EPA Announces Student Award Winners

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced the winners of the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. These students demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and applied problem-solving skills needed to tackle environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

Fifteen projects are being recognized this year, from 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations.

This year’s PEYA winners conducted a wide range of activities, such as:

  • developing a biodegradable plastic using local agricultural waste product;
  • designing an efficient, environmentally friendly mosquito trap using solar power and compost by-product;
  • saving approximately 2,000 tadpoles to raise adult frogs and toads;
  • implementing a hydroponics and aquaculture project in a high school;
  • repurposing over 25,000 books;
  • creating an environmental news YouTube channel;
  • organizing recycling programs to benefit disaster victims and underserved community members;
  • reclaiming and repurposing over 4,000 discarded pencils within their school;
  • promoting food waste reduction;
  • creating a small, portable tool to prevent air strikes of migratory birds;
  • engaging their community in a program to save a threatened bird, the Western Snowy Plover;
  • testing grey water to encourage water conservation;
  • promoting bee health;
  • uniting their schools to address local environmental issues.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation’s air, water, land and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s youth.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit:
https://www.epa.gov/education.

EPA Honors Winners of the 2017 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 potential environmental issues into business opportunities, spurring innovation and economic development.

“We congratulate those who bring innovative solutions that will help solve problems and help American businesses,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These innovations encourage smart and safe practices, while cutting manufacturing costs and sparking investments. Ultimately, these manufacturing processes and products spur economic growth and are safer for health and the environment.”

The Green Chemistry Challenge Award winners will be honored on June 12 at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The winners and their innovative technologies are:

  • Professor Eric Schelter, University of Pennsylvania, for developing a simple, fast, and low-cost technology to help recycle mixtures of rare earth elements. Reducing the costs to recover these materials creates economic opportunity by turning a waste stream, currently only recycled at a rate of 1%, into a potential revenue stream. About 17,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides are used in the U.S. annually in materials such as wind turbines, catalysts, lighting phosphors, electric motors, batteries, cell phones, and many others. Mining, refining, and purification of rare earths are extraordinarily energy and waste intensive and carry a significant environmental burden.
  • Dow Chemical Company, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, in partnership with Papierfabrik August Koehler SE, Germany, for developing a thermal printing paper that eliminates the need for chemicals used to create an image, such as bisphenol A (BPA) or bisphenol S (BPS). Thermal paper is used broadly throughout the world for cash register receipts, tickets, tags, and labels. This technology reduces costs by creating records that do not fade, even under severe sunlight, allowing the original document to be preserved for long term storage. The paper is compatible with thermal printers currently in commercial use around the world.
  • Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey, for successfully applying green chemistry design principles to Letermovir, an antiviral drug candidate, that is currently in phase III clinical trials. The improvements to the way the drug is made, including use of a better chemical catalyst, increases the overall yield by more than 60%, reduces raw material costs by 93%, and reduces water usage by 90%.
  • Amgen Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, in partnership with Bachem, Switzerland, for improving the process used to manufacture the active ingredient in ParsabivTM, a drug for the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in adult patients with chronic kidney disease. This improved peptide manufacturing process reduces chemical solvent use by 71%, manufacturing operating time by 56%, and manufacturing cost by 76%. These innovations could increase profits and eliminate 1,440 cubic meters of waste or more, including over 750 cubic meters of aqueous waste annually.
  • UniEnergy Technologies, LLC (UET), Mukilteo, Washington, in partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), for an advanced vanadium redox flow battery, originally developed at the PNNL and commercialized by UET. The battery, when used by utility, commercial and industrial customers, allows cities and businesses more access to stored energy. It also lasts longer and works in a broad temperature range with one-fifth the footprint of previous flow battery technologies. The electrolyte is water-based and does not degrade, and the batteries are non-flammable and recyclable, thus helping meet the increasing demand of electrical energy storage in the electrical power market, from generation, transmission, and distribution to the end users of electricity.

During the 22 years of the program, EPA has received more than 1600 nominations and presented awards to 114 technologies that spur economic growth, reduce costs, and decrease waste. The agency estimates 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 2017 submissions from among scores of nominated technologies and made recommendations to EPA for the 2017 winners. The 2017 awards event will be held in conjunction with the 21st Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference.

More information: www.epa.gov/greenchemistry

CDC’s Tracking Network Enviro Health App Challenge Still Accepting Submissions

You may already know that CDC is crowd sourcing innovators to use the Tracking Network and its API (Application Program Interface) to create easy-to-use software applications that will track environmental and/or health data indicators, monitor trends, provide access to data, educate the public, identify at-risk populations, and/or expose potential health hazards through the Enviro Health App Challenge. What you may not realize is the submission deadline is drawing near. CDC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program is still accepting submissions for the app challenge until June 23, 2017.

Successful challenge submissions are eligible for the following prize awards:

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Announces $2 Million Plastics Innovation Prize

Read the full story from Triple Pundit.

To help spur what it calls the “New Plastic Economy,” the Ellen MacArthur Foundation plans to launch a $2 million innovation prize in partnership with the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit.

2017 ACEEE Champion of Energy Efficiency in Industry Awards

ACEEE is proud to announce that the nomination process is open for the 2017 ACEEE Champion of Energy Efficiency Awards to be presented at the 2017 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry in Denver, Colorado, August 15 – 18, 2017.

Champion awards recognize leadership and accomplishment in the energy efficiency field. Winners will be selected based on demonstrated excellence and lasting impact. Nominees’ work may be centered in areas such as: research and development (R&D), implementation and deployment, energy policy, industrial leadership, and lifetime achievement. Thank you for taking the time to nominate outstanding individuals in the field of energy efficiency.

Nomination(s) must be received by ACEEE no later than June 9, 2017.

Call for Nominations: Landmark Behavior Change Case Studies

Tools of Change is soliciting nominations for its 2017 Landmark behavior change case studies in two topic areas – (1) energy conservation and (2) sustainable transportation. If you know of anyone working on a particularly effective or innovative approach for changing energy or transportation behaviours, please consider nominating them – or yourself. All nominations must include measured impact results.

Designation as a “Landmark” (best practice) case study through this peer selection process recognizes behavior change programs and approaches considered to be among the most successful, innovative, replicable and adaptable in the world. Designated programs gain exposure and credibility, and we prepare and post detailed on-line program case study materials, which may help them attract customers and investors, and maintain or increase program funding.

Nominations are screened by Tools of Change staff and then the most promising are rated by peer selection panels based on a standard scoring grid. Designated programs are highlighted in our webinars and written case studies, and in the accompanying webinar transcripts and video recordings. Program organizers get a Landmark designation logo for use on websites and in electronic newsletters, providing click-through access to the program’s case study materials.

The nomination form, which can be downloaded from www.toolsofchange.com/en/landmark/, must be submitted by June 5, 2017. Designations will be announced by October 2017, and case study webinars will be presented between January and June 2018.

To view Landmark case studies designated in past years, go to www.toolsofchange.com/en/landmark/.

Up for a Challenge? The TRI Program is seeking University Partners!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program is challenging the academic community to find innovative ways to use TRI data to promote collaboration among communities, manufacturers, and government or between environmental programs.

For the 2017 TRI University Challenge, EPA is looking to academic institutions to help build a diverse portfolio of practical and replicable projects that benefit communities, the environment, TRI-covered industrial facilities, academic institutions, and the TRI Program. This year, we’ll be prioritizing proposals that use chemical pollution release and pollution prevention data to promote collaboration, but students and professors may submit any project ideas that increase the knowledge, use, and understanding of TRI data and other related information. Example project ideas include:

  • Develop specific products that can be used by industry and community stakeholders to increase awareness and use of North American chemical release and pollution prevention data from TRI and from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Taking Stock Online, and develop a plan for distribution of the products;
  • Produce a replicable strategy and tools (e.g., Good Neighbor Agreements) for engaging community members and local reporting facilities in a productive dialogue;
  • Demonstrate the benefits of multi-stakeholder collaboration for reducing the use and releases of toxic chemicals as measured by chemical pollution data;
  • Bring together data from TRI and other data sources to show trends in environmental or human health outcomes in communities, either within the U.S. or across North America; and
  • Identify pollution prevention successes achieved by facilities, and develop strategies for sharing such successes with communities and other facilities

Institutions whose project proposals are selected will serve as 2017 TRI University Challenge partners. Partners will receive direct non-monetary support from EPA TRI staff experts and, depending on the outcome of their project, may receive national recognition for their project as well as speaking opportunities at conferences and events.

Want to join us?

  • Begin developing a proposal! Start thinking about a project that fits the challenge and develop your proposal materials. Submit your proposal to Caitlin Briere by midnight on April 21, 2017.
  • Learn more! Visit the TRI University Challenge webpage to learn more about the challenge and past participants.
  • Spread the word! Distribute this announcement to your colleagues in the academic community who might be interested in joining the TRI University Challenge.
  • Don’t miss an update! Sign-up to receive emails about the TRI University Challenge in your mailbox.

Need more information? Please contact Caitlin Briere, the TRI University Challenge lead.