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Northwest College Students Find Greener Solutions to Protect the Planet

Release Date: 04/23/2008
Contact Information: Contact: Suzanne Skadowski, Public Affairs (206) 553-6689 /

(Seattle, Washington - April 23, 2008) On Earth Day, three student teams from Gonzaga University, the University of Idaho, and Oregon State University competed against more than 50 colleges from across the country for EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award at the annual National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C. The P3 Awards encourage college students to create sustainable solutions to environmental problems through technological innovation. These sustainable solutions must be environmentally friendly, efficiently use natural resources and be economically competitive.

Gonzaga University students won a P3 Honorable Mention for their “West Africa Technology, Education and Reciprocity (WATER)” project to improve the production of drinking water filters to be used in Benin, located in sub-Saharan Africa. During a Gonzaga course taught at the Songhai Center for Sustainable Development in Porto-Novo, Benin, students would study the complexities associated with access to drinking water and undertake a variety of projects aimed at improving the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of the filters.

University of Idaho students won a P3 Honorable Mention and were also awarded $1000 from both the Green Building Initiative™ and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for their proposal “Architecture as Pedagogy: Interdisciplinary Design and Creation of a Carbon Neutral Idaho Environmental Learning Center at the University of Idaho McCall Field Campus.” The students propose to plan, design, and construct a carbon-neutral environmental learning center, which would be the first in the country to achieve carbon neutrality. An interdisciplinary team would plan and build the center taking into account waste treatment, stormwater management, energy efficiency, and sustainable building materials.

Oregon State University students won a P3 Honorable Mention for their “Sustainable Biofuels Systems for Undeveloped Regions” project in which the students propose to create a model of implementing vegetable oil-based fuels in the developing world. Biofuels are gaining ground in much of the developed world but have yet to do so in poorer countries. The proposed project would work with a community in the Pacific Islands to identify which biofuel works best within unique social, economic, and environmental conditions and how best to implement it. The project would serve as a model for other communities around the world.

“EPA’s National Sustainable Design Expo and People, Prosperity and the Planet competition provide a window into tomorrow,” said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. “These innovative student teams not only show technologies for a greener future, but demonstrate the passion and innovative thinking that will lead us there.”

EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) Award is a national competition involving teams of college and university students. The P3 Award competition was held at EPA’s 4th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C., on April 20-22. The Expo showcases cutting-edge technologies designed by the P3 teams along with sustainable policies and technologies developed and implemented by government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Support for the competition includes more than 40 partners in the federal government, industry and scientific and professional societies. This year’s Expo was co-sponsored by The Cloud Institute for Sustainability Education and The World Environment Center.

Video and photos of the P3 winners, exhibits and teams at the Expo:

P3 award winners and their projects:

More information about the P3 Award competition:

EPA’s sustainability research program: