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green buildings

New Green Design-Build Challenge to promote affordable & sustainable housing

An exciting business opportunity in California is now open for Danish green building stakeholders. The California Energy Commission's (CEC) Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) challenge is looking for net-zero energy, affordable housing projects. Architects, developers and green building technology providers now have a unique chance to secure public funding and expand their base in this expansive and lucrative market.

The design-build challenge offers a new exciting opportunity for companies within green, energy efficient buildings and technologies. The design-build challenge will focus on affordable housing and reduction of carbon emissions in new buildings. This is not only an outstanding opportunity to benefit from public funding for your project in California, but also a highly visible platform to connect with project partners and customers for future growth of your business. Leveraging Denmark’s excellent reputation in sustainable innovation, green building, energy-efficient technologies, and smart urban design, Danish stakeholders are in a perfect position to present themselves as preferred international partners in such developments.

What is EPIC?


The new Electric Program Investment Charge, EPIC Challenge is a design-build challenge, labeled ‘Reimagining Affordable Mixed-Use Development in a Carbon-Constrained Future.’ It offers an opportunity for Danish solution providers within construction, design, architecture, building materials, energy efficiency, and much more to tap into the Californian market for sustainable, low-cost housing solutions. The objective of the program is to address two of California's major political and economic goals: increasing the availability of affordable housing and lowering carbon emissions. The challenge is divided into two phases: a design phase for which applications will be received throughout this summer and fall, and a build phase, for which applications will be accepted late 2021.

The design phase can include a feasibility study, research and selection of distributed energy technologies, micro grid modelling, regulatory and financial planning and an implementation plan. Up to $48 million is being funded through the program, which will be divided between approved proposals for the design and build phases. Projects approved for the design phase are eligible to apply for additional funding for the build phase.

The challenge will be a partnership-based, multi-disciplinary project to design and build a medium-to-high-density mixed-use development that is affordable, equitable, emissions-free, and resilient to climate change impacts and extreme weather events. Specifically, the California Energy Commission, CEC, who manages the EPIC Challenge, is asking for proposals for new, net zero energy developments that span one city block and include a minimum of 50 housing units, of which 20 percent designated low-income housing, as well as retail or office space.


EPIC is open to international stakeholders as long as the organizations involved register with the office of the Secretary of State or partner with companies that are registered. Partnerships spanning a variety of stakeholders, including architects, developers, energy technology experts, community-based organizations, utilities and Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs) and local governments will be reviewed favorably. The awardees of the challenge will not only receive funding for the project - they will get a chance to showcase their ideas and projects at a CEC-sponsored forum, which could lead to pivotal connections and potential investment opportunities.


The rapid growth of highly paying tech jobs, the net influx of residents, the limited availability of space for new developments in highly urbanized areas and congested infrastructure have dramatically increased housing prices in California’s cities, notably including San Francisco and the Bay Area, and Los Angeles. This had led to excesses such as families in San Francisco earning less than $117,000 a year now qualifying for “low-income” housing programs, and one in five California residents spending over half of their income on rent. For state and local governments alike, addressing the housing crisis has become one of their highest priorities.


At the same time, California suffers from very tangible consequences of climate change, such as persistent shortages of fresh water, which accelerates desertification and soil erosion, spurs wildfires and even increases risks of power outages. This created a strong incentive and broadly supported urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  California has proven itself numerous times to be one of the most ambitious states in the U.S. when it comes to climate action, such as its commitment to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. This EPIC challenge is a way for the state to fund some of the aspiring ideas that will push California forward in achieving these goals.

We can help you learn more

Denmark has established a government-to-government cooperation with California on energy and climate where the Danish Energy Agency (Energistyrelsen) partners with the California Energy Commission to share experiences within energy policy and best practices on energy efficiency programs to reduce carbon emissions. This allows the Energy Team at the Consulate General of Denmark in Silicon Valley to help Danish stakeholders who are interested in the energy efficiency and green building sector in California and provide guidance in applying to the EPIC challenge.

The deadline for submitting the first project abstract is October 2020, with final proposals expected to be due December 2020 and awards announced in March 2021. Further details on the EPIC challenge can be found on the CEC website, with further updates to follow. 

The CEC also offers potential bidders and other stakeholders the opportunity to network and find project partners on the platform ‘Empower Innovation.’ 


Out team of dedicated advisors can help you with entering the challenge. Please find relevant contact information below and read more about our Energy Efficiency Advisory here.


Please feel free to reach out to our dedicated advisors to hear more about the competition and how you can participate.