Three Tips to Help Your Inspiring Efficiency Awards Application Stand Out


Each year, the Inspiring Efficiency Awards recognize Midwest leaders who deliver groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency in five categories: Leadership, Education, Impact, Marketing and Innovation. The applications are reviewed and scored by the Inspiring Efficiency Awards Review Committee made up of MEEA staff, members and board members. Last year we received more than 50 applications across the five categories, which means our dedicated committee members can each read several applications throughout the process. What makes a winning IEA application stand above the rest? Here are three tips to help your application wow reviewers.

1. Choose the Right Category – The first step to a great application is making sure you choose the best award category for your program, campaign or strategy. Read the guidelines and questions for each category and decide how your nomination fits in. While you can apply for the same program in multiple categories, each application should be tailored accordingly. Ascertain the program, strategy or campaign fits the framing and guidelines for the award, and be sure to explain who the program or campaign is for and what the outcomes were.

For example, the Education and Marketing Awards can both be given to a campaign or strategy. However, its results for the Education Award should have increased knowledge of and action on energy efficiency, whereas for the Marketing Award, it should have increased the purchase of energy efficient products in your market or changed behaviors in a measurable way. Similarly, the Impact and Innovation Awards both honor a program, campaign or strategy. The application for the Impact Award should focus on the program reducing energy consumption (or another positive impact on health, emissions reductions or energy burden) based on a target market; the Innovation Award, on how a new and innovative program was developed and implemented successfully. There will be impact involved, but the application should focus on whether the work was innovative.

2. Give Background Information – For the reviewers, this may be the first time they are hearing about your program. Help the application reader truly understand what your program, campaign or strategy has accomplished and the effects it has had. Set a scene for why the program or campaign was needed, who was the target audience and the initial goals. Framing the nomination can share the big picture and truly put the outcomes in perspective. Giving thorough background information will help reviewers get a sense of what you were trying to accomplish and a complete narrative for the application.

3. Showcase What Makes It Unique – Don’t hold back on sharing what makes your program, campaign or strategy different! While each award focuses on different categories, be sure to describe what sets your program, campaign or strategy apart from the rest. This may look different depending on the nomination. The target audience, scale of the program or results, campaign delivery method, unique accomplishments or new solutions could all set your nomination apart. Supplemental materials can also add to your application and give context to reviewers. Graphics, evaluation data, videos, flyers and other creative materials are welcome.

The application period for the 2021 Inspiring Efficiency Awards is now open. Application forms are due by COB (5 p.m. CDT) on Friday, September 18, 2020. The program, campaign or strategy being nominated must have taken place within the last two years. Please PDF your application and email it and any supplemental materials to Jen Rhodes at

Interested in joining the Inspiring Efficiency Awards Review Committee? Reach out to Anna Connelly, Membership Associate, at