverage energy efficiency as a path to increased competitiveness.

Funded by the Advanced Manufacturing Office and the Building Technologies Program, the money will support a program administrator who will promote and operate the ANSI-accredited Superior Energy Performance  program. Once launched, SEP will provide a clear roadmap to help industrial and commercial facilities achieve continual improvements in energy efficiency. The program also promises to tackle a potential barrier to otherwise profitable energy efficiency investments by providing a transparent, globally accepted system for companies to validate improvements in their energy performance.

Expected to launch by year end, the SEP program, constitutes a key component of DOE's efforts to foster a culture of energy efficiency throughout American manufacturing as one of the pivotal ingredients for a robust clean energy economy. The administrator's primary responsibility will be to develop a business model for SEP to become a fee-based, self-sufficient program within three years of the award so it can operate without the need for financial assistance from the federal government.

The SEP Program is intended to address several fundamental energy management challenges that hinder greater adoption of energy efficiency opportunities within both the industrial and commercial sectors. They include lack of awareness of the energy efficiency opportunities that exist, lack of understanding on how to implement improvements, lack of consistent business models to evaluate the competitive strength of opportunities, and lack of management commitment to manage energy use as an integral part of a company's operations. There are currently 35 companies in 20 states addressing such challenges by participating in SEP industrial demonstration projects.

To meet SEP criteria, a company must do two things. First it needs to implement and conform to the ISO 50001 energy management system standard. Second, it must achieve defined levels of improvement in its energy intensity performance.

The funding is expected to be awarded to at least one entity over a period of up to three years subject to an annual performance review to determine if acceptable progress is being made toward meeting program goals and deliverables. Eligible applicants for this funding opportunity include U.S. domestic entities or consortia composed of academic institutions, non-profits (except 501(c) entities) and for-profit private entities.

For more information and application requirements, or to apply by the 5 p.m., March 21 deadline, visit the Funding Opportunity Exchange website at and click on "Superior Energy Performance Program Administrator."