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Highlights from the National Sustainable Design Expo

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In: Sands and Sounds
By: sarahsmile
May 1, 2007

Last week I had the great privilege of exhibiting for my organization at the National Sustainable Design Expo, a two-day event put on by the EPA and featuring their P3 student design competition for People, Prosperity and the Planet. Aside from a number of other exhibitors like me from a number of nonprofit groups, EPA offices, etc, there were forty teams from universities competing for these grant awards in an incredible display of innovative positive solutions to local and global problems. Being the sole person at my display table, I did not have much of a chance to explore, but I did get a chance to talk to some really inspiring young people and hear about the work of their design teams.

I noticed some common themes in the topics chosen by competitors: Over a quarter of the projects dealt directly with issues of clean water access and wastewater treatment, most of which were teaming up with a community where water was scarce and designing an appropriate solution for that community. Several teams focused on green building solutions, either for whole building design or for an aspect such as a green roof or efficient cooling system. Still many others looked at innovative alternative energy sources: biodiesel from algae, ocean wave energy, solar thermal collectors, etc. My personal favorite? UVA’s Learning Barge exit EPA: an off-the-grid, floating field station that creates its own energy, filters its own greywater, and educates in estuarine habitat restoration.


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