EPA Challenges & Prizes

EPA challenges and prizes tap the ingenuity of people outside the agency, across the U.S. and the world. Some of the links below exit the site.  Exit

    Description of challenge Outcome
EPA Seal Smart City Air Challenge Exit EPA is challenging communities to deploy hundreds of air quality sensors and make the data public. Submissions due October 28, 2016
campus rainworks challenge logo

Campus RainWorks Challenge

2012 - 2016

Challenging students to design innovative stormwater management projects on campus using green infrastructure.

2016 Registration: September 1–30, 2016

2015: Winners announced

2014: Winners announced.

2013: Winners announced. 

2012: Winners announced.

TRI challenge logo

2016 TRI University Challenge Exit


EPA is issuing a challenge to the academic community. Find new, innovative, and creative ways to use Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data and related information to promote more informed decision-making and action on the part of communities, manufacturers, and government.  Application period closed March 27, 2016.
Visualize Your Water challenge identifier

Visualize Your Water Exit


In collaboration with U.S. Geological Survey, high school students in the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay States are challenged to use open government data sources to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations.  Winners announced April 21, 2016.
Transform Tox Testing Challenge image

Transform Tox Testing Stage 1 Exit


EPA and the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) and NIH's National Toxicology Program (NTP) within the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) launched a challenge that will award up to $1 million to improve the relevance and predictivity of data generated from automated chemical screening technology used for toxicity testing. Stage 1 closed April 8, 2016. 
Nutrient Recycling Challenge logo

Nutrient Recycling Challenge Exit


EPA is partnering with pork and dairy producers, USDA, and environmental and scientific experts to host a competition to find technologies that can recycle nutrients from livestock waste and create valuable products. Submissions for Phase 1 closed January 15, 2016.
The nutrient sensor challenge logo.

Nutrient Sensor Challenge - Phase 2 Exit


Sensor-developer teams from Phase 1 to submit applications for final verification testing of nitrogen and phosphorus sensors.  Application period closed December 18, 2015.
Visualizing Nutrients calls for solvers to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations that inform individuals and communities on nutrient pollution.

Visualizing Nutrients Challenge Exit


Use open government data sources to create compelling, innovative, and comprehensible visualizations.  Winners announced August 2015.
The nutrient sensor challenge logo.

Nutrient Sensor Challenge - Phase 1 Exit


Develop an affordable, reliable sensor for measuring nitrate and phosphate levels in water. 29 teams registered for beta testing, beginning in August 2015
TRI challenge logo

2015 TRI University Challenge


EPA is challenging university faculty and students to create innovative projects that improve the understanding and use of Toxics Release Inventory data.  Submission period closed March 27, 2015.
SunWise Poster Contest logo

SunWise with SHADE Poster Contest

2012 - 2014

Submit original, creative posters illustrating ways to prevent skin cancer and raise sun safety awareness.  Submission period closed April 01, 2014.
"Climate Change in Focus" student video contest

"Climate Change in Focus" student video contest


Create a video that describes how climate change affects you, your family, friends, and community. Winners announced.
Algal Bloom Photo Contest

Algal Bloom Photo Contest


Spot and document algal blooms in our waters, and submit your photos of algal blooms where you live, vacation, and recreate.   
National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge

National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge


Encourage external, innovative research and information development to support enhanced water management at multiple scales. Phase I winners announced.
EPA ToxCast Challenge

EPA ToxCast Challenge Exit


Identify a group of chemical properties and structural descriptors to quantitatively predict a chemical’s lowest effect level (LEL) for toxicity. 

Winners have been announced.

See a video. Exit

Challenging Nutrients ideation

Challenging Nutrients Exit


Submit innovative, next-generation ideas that could lead to a fundamental change in the way we manage or recover nutrients.

Three winners proposed various solutions including new modeling, real-time management, and paid incentives.

Real-Time Sensor to Monitor Sewer Overflows

Real-Time Sensor to Monitor Sewer Overflows Exit


Submit ideas for an efficient, low-cost and low-maintenance real-time sensor to monitor sewer overflows in urban areas.

The overall winner combined water-level sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and a cellphone radio for real-time updates. 

TRI University Challenge

TRI University Challenge

2013 - 2015

Find innovative uses of toxics release inventory (TRI) program data  to promote more informed decision making and action by communities, manufacturers, and government.

Winners by year.
My Air, My Health Challenge

My Air, My Health Challenge Exit


Create personal devices for testing and reporting both air quality and linked physiological data.

Conscious Clothing used a particulate matter air sensor and stretchy fabric strips to estimate pollution exposure.

Stand Alone Field Measurement of Atmospheric Benzene & Butadiene

Stand Alone Field Measurement of Atmospheric Benzene & Butadiene  Exit


Design sensitive, reproducible and rapid field-based monitoring systems that measured atmospheric benzene and 1,3 butadiene at low concentrations.

The winning solution combined imprinted polymers and carbon nanotubes. 
Tracking Molecular Components of Electronics

Tracking Molecular Components of Electronics Exit


Identify concepts that could enable the development of a "molecular bill of materials" for electronic products and components. 

The overall winner used distributed information gathering. Three secondary winners used barcodes, radio frequency identification, and a system of standards and databases. 

Recovering Bacillus Spores from Swabs

Recovering Bacillus Spores from Swabs Exit


Submit protocols for efficient recovery of bacterial spores from pre-wetted surface sampling tools.

The winning process: remove spores from swabs with a solvent, concentrate on a membrane, and blot between two pieces of membrane.

Six Words for the Planet competition

Six Words for the Planet


Participants can celebrate the environment by sharing flash fiction: six-word essays about what the environment means to them. Recognition.
Detection and Analysis of Ambient Concentrations of Acrolein

Detection and Analysis of Ambient Concentrations of Acrolein Exit


Submit low-cost, rapid-analysis methods for atmospheric detection of trace quantities of acrolein.

No solution satisfied the requirements. 
Apps for the Environment Challenge

Apps for the Environment Challenge Exit


Look at publicly available EPA data and come up with the most innovative way to use, show, or combine the data in an app.

Best Overall: 
Light Bulb Finder

Best Student App: EarthFriend

Popular Choice: CGSearch

Efficient Technologies/ Methodologies for Measuring the Reduction of Pollution from Nonpoint Sources

Efficient Technologies/ Methodologies for Measuring the Reduction of Pollution from Nonpoint Sources  Exit


Develop or identify technologies and methodologies to measure the performance of management systems that would reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, and/or sediment pollution loads.

No solution satisfied the requirements.
It's My Environment Video Project

It's My Environment Video Project Exit


Participants share a video clip up to 10 seconds long of someone doing something for the environment, then reading and passing along a sign that says "It's My Environment." Recognition. 
State of the Environment Photo Project

State of the Environment Photo Project


Featured photos in this project showcase our lives and our planet from Earth Day 2011 through 2013. Recognition.
Help Fight Environmental Crime challenge

Help Fight Environmental Crime 


Students who are members of Native American tribes submit artwork depicting what they think environmental damage looks like.  Recognition.
Game Day Recycling Challenge

Game Day Recycling Challenge Exit


Colleges and universities promote waste reduction at their football games and track and report waste reductions. Winners by year.Exit
National Radon Poster Contest

National Radon Poster Contest Exit


Student leaders raise radon awareness among their family, school and community. Winners by yearExit
Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest


Intergenerational teams submit their expressions of wonder about the environment through photos, essays, songs, poetry, mixed media and dance. Winners by year.
Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge


The awards recognize innovative technologies that incorporate green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use and help advance the protection of human health and the environment.