Learn How to Write a Grant
BY Sandy Lender
It may catch asphalt professionals off guard to find a plant-related product and services gallery introduced by an article about grant-writing. Your average asphalt company owner or CFO may be hesitant to go through the effort of learning how to write a grant, but the skill could take on great importance in the next few months for the for-profit entities in the industrial sector.
Specifically, if your asphalt plant still has room to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, you may be eligible to receive a Department of Energy (DOE) rebate of up to 50% of your costs for engineering and installing advanced technologies that assist in decarbonizing industries within the United States. Within the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) has identified seven sections where the asphalt industry may take advantage of such grant funding opportunities.
This list is sourced from the NAPA document “Key Asphalt Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act,” which you can read in its entirety on the NAPA website under the Advocacy link. I’ll list the section that involves our topic of grant-writing last and remind readers, while its program hasn’t gone into effect yet, preparing for it involves steps that will take some time.
- Section 60112, Environmental Product Declaration Assistance, under which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has up to $250 million in grants for contractors available until Sept. 30, 2031.
- Section 60116, Low-Embodied Carbon Labeling for Construction Materials, under which EPA—in consultation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the General Service Administration (GSA)—has up to $100 million available to it until Sept. 30, 2026.
- Section 60503, Use of Low-Carbon Materials, under which GSA has up to $2.15 billion available until Sept. 30, 2026.
- Section 60504, General Services Administration Emerging Technologies, under which GSA has up to $975 million available until Sept. 30, 2026.
- Section 60506, Low-Carbon Transportation Materials Grants, under which FHWA has $2 billion available until Sept. 30, 2026.
- Section 70006, FEMA Build Materials Program, under which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has its existing budget with no new funding.
- Section 50161, Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program, under which the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstration (OCED) has up to $5.812 billion available through Sept. 30, 2026.
As of Oct. 4, GSA had completed seven paving projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) using new asphalt standards, according to a GSA press release. The administration is seeking input from industry to learn more about the availability of domestically manufactured, locally sourced, low-carbon construction materials.
The press release stated, “The Buy Clean Task Force is prioritizing low-carbon selections for the most carbon intensive materials (concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt) for construction and building projects, which account for 98% of what the federal government spends on construction materials.” To comment, visit the GSA’s Federal Buy Clean Request page or email firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, Nov. 3.
Obviously, the asphalt industry has been implementing environmentally sustainable practices and upgrading systems with advanced “green” technology over the past few decades. As articles in this publication have pointed out, FHWA and various government entities don’t want to see any sector of industry rest on its laurels, but now are willing to, as NAPA’s current vice president of advocacy Jay Hansen repeatedly tells us, incentivize companies to adopt even more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Section 50161 is a prime example of that incentivization, complete with some government bureaucracy to work through. We’ll look at how to make it work over the next few issues of AsphaltPro, and we’ll start with writing grants.
To take advantage of the provisions in Section 50161, you must apply to the DOE for a grant. While the DOE hasn’t put out guidance on the program yet, the equipment manufacturers, additive suppliers and asphalt mix producers need to be ready for when this program takes off in the next few months. The grant money would reimburse the entity up to 50% of the cost to design and/or install advanced technology that is designed to reduce GHG emissions. To apply for a grant, your company must have a unique identifier at SAM.gov and planned unique entity identifier (UEI) at grants.gov. To get the unique identifiers, you must go through an approval process, but the use of these sites is free.
Don’t let this idea of red tape dissuade you from participation. If I may interject a personal anecdote, I’ve participated in non-profit grant-application seminars and in-person round-table discussions to assist sea turtle groups and parrot rescue organizations in finding scraps to keep their doors open. I understand there’s a science to facilitating the application process and an art to writing the grant. It takes a team with different skill sets. It takes time to put it all together. Starting early is one key to success.
Here are some resources for getting that early start rolling:
- Your local community college (The director of my local bird sanctuary took a course from Central Florida University alongside an online course from nonprofitready.org. Such local and online resources are easily searchable.)
- The home page of Grants.gov (There’s a button leading to “Grant Writing Tips.”)
- The EPA’s grant’s page (The slide deck, helpful links, FAQs and recording of the Sept. 13 webinar on Competition Process are available at https://www.epa.gov/grants/competition-process-webinar-september-13-2022.)
Of course, companies aren’t required to apply for reimbursement to implement green technology. As mentioned above, members of the asphalt industry have been upgrading systems and components for decades. But if the government is handing out $5.8 billion for something we already know how to do, why not take the time to jump through the hoops to get some of your monetary investment back as you march ahead on The Road Forward?
In the next few issues of AsphaltPro, we’ll look at how industry might influence what technologies qualify more easily for reimbursement under this grant program, and which might need more explanation in the grant-writing exercise. We’ll also look at which OEMs are on board with assisting you in greening up your facility. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, this month’s product gallery focuses on the plant and production products and services that enhance your bottom line with efficiency and positive sustainability.