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Peer Review

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What is peer review?

All eligible grant applications are reviewed by an appropriate, external, peer review panel comprised of technical experts using the criteria below. This review is designed to evaluate each application according to its scientific merit. Each peer review panel includes non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are accomplished in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. For each application, reviewers are asked to give a score of either highly recommended, recommended, or not recommended. EPA translates the average of these individual scores into the final panel review score.

Peer review criteria for Phase I

An external peer review panel assesses which Phase I proposals are the most meritorious. The following criteria are used in descending order of importance. Note: this order is not the same as the order required for proposal submission.

  1. Relationship of Challenge to Sustainability (People, Prosperity, and the Planet)

    Does the proposed project integrate and sustain environmental protection, economic prosperity, and social benefit across scales in the developing and/or developed world?

    People: Do the proposed environmental and economic outcomes benefit society? Does the project meet the needs of the intended end user? If the design is intended for the developing world, does it have the potential to improve quality of life? If it is intended for the developed world, does it use energy and material resources effectively and efficiently through the life cycle while reducing hazards to human health and the environment?

    Prosperity: Does the proposal mention or consider short- and long-term costs?

    Planet: In general, will the design reduce impacts on the environment and human health, diminish resource consumption, and/or directly benefit the environment? Does the proposal demonstrate that: (1) design demonstration will not exhaust or degrade the local environment or shift the environmental impacts to another locality? (2) the proposed project is less damaging or more beneficial to the health of natural systems than the traditional design?

  2. Challenge Definition

    Is the technical challenge defined in terms that are relevant and significant related to sustainability? Is the scope of the project clearly described? Are potential or realized project characteristics, opportunities, and limitations described?

  3. Innovation and Technical Merit

    Is the design novel? Is the design interdisciplinary? Does the proposal address feasibility of the design, demonstrate scientific/technical soundness, and discuss trade-offs in the design approach? Are the proposed approaches and suggested materials adequate and appropriate?

  4. Measurable Results (outputs/outcomes), Evaluation Method, and Demonstration Strategy

    Can the goals and objectives be determined and achieved? Do the methods to quantify the benefits seem applicable, effective, and appropriate? Have the necessary partnerships been developed or will they be pursued? Can the design or approach be replicated in other situations?

  5. Integration of P3 Concepts as an Educational Tool

    Will the proposed plans maximize the educational benefits of the P3 Award program?

Phase I Review and Selection Process

All grant applications for Phase I awards will be peer reviewed to evaluate each proposal according to its scientific merit.

Applications receiving scores of recommended or highly recommended as a result of the peer review process will then undergo a "programmatic" review conducted by technical experts from the EPA. Experts can include individuals from the EPA's Office of Research and Development and program and regional offices involved with the science or engineering proposed. All other applications are automatically declined.

Peer review criteria for Phase II

The reviewers convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will be asked to assess which P3 Phase II proposals are the most meritorious. The following criteria will be used in descending order of importance. Note: This is not the same order required for proposal submission.

  1. Relationship of Challenge to Sustainability (People, Prosperity, and the Planet)
  2. How well does the proposed follow-on work for Phase II integrate and sustain environmental protection, economic prosperity, and social benefit across scales in the developing and/or developed world? Does the proposal address how future generations may be affected by the design?

    People: Do the proposed environmental and economic outcomes benefit society? Does the project meet the needs of the intended end user? If the design is intended for the developing world, does it have the potential to improve quality of life? If it is intended for the developed world, does it use energy and material resources effectively and efficiently through the life cycle while reducing hazards to human health and the environment?

    Prosperity: Does the proposal mention or consider short- and long-term costs?

    Planet: In general, will the design reduce impacts on the environment and human health, diminish resource consumption, and/or directly benefit the environment? Does the proposal demonstrate that: (1) design demonstration will not exhaust or degrade the local environment or shift the environmental impacts to another locality? (2) the proposed project is less damaging or more beneficial to the health of natural systems than the traditional design?

  3. Challenge Definition and Relationship to Phase I
  4. Is the technical challenge defined in terms that are relevant and significant to sustainability? Is the scope of the project clearly described? Are potential or realized project characteristics, opportunities, and limitations described? Was Phase I of the project successful? How does Phase II build on the successes in Phase I? What are the lessons learned from Phase I and how will they be applied in Phase II? How will Phase II advance and improve progress in Phase I?

  5. Innovation and Technical Merit
  6. Is the design novel? Is the design interdisciplinary? Does the proposal address feasibility of the design, demonstrate scientific/technical soundness, and discuss trade-offs in the design approach? Are the proposed approaches and suggested materials adequate and appropriate? What is the likelihood of success for the work proposed in Phase II?

  7. Measurable Results (Outputs/Outcomes), Evaluation Method, and Demonstration Strategy
  8. How will the goals and objectives for Phase II be achieved? Are the potential realized benefits described in terms of people, prosperity, and the planet? Is the proposed strategy for moving the design from research to development (Phase I) to demonstration (Phase II) adequate and realistic? Have the necessary partnerships been developed or are they being pursued? Is the design or design approach applicable and replicable to the extent appropriate?

  9. Integration of P3 Concepts as an Educational Tool
  10. Was Phase I of the P3 project successfully implemented as an educational tool? Will the proposed plans for Phase II maximize the educational benefits of the project? Will student awareness be increased in terms of the impacts of their designs on people, prosperity, and the planet beyond those directly participating on the P3 project?

Phase II Review and Selection Process

As part of the second phase of the P3 program, the judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will evaluate all Phase I projects and review the Phase II proposals to recommend projects to receive one of EPA's P3 Awards. The evaluation of Phase I will consist of assessing the written summary submitted with a demonstration of the project at the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in May. The judges will review the Phase II proposals prior to the P3 Awards competition on the National Mall. The judges will use the Phase II criteria above to make recommendations to the EPA on the top projects that should be considered for a P3 Award and an opportunity to receive Phase II funding. Winners of the EPA's P3 Award will be chosen by EPA and will be eligible for additional funding to support further development and demonstration as described in the Phase II proposal. EPA will make the final decisions to select projects that receive Phase II funding.

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