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When Students Compete for Sustainability, Everybody Wins!

Student engineers and scientists competed for Best Sustainable Design at the Annual National Sustainable Design Expo.

Vistors to P3 observe a display

On April 24 and 25, 2010, 42 teams of budding scientists and engineers from colleges and graduate schools from across the country gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC at the Sixth Annual National Sustainable Design Expo to showcase their innovative designs for advancing environmental sustainability.

The teams competed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s coveted P3 Award for sustainability.

The three “P’s” in P3 stand for People, Prosperity, and the Planet. Established in 2004, the competition is focused on supporting innovative designs that benefit people, promote prosperity, and protect the planet while advancing sustainability in both the developed and developing world.

By specifically tapping the creative energy of undergraduate and graduate student design and research teams, the competition serves as a catalyst for sustainability education in the nation's colleges and universities.

The competition has two phases. In phase I, student teams and their faculty advisors submit research proposals for a chance to earn up to $10,000 in seed money to research and develop their design projects during the academic year.

All phase I grantees are invited to the National Mall in Washington, DC each spring to present their projects at the National Sustainable Design Expo. Each design is reviewed by a panel of judges convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The panel's evaluations are passed on to EPA officials, who then award the prestigious EPA P3 Award.

The P3 Award brings with it the opportunity to receive up to $75,000 in additional grant money for the students to use to advance their designs from the prototype phase to the marketplace.

Four winning teams from past years have turned their winning ideas into successful small businesses.  

The 2010 P3 Award winners were announced on April 26 during a ceremony in Washington, DC. "Sustainable innovations like the ones created by our P3 Award winners are the environmental and economic future of our nation.  In fields from agriculture to architecture to energy production, sustainability is the true north on the path ahead," said Paul T. Anastas, Assistant Administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development. 

The winning 2010 P3 teams and their winning sustainable designs are:
  • Appalachian State University
    Biomass Gasification for Agricultural Energy Sources and Soil Enrichment

  • Clarkson University
    Farm Waste to Energy: A Sustainable Solution for Small-Scale Farms

  • Clarkson University
    Sustainable Year-Round Food Production in Cold Climates

  • Clemson University
    SEED: Emergent Container Housing Initiative – Solutions for the Caribbean

  • Cornell University
    Dose Controller for AguaClara Water Treatment Plants

  • Drexel University
    Alkali-Activated Slag Cement (AASC) as a Sustainable Building Material

  • Humboldt State University
    Smoothing the Peaks: Smart Outlets to Reduce Brownouts on Micro-Hydroelectric Mini-Grids in Bhutan

  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
    Enhancing Urban Sustainability through the Application of Permaculture Principles

  • Roger Williams University
    Development Alternative Power to Drive a Partitioned Aquaculture System for Intensive Food Fish Production

  • Texas A&M University
    Horizontal Hybrid Solar Light Pipe: an Integrated System of Daylight and Electric Light

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Virus Removal in Slow-Sand Filters for Rural Mayan Communities

  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Evaluation of Chitosan Coagulation as a Sustainable Method for Point of Use Drinking Water Treatment in Developing Countries

  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
    A Sustainable Approach to Nitrate Reduction Combining a Riparian Zone with a Stream Denitrifying Biofilm

  • Wellesley College, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Qinghai Normal University
    A Comprehensive Platform for Rural Energy Optimization in the Himalayan Region


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