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EPA Unveils Plans for Design Contest

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In: The Badger Herald exit EPA
By: Pamela Buechel
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for next year’s “People, Prosperity and the Planet” (P3) design competition Monday.

The P3 design competition is meant for college students all over the country to develop ideas that will improve their schools — both on and off campus — and help the environment.

“Through the competition, students enter their innovative solutions to challenges and compete for the chance to win funding to research, develop and implement their designs.” said Julie Beth Zimmerman, EPA P3 program director.

In September, Zimmerman said the EPA awarded a total of $420,000 to 42 teams from last year’s competition to help the students implement their plans.

Michael Murray, an Oberlin College alumnus and 2005 winner of the P3 competition, said the money helped turn his idea into an actual company — Lucid Design Group. The company collects real-time data on energy and water use in buildings and displays it on kiosks and websites.

Murray added that his company helps people visualize just how many resources they are using and understand how to reduce that number.

“Ultimately, we think every single home or building should come standard with a display system, just as every car should come with a readout of the gas mileage you are getting,” he said.

Last year’s competition had numerous winners from all over the U.S., including the University of Michigan. Students at UM introduced a project that included growing alternative, sustainable building materials from natural fiber, biodegradable or recyclable materials.

Zimmerman said many of the ideas from the P3 program, including the project in Michigan, are spreading outside of the college where they began.

“[The University of Michigan] developed a process for engaging stakeholders in the design and development of [different] sections of town,” Zimmerman said. “After the P3 competition, Gov. [Jennifer] Granholm has supported this process and the students are working with other cities in Michigan to adopt it.”

For next year’s competition, the EPA will be considering challenges from a wide range of categories, including agriculture, built environment, ecosystems, materials and chemicals, energy, information resources and water. The deadline for submission is Dec. 21.

“We received about 150 entries last year and funded 42 of them,” Zimmerman said. “We are hoping to get more projects for this year and will fund up to 50 of those.”

At the University of Wisconsin, there are many programs in effect that hope to make a difference for the environment. One such program is the “Big Red, Go Green” campaign in which WISPIRG members urge the university to be environmentally friendly in its energy uses.

According to the campaign’s website, “Big Red, Go Green” uses energy efficiency programs at UW to implement changes that are good for the environment while saving students money.

MTV has also launched a competition in which students enter energy conservation plans, and Luke Farrell, co-coordinator of “Big Reg, Go Green,” told The Badger Herald that UW has a “realistic chance of winning” MTV’s competition.


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