Seven teams of university students and professors beat out 65 others in a "sustainability design" competition sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, presenting technologies that ranged from solar ovens to small wind turbines.
"The originality and breadth of these projects demonstrates the high degree of innovation and environmental interest that exists on college campuses today,” E. Timothy Oppelt, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development, said in a statement announcing the winners. “These young students represent the scientific leadership of tomorrow.”
The idea behind the first-ever P3 Award — named for people, prosperity and the planet — is to get students and others to think about how to use energy and other resources in a way that doesn't threaten long-term survival, both in the developed world and in developing nations.
Some 400 students and professors set up their presentations on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the weekend. A panel convened by the National Academy of Sciences judged the competition.
The seven winners were teams from:
- Oberlin College. They designed a system that monitors total energy and water use for individual dormitory floors or an entire college campus.
- Rochester Institute of Technology. Their study looked at how solar ovens could be mass-produced at low cost in Latin America using local resources. The idea is to reduce wood consumption and thus deforestation, while providing local jobs.
- University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Students are measuring the effectiveness of three drinking-water treatment technologies intended for the developing world.
- University of Colorado at Denver. The team looked at Trishul, a tribal village in India, to see if it could adopt environmentally friendly energy technologies, such as small wind turbines, composting and solar cookers. The idea is to use what's learned in other developing areas that lack traditional electricity.
- University of California-Berkeley. Students are testing two designs to disinfect drinking water, and even conducting user preference and willingness-to-pay surveys.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A management model for research labs is being designed that allows labs to use less toxic and less polluting green chemical alternatives.
- University of Michigan. A computer-based tool was developed to let homeowners monitor their resource consumption. Real-time costs and environmental impacts are delivered to then show how conservation actions are reflected in dollars saved and emissions reduced.
Additional background on the awards and presentations is online at www.epa.gov/P3.
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