“Water Is” Photo Contest

The Illinois Water Resources Center’s (IWRC) “Water Is” photo contest recognizes Illinois photographers who have captured what water means for them, their communities, and the state. Winning images will be featured in IWRC materials promoting the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, a new state plan designed to improve local and regional water quality.

The contest is open to the public, including state employees. Professional photographers are welcome to submit entries under a separate category. All participants may submit a total of five images.

All entries must be original work. Previously-published material may be entered as long as the submission includes the date and name of the publication.

Entries must be submitted as high-resolution JPEG files no larger than 8 megabytes. Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (cropping, color adjustment, etc.) will be disqualified.

Email your submissions to Eliana Brown at brown12@illinois.edu by May 21, 2015. Emails must also:

  • Explain what is happening in the photo
  • Identify the location and date the image was taken, including the name of the waterbody if appropriate
  • Identify the category of submission – amateur or professional

A panel of judges will select first place and honorable mention winners.

IWRC will have unrestricted use of all submitted photos and accompanying materials and has the right to use all entries in any future online and print materials. Photographers assume responsibility for obtaining consent from any persons appearing in their photograph prior to submission.

Energy Department Announces Winners of 2015 Race to Zero Student Design Competition

The Energy Department announced winners of its second annual Race to Zero Student Design Competition, a collegiate competition engaging university students to design zero energy-ready homes. A zero energy-ready home is a high-performance home that is so energy efficient it can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption with renewable energy. This significantly reduces a home’s annual electricity costs while improving comfort, health, safety, and durability.

The awards recognize students who excel at integrating solid building science principles into designs for zero energy-ready homes including creative solutions to real-world problems. Criteria for recognition included adherence to the Department’s Zero Energy Ready Home program criteria, clear project plans, and overall competency in applying best practices from the Department’s Building America program. Top priorities for each entry are geared toward developing cost-effective, market-ready, zero energy-ready homes.

The competition is intended to inspire next-generation architects, engineers, and construction managers to apply the latest building science innovations in new and existing buildings. A major goal of the competition as it grows in popularity is to advance building science curriculum in university programs across the country. Competing undergraduate students, graduate students, and university faculty are at the forefront of a leadership movement to design truly sustainable homes.

This year’s competition featured 33 teams from 27 universities. Over the last several months, students were tasked with redesigning an existing floor plan or creating a new house design to meet the competition’s cost-effective, high-performance home energy requirements. The final portion of the competition concluded at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, April 18-19, as the students presented their innovative designs to a panel of national experts. These experts included leading high-performance home builders, building science professionals, building product manufacturer technical experts, and national laboratory research scientists.

Eighteen awards were given in five categories:

Grand Winner

  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Grand Winner Finalists

  • Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign–Team Illinois, Champaign, Illinois

Analysis Excellence

  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Ryerson University–Team DAS Haus, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Design Excellence

  • Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas
  • Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science–Team Provenance Lane,  Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science–Team Øzone,  Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • University of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

Systems Integration Excellence

  • Illinois State University–Team Redbird Red, Normal, Illinois
  • Penn State University, State College, Pennsylvania
  • Ryerson University’s Department of Architectural Science–Team Øzone,  Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

The Department also announced it will hold the 2016 Race to Zero Student Design Competition next April at NREL. View the list of winners or visit the program website to learn more about the competition.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) works with private industry, universities, and national laboratories to accelerate the development and facilitate deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. Visit the Building Technologies Office website to learn more about broader efforts to help new and existing homes across the United States achieve cost-effective, energy-saving solutions.

Kenyan activist Phyllis Omido wins Goldman prize

Read the full story from the BBC.

Kenyan environmental activist Phyllis Omido has won the prestigious Goldman prize.

She is being recognised for her campaign against a battery smelting plant accused of damaging the health of a community in the city of Mombasa.

As an employee at the plant, she was inspired to act after her baby son was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

Read profiles of Omido and the other winners at http://www.goldmanprize.org/blog/introducing-the-2015-goldman-environmental-prize-winners/.

American Alliance of Museums Sustainability Excellence Award (SEA)

The Alliance and PIC Green invite you to submit your museum as a model for environmental sustainability for the 2015 AAM Annual Meeting in Atlanta (April 26–29). The purpose of this recognition program is to educate, facilitate and encourage green practice and to acknowledge and celebrate leaders in environmental sustainability. The application deadline has been extended to April 3, 2015.

This year we hope to receive a larger number of entries by small institutions. We want to show that sustainable practice does not have to be LEED-certified to have lasting consequences for our planet.

SEA winners will be celebrated at the Annual Meeting, in Aviso and Museum magazine.

John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism

The John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, which carries a $5,000 prize and plaque, is given annually for news reporting that makes an exceptional contribution to the public’s understanding of environmental issues. The award was founded in 1993 by Oakes’ family, friends and colleagues. It recognizes journalists whose work meets the highest standards of journalistic excellence, and it is presented in the fall at Columbia Journalism School.

SEJ Annual Awards for Reporting on the Environment

The SEJ awards honor the best environmental journalism in seven categories: two Kevin Carmody Investigative categories, two Beat categories, a Feature Story category, a Rachel Carson Book award, and a category for Outstanding Photojournalism. $500 is offered for first-place winners in each of the categories.

Applications due April 1.

EPEAT Accepting Applications for Purchaser Awards

Via the SEI Blog.

Does your organization use EPEAT to source environmentally preferable electronics? If so, consider applying for the first annual EPEAT Purchaser Awards, which recognize the efforts of those driving environmental improvements through environmentally preferable electronics purchasing. Applications are being accepted through April 6 for the 2015 EPEAT Purchaser Awards. All organizations that purchase EPEAT-registered products are eligible. Learn more and apply today at http://www.epeat.net/epeat-purchaser-awards/.