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Students’ Building Advances Honored

Friday, May 2, 2014

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Student designs that improve indoor air quality, find purpose in low-quality wood, and harness solar power in novel ways have captured awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Student teams from seven universities received EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) phase II awards Sunday (April 27) at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. The program recognizes innovative sustainable designs that help solve today’s complex environmental problems


The P3 program challenges students to create designs for a sustainable future while offering hands-on experience to complement classroom learning.  Previous winners have started successful businesses.

Each award-winning team is recommended for a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop its design, apply it to real-world situations, and bring it to the marketplace, the agency says.

Now in its 10th year, the award program challenges student teams to create designs for a sustainable future while offering hands-on experience that brings science, technology, engineering and math classroom learning to life, according to the EPA.

Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing their technologies in the U.S. and around the world, EPA adds.

And the Winners Are…

The 2014 winners were selected from 35 competing teams following two days of judging by a panel of national experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

heart centers
Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Tennessee won an EPA P3 award for exploring ways to use green oak or “heart centers,” the low-quality part of hardwood logs, in building construction.

Winners of this year’s awards are as follows. The project abstracts are available by clicking the schools' names.

  • Cornell University (New York), for designing a low-cost monitor for measuring water quality;
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Florida), for designing an innovative air conditioning system that runs on solar power;
  • Iowa State University for designing a new kind of fabric made with fibers from bacteria and yeast grown in tea and polymers of corn and soy;
  • Purdue University (Indiana), for researching how to improve indoor air quality by using plants grown in the air filter of a home HVAC system;
  • SUNY Stony Brook (New York), for designing and building Poseidon, an ocean energy harvester that converts wave motion into electrical energy;
  • University of Tennessee (Knoxville), for exploring ways to use green oak or “heart centers,” the low-quality part of hardwood logs, in U.S. building construction; and
  • University of Wisconsin (Madison), for implementing a campus recycling program for expanded polystyrene packaging thereby diverting almost 2,000 boxes and other polystyrene material from landfills in six months of operation.

In addition to the seven winning teams, 17 teams received Honorable Mentions for their projects.

UC Riverside

The team from University of California-Riverside won honorable mention for its tile roof coatings project.

EPA’s P3 program has funded 477 student team projects.


Tagged categories: Building science; Design; Engineers; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Good Technical Practice; Green chemistry

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