Energy Efficiency Empowerment (E3) is a fiscally sponsored nonprofit project of New Sun Rising,  founded and directed by Lucyna de Barbaro, Ph.D. She is an expert in energy efficiency, a former manager of Home Performance with Energy Star, and an accredited Home Energy Score assessor and mentor. Lucyna contributes knowledge of the local housing stock, home performance, sustainability-focused specifications, energy assessment, modeling, quality assurance, training, and program management. Her vision is rooted in the desire to find effective solutions to address climate change. She earned her physics Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, NY, and contributed her research and scientific skills to two particle physics experiments at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for over a decade.

In October 2023, the team led by Energy Efficiency Empowerment was named a Phase 1 winner of the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Buildings Upgrade Prize (Buildings UP). The objective of this prize is to support scalable, equitable initiatives and facilitate the transition to energy-efficient and clean energy-ready buildings. More details about the achievement can be found at

Buildings UP offers over $22 million in cash prizes and technical assistance through two pathways: Equity-Centered Innovation and Open Innovation. As participants in the Buildings UP Equity-Centered Innovation pathway, 39 teams across the US, including E3, are set to jointly advance through a 4-year highly structured and NREL-managed journey. This journey focuses on growing capacity, skills, community and stakeholder engagement, braiding funding, and delivering energy efficiency and electrification projects in Justice40 locations. Meeting each year’s milestones promises to unlock an additional $400,000 a year for four years. Learn more about Lucyna’s winning concept here.

Niquelle Abdul-Malak is thrilled to be joining the E3 team! Although originally from New York, Niquelle has happily called Pittsburgh home for over a decade. She is deeply connect to the community that she lives in and neighboring communities where she volunteers. With a background in education and activism, Niquelle brings a variety of skills to the team, such as: developing and managing systems and programs, facilitating meetings and events, collaborating with community partners, and an insatiable desire to read, learn, and experience new things.

As program manger you will find her researching and reviewing grants, supporting E3 staff and collaborators, developing aspects of community-based campaigns, taking copious meeting notes, and designing and implementing systems and procedures. While her professional background is in Education, Niquelle has always had a passion for social and environmental justice and believes the best way to move toward a more equitable and sustainable world is in community with each other. 

New Sun Rising (NSR) strengthens nonprofits, social enterprises, and collaborations through capacity building, accessible funding, and data advocacy. In response to the growing opportunity gap and centralization of wealth created by the current economic system, NSR supports innovative approaches to equitable community development. The Vibrant Communities framework has provided support and training to over 250 nonprofit and social business leaders seeking to improve their communities. NSR has experience combining funding to resource projects, including $3M in federal and county grants to support real estate development, and $2M annually from dozens of funders for 50+ fiscally sponsored projects.

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