Clean Air Excellence Awards

The Clean Air Excellence Awards Program, established at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, periodically recognizes and honors outstanding innovative efforts to help make progress in achieving cleaner air.

Award-winning entries must directly or indirectly reduce pollutant emissions, demonstrate innovation, offer sustainable outcomes, and provide a model for others to follow.

EPA is accepting applications for the 2016 awards until September 11, 2015. Download the entry forms here.

White House, EPA Honor Environmental Education Award Winners

On Friday, July 17, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will recognize the winners and honorable mentions for the annual President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) and Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The 44 students and 27 teachers from across the country will be honored at a ceremony at the White House for outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

The event will be live streamed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/white-house-environmental-student-and-teacher-awards.

In addition, EPA and the National Environmental Education Foundation will announce the winner of NEEF’s 2015 Bartlett Award. The Bartlett Award is given to an outstanding PIAEE winner for demonstrating creative integration of environmental education across subject areas, engaging others in interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges, and increasing student achievement within and beyond the classroom.

“To solve our future environmental challenges, young people need to understand the science behind the natural world — and create a personal connection to the outdoors,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These teachers and students are demonstrating the important role of environmental education, and showing how individual actions can help address climate change, protect the air we breathe, and safeguard the water we drink.”

The PIAEE awards are given to environmental educators who use innovative, hands-on, experiential approaches. Winning teachers led unique programs such as conserving nearby aquatic ecosystems, building a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Model T car, and developing outdoor laboratories and classrooms.

PIAEE Winners:

  • Ross McCurdy, North Scituate, RI
  • Minnuette Rodríguez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Sven Strnad, Plainsboro, NJ
  • Liam McGranaghan, Purcellville, VA
  • Anne Moore, Goochland, VA
  • Robert Hodgdon, Richmond Hill, GA
  • Jenna Mobley, Atlanta, GA
  • Lisa Bircher, East Palestine, OH
  • Jolie Hobbs, Van Buren, AR
  • Michael Hotz, Kansas City, KS
  • Sara Forness, West Fargo, ND
  • Sarah Lord, Billings, MT
  • James Powell, Atherton, CA
  • Ryan Monger, Sultan, WA
  • Robert Shepard, Edmonds, WA

PIAEE Honorable Mentions:

  • Morgan Cuthbert, Yarmouth, ME
  • Kim Preshoff, Williamsville, NY
  • Jessica McAtamney, Philadelphia, PA
  • Kevin Willis, Carmichaels, PA
  • Kathleen King, Stockbridge, GA
  • Carrie Settles, Lawrenceville, GA
  • Joseph Brady, New Philadelphia, OH
  • Lesley Zylstra, Milwaukee, WI
  • Josh Armstrong, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Jackie Lacey, San Bernadino, CA
  • Barbara Bromley, Silverdale, WA
  • Sarah Gotschall, JBER, AK

The PEYA awards celebrate student leadership in service projects to protect the environment and build a livable, sustainable global community.

PEYA-winning projects:

  • “Operation Ban the Bottle,” Lincoln-Sudbury High School, Sudbury, MA. Team Name: Lincoln-Sudbury High School Environmental Club
  • “It’s a Pressing Matter,” Little Egg Harbor, NJ. Team Name: Pinelands Eco Scienteers.
  • “Conversion of Plant Waste Materials into Useful Fuel Blocks for Combustion,” Fairfax, VA. Individual Project Lead: Eugene Jeong
  • “A Green and Novel Technology for Recovering Copper and Wood from Treated Wood Waste—Part 1,” Durham, NC. Individual Project Lead: Sharon Chen
  • “EcoErek,” Curtice, OH. Individual Project Lead: Erek Hansen
  • “Arsenic: It’s What’s for Dinner,” Whiteface, TX. Team Name: Arsenic Arresters
  • “South Boulder Creek Flood Restoration,” Boulder, CO. Individual Project Lead: Seth Blum
  • “Don’t Be a Nurdle, Help the Sea Turtle” Watsonville, CA. Team Name: Mount Madonna School
  • “Creating an Efficient and Novel Method for Remediation of Marine Oil Spills through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Principles,” Portland, OR. Individual Project Lead: Sahil Veeramoney

Today, EPA is also announcing a new interagency agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support both research and on-the-ground work that will help foster the student-nature connection through environmental education, stewardship and conservation. The agreement will help advance the Hands On the Land (HOL) program, a national network of partnerships between federal agencies and local schools that creates opportunities for students to learn in America’s largest classrooms – national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments, and other federally-owned public lands. Formed in 1999, HOL now has more than 150 partnerships around the country. This agreement will support development of 20 new school partnerships. The agreement will also support environmental education research, including a review of citizen science and experiential outdoor youth education programs. This research effort will seek to improve the understanding and recognition of the role of environmental education in achieving environmental and conservation goals, helping students develop lifelong learning skills, and fostering a greater sense of respect and responsibility for the environment among communities.

EPA Honors Winners of the 20th Annual Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing landmark green chemistry technologies developed by industrial pioneers and leading scientists that turn climate risk and other environmental problems into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“From academia to business, we congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve some of the most critical environmental problems,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These innovations reduce the use of energy, hazardous chemicals and water, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. In some cases they turn pollution into useful products. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products are safer for people’s health and the environment. We will continue to work with the 2015 winners as their technologies are adopted in the marketplace.”

The Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners be honored at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The winners and their innovative technologies are:

Algenol in Fort Myers, Florida, is being recognized for developing a blue-green algae to produce ethanol and other fuels. The algae uses CO2 from air or industrial emitters with sunlight and saltwater to create fuel while dramatically reducing the carbon footprint, costs and water usage, with no reliance on food crops as feedstocks. This is a win-win for the company, the public, and the environment. It has the potential to revolutionize this industry and reduce the carbon footprint of fuel production.

Hybrid Coating Technologies/Nanotech Industries of Daly City, California, is being recognized for developing a safer, plant-based polyurethane for use on floors, furniture and in foam insulation. The technology eliminates the use of isocyanates, the number one cause of workplace asthma. This is already in production, is reducing VOC’s and costs, and is safer for people and the environment.

LanzaTech in Skokie, Illinois, is being recognized for the development of a process that uses waste gas to produce fuels and chemicals, reducing companies’ carbon footprint. LanzaTech has partnered with Global Fortune 500 Companies and others to use this technology, including facilities that can each produce 100,000 gallons per year of ethanol, and a number of chemical ingredients for the manufacture of plastics. This technology is already a proven winner and has enormous potential for American industry.

SOLTEX (Synthetic Oils and Lubricants of Texas) in Houston, Texas, is being recognized for developing a new chemical reaction process that eliminates the use of water and reduces hazardous chemicals in the production of additives for lubricants and gasoline. If widely used, this technology has the potential to eliminate millions of gallons of wastewater per year and reduce the use of a hazardous chemical by 50 percent.

Renmatix in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, is being recognized for developing a process using supercritical water to more cost effectively break down plant material into sugars used as building blocks for renewable chemicals and fuels. This innovative low-cost process could result in a sizeable increase in the production of plant-based chemicals and fuels, and reduce the dependence on petroleum fuels.

Professor Eugene Chen of Colorado State University is being recognized for developing a process that uses plant-based materials in the production of renewable chemicals and liquid fuels. This new technology is waste-free and metal-free. It offers significant potential for the production of renewable chemicals, fuels, and bioplastics that can be used in a wide range of safer industrial and consumer products.

During the 20 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1500 nominations and presented awards to 104 technologies. Winning technologies are responsible for annually reducing the use or generation of more than 826 million pounds of hazardous chemicals, saving 21 billion gallons of water, and eliminating 7.8 billion pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent releases to air.

An independent panel of technical experts convened by the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute formally judged the 2015 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2015 winners. The 2015 awards event will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

For more information on this year’s winners and those from the last two decades, visit http://www2.epa.gov/green-chemistry.

Green Lunchroom Challenge to Assist IL Schools with Food Waste Prevention, Reduction

Read the full post on the ISTC Blog.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) announces an exciting new project that addresses the challenge of food waste. In order to identify sources of food waste in K-12 schools and facilitate its prevention and reduction, ISTC, in collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), UI Extension, and Beyond Green Partners, Inc., is launching the Green Lunchroom Challenge this fall. Funded by US EPA Region 5, the program is open for participation from K-12 schools throughout the state. However, marketing of the program will be targeted toward underserved regions of southern Illinois, including Pulaski, Alexander, Marion, White, and Fayette counties. According to data from the ISBE, over 70 percent of K-12 students in those counties are eligible for assistance through the National School Lunch Program. By preventing and reducing food waste in these areas particularly, and throughout the state, the Challenge will not only achieve environmental benefits, but also stretch federal and state assistance and resources through increased efficiency.

Champaign’s Big Grove Tavern wins People & Planet Award

Green America announced that two small businesses in Illinois and a third in Florida have won the Spring 2015 People & Planet Award (PPA). The focus of the Spring 2015 PPA Awards was “green celebrations,” specifically small businesses that built social and environmental considerations into their catering and event services.

The three winners, which were selected by the public during a month-long online voting period, are: Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL; Collective Resource, Chicago, IL; and Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL.

Alisa Gravitz, president of Green America, said: “We all live lives of tremendous interdependence.  As we celebrate our key achievements and life events, we ought to remain mindful of the environment and the working people all around that have supported us and made our achievements possible. The three small businesses we are recognizing today innovatively help Americans invite those considerations into their celebrations.”

The winning companies are:

  • Collective Resource, Chicago, IL is an innovative composting business that delivers collection containers and returns to pick them up filled with food scraps and other compostable materials. If customers choose to have the company staff their event, Collective Resource ensures the sustainable disposal of all organic food waste, as well as all other waste, including recyclables.
  • Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL serves fresh farm-to-table New American Cuisine. Almost 80 percent of their proteins come from farms within 60 miles, and 80 percent of their produce is sourced locally during the summer. The tavern also sources from local dairies and distilleries, uses no Styrofoam, and recycles and composts to minimize waste. With its Give Back Campaign, the tavern has been donating a portion of lunch sales to a different local charity every month.
  • Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL is a community-centered, organic, parent-friendly café located in historic downtown Dunedin, FL. The café has 10,000 square feet of enclosed yard, which has been transformed into a combined play space, eating area, and garden. The yard is surrounded by a NABA-certified Butterfly Habitat and 20 percent of the yard is currently transitioning into a garden where the café will grow its own herbs and vegetables. Sweet Peas Café composts the food its customers do not eat, as well as food scraps, boxes, and coffee grounds from our daily prep work. The café also hosts environmentally responsible parties and community events for all ages almost daily.

Erlene Howard, founder of Collective Resource, said: “All of us at Collective Resource are very grateful to be a People & Planet Award winner. With the assistance of this award, we’ll be able to invest in automated container washing, which will not only increase our service capacity, but use less water while doing so. We’ll be in a terrific place to keep our green work going well into the future. Thank you to everyone.”

Beckie Kane, event coordinator for Big Grove Tavern. said: “We are excited to purchase new equipment that allows us to expand our menu and utilize even more products from local, sustainable farms.”

Danielle Pastore, owner of Sweet Peas Café, said: “We are very honored to accept this award. In a world of conventional restaurant models and business models, it is very challenging for small businesses to find extra resources that will fund ideas that are outside of the box. This award money is really going to be put good use. For four years, we have had a plan to use the west side of the property as an organic garden space where customers are able to eat, party, and play where food is grown. Thank you for helping to make our dream into a reality, to help us to give our customers a unique experience, and for enabling us to set an example not just on a business level but to inspire other to keep their ideas alive.”

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Katie Galloway and Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Deven Clemens, Clif Bar; Jenny Burns, Honest Tea;  Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; and Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, Green America.

ABOUT GREEN AMERICA

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

WaterSense H2Otel Challenge Recruiting Rally — Two weeks left

WaterSense needs help spreading the word about the H2Otel Challenge and is counting on its partners and industry stakeholders to reach out to hotels in their areas to tell them how to join and why they should implement water efficiency best management practices.

To incentivize WaterSense promotional partners (i.e., utilities, state/local governments, trade associations, or nonprofits) to recruit hotels to take the Challenge, WaterSense will hold a Recruiting Rally from February 1 to June 1, 2015. The promotional partner that recruits the most hotels to sign up for the Challenge during that time period will be rewarded with free technical assistance. After the winner is announced, WaterSense will host a free water efficiency workshop for the winning partner’s hotel stakeholders and conduct an onsite water assessment at one hotel of the partner’s choosing.

Any organization or individual can recruit hotels to sign up for WaterSense’s H2Otel Challenge, but only WaterSense promotional partners are eligible to earn the free workshop and water assessment. Most recruiting organizations can become WaterSense partners. Learn more about the Recruiting Rally by downloading this flier and learn how to become a WaterSense partner here.

WaterSense provides materials for partners and other organizations to recruit hotels to take the Challenge and promote their participation. Download a recruitment flier to help you get started. Once your organization commits to participating in the Rally below, you will receive ongoing tips and communications about recruiting hotels to join the Challenge. WaterSense partners can visit the partner website for more information on the H2Otel Challenge.