Awards & contests

White House Council on Environmental Quality and EPA Honor Student Leaders and Exceptional Teachers with Environmental Education Awards

Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced the winners of the annual Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and President’s Environmental Youth Award, (PEYA) recognizing outstanding student leaders in environmental stewardship and K-12 teachers employing innovative approaches to environmental education in their schools. In a ceremony at the White House, 17 teachers and 60 students from across the nation are being honored for their contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

“These awards recognize the outstanding contributions of student leaders and exceptional teachers on some of the most pressing issues facing our nation, including combating climate change and instituting sustainability practices,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Environmental education encourages academic achievement, especially in the sciences, and develops the next generation of leaders in environmental stewardship.”‎

This year, students are receiving awards for projects including activities such as creating a novel water purification method, assessing apples as a sustainable fuel source, and reducing the carbon footprint of a school to help combat climate change.  Teachers being honored this year have employed interactive, hands-on learning projects such as opening a marine science station, designing a solar powered garden irrigation system, building a nature trail, and connecting students to their natural surroundings through field studies. These students and teachers creatively utilize their local ecosystems, environment, community and culture as a context for learning.

“To deal with immense challenges like climate change, we need a generation of leaders who don’t back away from complex environmental problems, and who have the skills to solve them,” said Mike Boots, Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Across the country, environmental education is helping develop that generation of leaders, and the students and teachers being recognized today are remarkable examples of this kind of education at its best.”

The PIAEE and PEYA awardees demonstrate the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges. Teachers and students attending the ceremony will also be participating in a workshop led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss climate and best practices in the field of climate education.

And today, NOAA, the US Global Change Research Program, and collaborators from both the National Climate Assessment network of stakeholders (NCAnet) and the CLEAN Network are releasing a series of guides for educators focused on each of the regions covered in the U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the Obama Administration in May 2014. The guides, which are being deployed on, aim to help unpack regional findings and scientific messages, provide links to key resources, and connect educators with the climate-relevant information they need.

Additionally, the National Environmental Education Foundation and EPA announced the winner of the 2014 Bartlett Award. This additional recognition is given each year to an exceptionally outstanding PIAEE award winner, who can serve as an inspiration and model to others.

PEYA winners ‎include students from 9 states, including Washington, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Carolina and New Hampshire. PIAEE winners and honorable mentions include teachers from 23 states and territories, including Vermont, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Guam and Puerto Rico.

EPA Kicks Off Third-Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge to Develop Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching its third-annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a prize contest that engages college students in developing innovative green infrastructure systems to reduce stormwater pollution and build resilience to climate change.

Through Campus RainWorks, teams of undergraduate and graduate students, working with a faculty advisor, develop a proposed green infrastructure project for the campus, showing how managing stormwater at its source can benefit the community and the environment.

Since 2012, Campus RainWorks has engaged more than 300 student teams in developing green infrastructure solutions to urban stormwater management. Campus RainWorks encourages the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses, trains the next generation of stormwater professionals, and develops new knowledge on the performance of green infrastructure.

Registration for the 2014 Challenge opens Sept. 2 and ends Oct. 3. Registrants must submit their entries by Dec. 19. Each winning team will earn a student prize of $1,000-$2,000 divided evenly among student team members and a faculty prize of $2,000-$3,000 to support green infrastructure research or training. EPA will announce winning entries in April 2015.

Stormwater is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation. Large volumes of stormwater pollute our nation’s streams, rivers and lakes, posing a threat to human health and the environment and contributing to downstream flooding.

Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution while increasing economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings, and open space. Green infrastructure builds resilience to the impacts of climate change, particularly by reducing the burden on local water infrastructure. Green infrastructure tools and techniques include green roofs, permeable materials, alternative designs for streets and buildings, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems. Communities are increasingly using innovative green infrastructure to supplement or substitute for “gray” infrastructure such as pipes, filters, and ponds.

More information at

LAUNCH System Challenge: Green Chemistry Seeks Innovations for Materials and Manufacturing

Read the full post in the Nexus Blog.

LAUNCH is an open innovation platform that was founded by NASA, NIKE, The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and The U.S. Department of State to identify and foster breakthrough ideas for a more sustainable world. LAUNCH aims to move beyond incremental change and make an impact at a system-wide level.

LAUNCH is currently focused on positively transforming the system of materials and manufacturing, which can have dramatic social, environmental and economic impacts on the world. In order to harness the innovation needed to advance this system, LAUNCH has issued a series of global challenges to address key barriers. The current LAUNCH challenge focuses on green chemistry, a crucial component in a sustainable materials and manufacturing system.

With this LAUNCH System Challenge: Green Chemistry, LAUNCH is seeking innovations that leverage or advance green chemistry to transform the system of materials and manufacturing to one that advances global economic growth, drives human prosperity and replenishes the planet’s resources. When referring to green chemistry LAUNCH uses the 12 Principles of Green Chemistry, the definition which the Environmental Protection Agency also uses, in order to provide a common framing.

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

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

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 To view a full list of overall winners, please view

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:

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

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

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.