Awards & contests

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) announces the Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) Data Challenge 2014 competition

The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) announces the Toxicology in the 21st Century (Tox21) Data Challenge 2014 competition.

The goal of the challenge is to crowdsource data analysis by independent researchers in order to develop computational models that can better predict chemical toxicity. It is designed to improve current toxicity assessment methods, which are often slow and costly. The model submission deadline is Nov. 14, 2014, 11:59 p.m. ET. NCATS will showcase the winning models in January 2015.

Registration for the challenge and more information can be found at https://tripod.nih.gov/tox21/challenge/.

Tox21 scientists are currently testing a library of more than 10,000 chemical compounds in NCATS’s high-throughput robotic screening system. To date, the team has produced nearly 50 million data points from screening the chemical library against cell-based assays. Data generated from twelve of these assays form the basis of the 2014 challenge.

For more information on the Tox21 Modeling Challenge and Tox21 Program contact:

Anna Rossoshek
rossosheka@mail.nih.gov

9800 Medical Center Drive
Rockville, MD 20850 USA

2014 R&D 100 Award winners announced

The editors of R&D Magazine have announced the winners of the 52nd annual R&D 100 Awards, an international competition that recognizes the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year. Click here to view the full list of this year’s winners.

The R&D 100 Awards recognize excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, high-energy physics, materials science, chemistry and biotechnology. Some winners are established Fortune 500 companies and others are federally funded research institutions, academia and government labs.

The 2014 R&D 100 Awards Banquet and Awards Presentation will take place on November 7, 2014 at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. For information about the event, please visit www.rd100awards.com. To view a full list of overall winners, please view www.rdmag.com/rd-award-winners-archive.

More than 5,500 buildings to compete in EPA’s Fifth-Annual Energy Star Battle of the Buildings

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the 2014 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings: Team Challenge. More than 5,500 buildings nationwide are going head-to-head to reduce their energy use. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for businesses to cut in half the amount of energy they waste over the next 20 years, the competition specifically targets wasted energy in commercial buildings, and will motivate businesses to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money.

“The competitive spirit is alive and well among the building teams working to improve their energy efficiency in this year’s Battle of the Buildings,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “After four successful years, we’re excited to see the innovative ideas that will emerge from the competitors as they find new ways to save energy and money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment.”

In the only coast-to-coast competition of its kind, dozens of different types of commercial buildings are facing off in this year’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings. This year’s theme, “Team Challenge,” features teams of five or more buildings who will work together to reduce their collective energy use as much as possible over the course of a year. For example, “Team Staples” includes 17 Staples stores, while 15 Whole Foods stores will support each other as part of “Team Whole Foods Market.” In New Castle County, Del., 13 elementary schools will compete as part of a team, and they’re going up against their county’s five middle schools and six high schools. In Hillsborough County, Fla., fire stations will team up to compete against libraries.

This year marks the fifth year that EPA has hosted the Battle of the Buildings. The competition—and positive environmental impacts—have grown exponentially since that time. Altogether, last year’s competitors saved an estimated $20 million on utility bills. Nearly 50 buildings in the competition demonstrated energy use reductions of 20 percent or greater.

Commercial buildings in the United States spend more than $100 billion in annual utility bills and are responsible for approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By improving the energy efficiency of the places they work, play, and learn, the competitors will save energy and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Competitors will measure and track their buildings’ monthly energy consumption using EPA’s online energy measurement and tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Building teams will work to optimize or upgrade equipment, retrofit lighting, and change occupants’ behaviors—all with help from Energy Star. The team that reduces its buildings’ average energy use the most, on a percentage basis over a 12-month performance period, will be declared the winner. In addition to the team competition, 700 individual buildings are also competing in a special water reduction category, and will work with EPA’s WaterSense program to apply best practices for commercial building water management.

EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their starting, midpoint, and final standings, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress and an interactive map of the competitor’s locations. Midpoint results will be posted in October, with the winner announced in April 2015.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.8 billion sold. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star label.

More information on the competition: http://www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings

Climate Change Isn’t Man Made? Prove It for $10,000

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

Naysayers, you’re on. If you’re convinced that climate change isn’t man-made, a physicist in Texas wants to hear from you. Bring your virtual chalk, polish up your math, hone your argument and prove your point. Your time won’t be misspent: If you can irrefutably prove your hypothesis, he’ll pay you $10,000.

Dr. Christopher Keating, author of “Undeniable: Dialogues on Global Warming,” has offered the challenge to anyone who can “prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is not occurring.” Keating, who is well versed in climate change research, has taught at the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

CEI Award for Incorporation of Sustainability into Chemistry Education

As part of the American Chemical Society’s goal to “Advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people”, the Society’s Committee on Environmental Improvement seeks to recognize those individuals or groups who have made exemplary contributions to the incorporation of sustainability (see note below) into chemical education.

A goal of the recognition program is to encourage dissemination of the important work of creatively incorporating sustainability into chemical education. Therefore, awardees will be expected to present invited talks on their work as part of a symposium on Chemistry Education and Sustainability at the 2015 Spring National Meeting to be held in Denver. It is anticipated that four to six different projects will be recognized, with each awardee receiving $750 towards travel costs of attending the Denver meeting.

Both third party and self-nominations are encouraged. Nominations should clearly demonstrate how the nominee or nominees have contributed to the effective incorporation of sustainability into chemical education. The target audience for the work can be one or more of the following: K-12 students, undergraduate students, graduate students, or the general public.

Nominations will be evaluated on the broad criteria of innovation, intellectual merit, and potential for broader impact. Additional important considerations include the extent to which sustainability is an important component of the education work, the extent to which the work supports learning of chemistry, and the overall quality of the design of the nominated work.
All nomi nations must be submitted via email by Friday, August 29, 2014 to Ray Garant at r_garant@acs.org.

Completed nominations must include the following information:

  • Full contact information (mailing address, phone number, email address).
  • A title and abstract of no more than 150 words.
  • A statement of no more than 500 words regarding the learning objective(s) for the work nominated, the target audience, and how sustainability has been incorporated.
  • No more than 10 pages of supporting material (lab handout, class activity handout, descriptive materials, etc.).

Individuals submitting nominations are also strongly encouraged to review the additional information that can be found online at http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/about/governance/committees/cei.html.
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National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition: Six Regional Winners Advance to Final Round

Via the EERE Blog.

Anticipation for the final round of the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition is growing. For the past two months, winners of six regional contests throughout the country have been crowned after facing intense competition and judging panels of industry and financial experts. These regional finalists will go on to compete in the third annual national competition in Washington, D.C. on June 11 and 12.

The national competition aims to promote entrepreneurship in clean energy technologies that will boost American competitiveness, bring cutting-edge clean energy solutions to the market, and strengthen economic prosperity. Six regional organizations have received a total of $2 million over three years to host the competitions, including $100,000 in annual prizes for each regional competition’s winning team.

The following six teams will now have the opportunity to compete in the third annual National Competition, where they compete for unique technical, design, and legal assistance to help commercialize their technology.

Western Southwest Region — Rice Business Plan Competition run by Rice University

Ohio State University, KAir Battery

KAir Battery develops clean, energy efficient, and cost-effective large-scale stationary potassium-air (K−O2) batteries. These batteries could support renewable energy systems by storing excess power and distributing it at times of peak consumer demand. According to KAir, these batteries store generated electricity and return 98% of the input energy.

Southeastern Region — ACC Clean Energy Challenge run by University of Maryland

Georgia Institute of Technology, Energy Internet

Energy Internet has developed a new approach and solution to address cyber and control challenges facing the power grid with a decentralized, autonomous, Internet-like control architecture and a learning control software system. This distributed control architecture is designed to help integrate significantly more renewable energy into the grid.

Eastern Midwest Region — Clean Energy Trust Clean Energy Challenge run by Clean Energy Trust

Michigan State University, Black Pine Engineering

Black Pine Engineering’s technology, the Woven Wheel System, is an advanced turbomachinery system composed of carbon fiber, used for retrofitting geothermal power plants. Geothermal plants waste a portion of well steam due to steam compressors that remove harmful gases. The Black Pine Engineering system replaces current plant equipment with their advanced modular compressors, and eliminating steam loss.  According to Black Pine, the technology can boost power generation at geothermal plants by 8% and increase revenue by more than $280,000 per year per well.

Western Midwest Region — CU Cleantech New Ventures Challenge run by University of Colorado-Boulder

University of Colorado-Boulder, Superior Ecotech

Superior Ecotech develops technology that uses algae to convert carbon dioxide waste into omega-3 oils and other useful products during the process of making beer, which lowers carbon emissions for craft brewers. The team’s long-term goal is to use its algae oils to produce clean, cost-effective, and renewable biofuels.

Northeast Region – MIT Clean Energy Prize run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Unified Solar

Unified Solar developed an integrated circuit solution for maximum power point tracking at cell-level granularity, reducing energy loss for solar panels. Solar panel systems with central inverters suffer from the “Christmas tree” or “weakest link” effect—when a shaded or dirty panel reduces the output of every other panel on a string. Panels using Unified Solar’s technology effectively behave as a single “super-cell,” which solves the weakest-link challenge. Unified Solar claims its technology doubles the average energy capture for less than a third of the price of current solutions.

Western Region — First Look West run by California Institute of Technology

University of Houston, REEcycle

REEcycle reclaims rare earth elements from magnets in electronics, creating a sustainable supply of critical components. Rare earth elements are critical to manufacturing clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, energy-efficient lights, thin-film solar cells, and motors and batteries for electric vehicles. The company acquires used electronics from recyclers and extracts REEs using its patented solvent combined with low temperatures. REEcycle claims that its process is much less hazardous and significantly less expensive than current reclamation methods.

In the competition’s first two years, 600 teams participated in six regional competitions, and those teams have incorporated 57 startups – creating more than 120 full time jobs and attracting almost $26 million in follow-on private and public sector funding.  Register to attend the event now and learn more about the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

Ohio EPA Recognizes Six Companies with Environmental Excellence Awards

On May 14, 2014, Ohio EPA announced it awarded six companies with the 2014 Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Silver Awards. The E3 program recognizes organizations committed to environmental excellence and provides different recognition levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Silver Award recipients have demonstrated a commitment to go beyond compliance, integrated outstanding environmental management into their core business functions and developed aggressive performance goals, including a process to communicate the company’s environmental progress to the local community.

The six companies that have been recognized as this year’s silver recipients are: Washing Systems, Loveland; Kent Elastomer, Kent; Saint-Gobain, Akron; Kent Elastomer, Winesburg; MillerCoors, Trenton; and Sherwin Williams, Breen Technology Center, Cleveland. Click here for more details.

If you would like to learn more about the E3 Awards, OCAPP is offering a Webinar- Encouraging Environmental Excellence:  How to Gain Recognition for Your Organization’s Environmental Stewardship Efforts-Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. EST. This webinar will discuss Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) program and the three levels of recognition available. The content will focus on how businesses and other organizations can apply for bronze, silver and gold level recognition and the type of information Ohio EPA needs to complete the review process.  The requirements and deadlines for each level will be described along with a discussion of how OCAPP can help organizations complete successful applications.  Examples of organizations who have received recognition under the Encouraging Environmental Excellence program will be reviewed to demonstrate the types of activities Ohio EPA recognizes in this program, and the components of a successful application for the bronze, silver and gold levels.   Click here to register. There are still seats available in this webinar. The archived webinar will be available on the Ohio EPA web site.

EPA Honors 2014 Energy Star Partners of the Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are honoring 127 organizations for their commitment to protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. Recipients of the 2014 Energy Star Partner of the Year Award include Des Moines Public School District; KB Home; Meritage Homes Corporation; PepsiCo., Inc.; Sears Holdings Corporation; and Samsung.

“EPA applauds this year’s Energy Star Partner of the Year Award winners, who have demonstrated innovative strategies to help their customers, partners and stakeholders save energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “Their commitment to saving energy helps fight climate change while also helping their bottom line.”

“Each year, Energy Star partners create jobs, protect the environment and raise the bar for the home improvement industry through their dedication to energy efficiency,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. “This national program helps homeowners by providing access to innovative home improvement solutions and enabling American families to save money by saving energy.”

The winners were selected from 16,000 Energy Star partners, including manufacturers, retailers, public schools, hospitals, real estate companies, and home builders, for their dedication to protecting the environment through greater energy efficiency.

Organizations are recognized in the following categories:

Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence: The 72 Sustained Excellence winners continue to exhibit exceptional leadership year after year in the Energy Star program while remaining dedicated to environmental protection through superior energy efficiency.

Partner of the Year: Forty-five organizations are receiving the Partner of the Year award for strategically and comprehensively managing their energy use. These organizations promote Energy Star products and practices in their own operations, in addition to providing efficient products and services to consumers and within their community.

Partner of the Year–Climate Communications: The 10 Climate Communications winners have raised their customers’ awareness of the impacts of climate change. These partners have created communications that encourage their customers to combat climate change with the help of Energy Star and emphasize how energy-efficient behaviors have a positive effect on the environment.

Excellence: Nine winners are receiving awards in part for their superior efforts in the Home Performance with Energy Star program. The remaining organizations are receiving Excellence Awards for specific activities to promote energy-efficient products, homes, or buildings.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the Energy Star label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 office buildings, schools and hospitals have earned the Energy Star label. Since the Energy Star program began, American families and businesses have saved $297 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions with help from Energy Star.

Complete list of winners: www.energystar.gov/awardwinners

Energy Department Recognizes Landlords, Tenants Working Together to Save Energy in Commercial Buildings

The Energy Department today honored 14 organizations, naming them as 2014 Green Lease Leaders for their commitment to reducing energy waste and increasing efficiency in commercial buildings. These companies have demonstrated their commitment to energy efficiency, incorporating lease clauses that reinforce energy-efficiency choices, facilitating access to the energy bill data necessary for building benchmarking and encouraging cooperation on environmental initiatives.

Green leases (also known as aligned leases, high performance leases, or energy-efficient leases) align the financial and energy incentives of building owners and tenants, allowing them to work together to save money, conserve resources, and ensure the efficient operation of buildings.  These green leases have been applied across nearly every major property type, including offices, retail spaces, and manufacturing sites.

Through the Green Lease Leaders program, the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Alliance works with a wide variety of companies to incorporate green lease language into agreements across their portfolios and provide real-world, replicable leasing examples that can be used by others. The Green Lease Leader designation signifies a company or brokerage team that has successfully implemented green lease language into new or existing leases.

The following companies were recognized:

  • Akridge
  • Brandywine Realty Trust
  • The Bullitt Foundation
  • Empire State Realty Trust
  • Jamestown, L.P.
  • Kilroy Realty Corporation
  • Kimco Realty Corporation
  • Liberty Property Trust
  • Oxford Properties
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
  • Regency Centers
  • Government Properties Income Trust
  • The Tower Companies
  • Unico Properties

Georgetown University Energy Efficiency Prize Offering $5 Million to a Sustainable Community: Deadline June 30

The Georgetown University Energy Prize competition is offering a $5 million prize to a local community that can come up with the best long-term energy efficiency plan for “innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in the per capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities.” Ultimately, the award aims to create new ways for counties and local communities to think about how and why they use energy, with a focus on the role of energy reduction in tackling the energy and environmental challenges they face.

Who can compete?

The competition is open to any county, city or town with a population between 5,000 and 250,000. All told, there are some 8,892 eligible communities, which represent nearly two-thirds of all the communities in the nation. Is your county eligible to compete? Click here to find out.

How will plans be judged?

Participating counties will be required to create a long-term plan for energy reduction, as well as demonstrate their plan’s preliminary effectiveness for two years. Plans will be judged on a number of factors, including how well they:

  • Create innovative approaches and techniques for reducing per-capita energy use,
  • Develop best practices to unite citizens, local governments, businesses, and electric utilities,
  • Educate the public, especially students, on energy efficiency issues and the benefits of reducing energy use, and
  • Increase the visibility of the work that Georgetown University and the prize’s sponsors are doing to develop new strategies for reducing energy usage and increasing energy efficiency.

When can you start?

Applications are accepted until June 30, 2014. To review the full timeline of the competition, click here.​