Applications now being accepted for 2014 MVP2 Awards

The application period for the 2014 MVP2 Awards is now open. The awards are designed to recognize outstanding and innovative P2 projects/programs.

As in years past, awards are judged on the following five broad criteria: innovation, measurable results, transferability, commitment, and optimization of available project resources. Awards are available in four categories:

  • MVP2 Project/Program Award
  • Best Multimedia Award
  • P2 Champion
  • P2 Volunteer of the Year

The 2014 application deadline is July 1, 2014. Visit for more information and application materials.

You can often easily turn a state awards application into an MVP2 award application with no additional effort.

Natural citrus scent may produce renewable solvents, fuel

Read the full story in Biomass Magazine.

A natural citrus scent called limonene may be the key to sustainability when it comes to making fragrances, solvents and perhaps even jet fuel, according to South Dakota State University doctoral student Charles Halfmann.

The Luverne, Minn., native has been working with associate professor Ruanbao Zhou of the SDSU Department of Biology and Microbiology to create genetically engineered cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, that are capable of producing limonene.

Limonene is among a class of naturally emitted plant long-chain carbon chemicals called isoprenoids with biofuel potential.

A paper on his work has been published in Green Chemistry, a journal that features research on sustainable technologies. His work is supported by the Sun Grant Initiative, which promotes collaboration among researchers from land-grant institutions, government agencies and the private sector to develop bio-based transportation fuels.

Verizon’s new app aims to make phone recycling easy and profitable

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Could instant gratification boost the mobile device industry’s abysmal recycling rate, and convince customers to sell back phones?

Cornwall’s carbon neutral farm offers hope for sustainable agriculture

Read the full story in The Guardian.

With no experience in farming, the Sousek family left their urban life in Kent to run a farm powered by solar panels, a wind turbine and waste vegetable oil.

How This Suburb Made School Buses Obsolete

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

When it comes to its schools, the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood, Ohio, does things the old-fashioned way. The city doesn’t have a bus system for its 5,800 students, because it doesn’t need one. Its seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school are all within walking or biking distance of the children they serve.

In this short film from Streetfilms, planner Bryce Sylvester explains that there’s never been a school bus system in the city. Lakewood’s density – 51,000 people in five and a half square miles, it claims to be the densest community between New York and Chicago – is key to making the system work, as is locating schools within the core.

The Problem of Finding Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Just Got Sunnier

Read the full story in The Atlantic.

The approach most cities take toward electric car charging can charitably be described as helter-skelter. With little data on where and when people need to juice their jalopies, local governments and businesses have spent millions of dollars to install chargers in the hope that if they build it, drivers will come.

And so in California, where Tesla Motors’ Model S electric sports sedan outsells high-end Mercedes and BMWs, you might find chargers at a random Whole Foods in Berkeley, a cluster of them in San Francisco’s financial district, or in places scattered around Santa Monica. Deploying charging stations typically involves navigating layers of bureaucratic red tape, dealing with the local utility company, and persuading business owners to hand over a piece of their real estate. It’s a tough business — witness the bankruptcy last year of Ecotality, one of the biggest electric charging companies in the United States.

But what if instead of luring drivers to chargers, you could bring the chargers to the drivers? And make them solar-powered to boot?

10 beautifully useful things made from ‘useless’ trash

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Nathan Devine’s ReTrash is one of those projects that’s such a great idea, it has grown much bigger than him. As an Australian kid during the ’80s, Devine (that’s him, pictured above) helped his dad in his landscaping and carpentry business, but his favorite part of the week was going to the garbage dump, where he would pull useful things from the trash, fix them up and resell them. Fast-forward to the present, and Devine continued this idea of turning trash to treasure; he has constructed a shed from old pallets and a garden box from an old window (see below).
Now, the online community that formed around the project, ReTrash, is soon to be published as a book of the same name, including both Devine’s projects and the work of 82 designers and artists from 20 countries around the world who all see trash as Devine does: fuel for creativity.

Local knowledge can minimize environmental impact of offshore wind

Read the full story at Environmental Research Web.

It’s difficult to make generalizations about the environmental impact of offshore wind farms, and local planning and assessments are vital. That’s according to researchers from Sweden and Denmark who analysed more than 600 reports and publications.

Sales from specialty Ohio license plates help clean Lake Erie

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Sales from specialized license plates in Ohio are resulting in $60,000 in grants to help clean up the state’s only Great Lake.

A pair of Ohio’s plates raised money for the Lake Erie Protection Fund, which was established to finance research and implementation projects to protect and restore Lake Erie and its watershed.

A water bottle you can eat

Read the full story at Smart Planet.

Bottled water is an awful idea. The plastic takes a thousand years to degrade, it costs more per liter than gasoline, and their precious contents are easily available (and practically free) in many places. There are exceptions, of course. In the U.S., we use 50 billion plastic bottles a year. Environment-minded people have devised all sorts of alternatives to get consumers to use fewer disposable plastic bottles: from biodegradable packaging to artfully designed water fountains. Here’s another idea: Just eat it.