The Cranberry Islands are located in Frenchman Bay, just a short boat ride from Mount Desert Isla...The Cranberry Islands are located in Frenchman Bay, just a short boat ride from Mount Desert Island, where College of the Atlantic is located. A new energy upgrade program led by COA will help homeowners on Great Cranberry make energy efficiency improvements.

Students trained in energy work will meet with willing residents to suggest energy improvements to their homes and will connect residents with rebate programs and resources to make these improvements at an affordable cost. The students will live on Great Cranberry Island over the summer to do the energy assessments, and immediately following, will bring contractors out to the islands to do the work that homeowners have opted for.

“These improvements, including insulation, heat pumps, and solar power, will help island homeowners transition away from fossil fuels, saving them money in the long run and alleviating concerns associated with infrequent delivery of oil and propane to the islands,” said COA Director of Energy Director David Gibson.

Gibson, along with Campus Climate Action Corps member Rebecca Keller-Tarczy, and COA student Nils Midtun ’24 introduced the program to island residents at a public meeting at the Ladies Aid Community Center. Any Great Cranberry Island resident interested in taking part can contact David or fill out the sign up form. The program will expand to Islesford in 2025.

The Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP) program has awarded more than $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance nationwide to teams developing scalable and replicable initiatives for widespread energy efficiency and efficient electrification building upgrades. These innovative models aim to accelerate greenhouse gas reduction, equity, economic development, and health goals.

“We received an unprecedented number of submissions to this prize, demonstrating nationwide enthusiasm for developing solutions that drive scalable building energy efficiency and electrification upgrades across the country,” said Jeff Marootian, principal deputy assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “No two buildings have the same upgrade needs due to variations in size, use, age, location, and more. Phase 1 winning teams developed robust initiative concepts that center equity and will accelerate energy upgrades in a wide range of buildings. We look forward to seeing these Phase 1 concepts take shape in the next phase of this prize.”

In Phase 1 of Buildings UP, state governments, local governments, tribes, community-based organizations, building owners, utilities, nonprofit organizations, energy efficiency program implementers, and other organizations were encouraged to create cross-sectoral teams and submit concepts to address persistent administrative, financial, social, and other barriers to building energy upgrades.

The multistakeholder teams selected to advance to Phase 2 of the prize will make an impact through their own projects and serve as a blueprint for others across the United States.

“We are thrilled to have so many high-quality concepts move to the next phase of the prize,” said Holly Carr, prize manager, BTO. “Buildings UP was developed as a ‘coopetition’ because we hope teams will work together, rather than compete, to bring as many of their initiatives to life as possible. Through their successes and lessons learned, these teams will make a library of resources available to others developing similar programs.”

Buildings UP was developed and funded by the Building Technologies Office. It is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is part of the American-Made program, which fast-tracks innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring. Buildings UP Phase 1 winners have access to the American-Made Network, connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s national labs and the private sector. Mentoring, tools, resources, and support through the American-Made Network help accelerate the transition of ideas into real-world solutions to achieve clean energy goals. Follow Buildings UP on for all prize-related updates.

Over the last three years, College of the Atlantic has reduced the carbon footprint of their buildings by 50%. This has been achieved by air sealing, insulating, and installing low-flow showerheads, window insulating panels, heat pumps, and heat pump water heaters. More than 20 buildings have been completely transitioned off fossil fuels, and the electricity for campus is nearly 100% solar powered. Through the Buildings Upgrade Prize, the COA Community Energy Center intends to share these methods with the wider community, to accelerate Maine’s clean energy transition.