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College Students Pave the Way to Intriguing International Sustainability Solutions/U.S. EPA awards nearly $1M in grant funding

Release Date: 11/13/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270,

(11/13/2008 --SAN FRANCISCO) Students at five California universities are delving into student-led research projects that offer promising environmental solutions for the future. The innovative research is part of the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program, which demonstrates that protecting the environment can also be economically profitable.

“The beauty of the People, Prosperity and the Planet program is that it harnesses one of our most abundant natural resources: student brain power,” said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “Through innovation and creativity, these student teams turn environmental challenges into opportunities that protect the environment, build new businesses, and create new careers.”

The P3 program also provides key technical assistance in moving the developed and developing world toward sustainability. The EPA has awarded 43 P3 grants for a total of $880,000 to student teams representing 40 universities in 24 states. The current cycle of awardees includes these following California institutions:

InstitutionEPA Grant Number Project Title
Stanford UniversitySU833912Bio-inspired Design and Directed Evolution of Iron Containing Enzymes for Green Synthetic Processes and Bioremediation
University of California – DavisSU833951Implementation of Green Roof Sustainability in Arid Conditions
Butte Community CollegeSU833937"From the Source - Tap Water as a Sustainable Alternative"

InstitutionEPA Grant Number Project Title
University of California - Los AngelesSU833911Eco-Friendly Solid State Photodecarbonylation for the Synthesis of Biologically Active Natural Products
California Lutheran UniversitySU833936Environmental Monitoring, Modeling and Assessment (EMMA): An Integrated Design for Evaluating Risk and Disparities in Residential Communities

An American Association for the Advancement of Science panel will evaluate the projects and make recommendations to EPA, which will choose the winners for the next phase of the P3 awards cycle. The P3 Award includes the possibility of additional funding up to $75,000 that gives students an opportunity to further develop their sustainable designs and move them to the marketplace.

The University of California-Davis was one of the 2008 P3 Award winners. The students designed and constructed an efficient means of producing plastic from wastewater. Bacteria used in wastewater treatment processes have been shown to store a compound that can be made into a biodegradable plastic within their cell walls. The production process to create it is less polluting than the process to create plastic from petrochemicals.

The next P3 Award Competition will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., as part of the National Sustainable Design Expo, April 18-20, 2009.

Information about all of the P3 winners and their projects:

More about EPA’s P3 Award program: