small businesses

Saving Energy and Money: Go Team Go!

Cross-posted from “It’s All Starts with Science”

Introduction By EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

We know that a strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand. That’s why, today, we announced that 21 small businesses in 14 states are receiving funding from the EPA to develop and commercialize innovative, sustainable technologies to address current environmental issues. Read more about one recipient, also a former winner of our agency’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet award, whose company is challenging kids to get involved and spurring competition to lower energy consumption in schools.

By Lek Kadeli

Spirited competition between local schools is a time honored tradition. From the football and soccer teams to the debate club, nothing beats taking on your arch rival to spark school spirit, get the neighbors talking, and build community pride.

That spirit of competition has helped schools here in the District of Columbia save more than 76,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, thanks to Lucid—an EPA-supported small business started by previous winners of the agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award.

The schools vied to see which could most dramatically reduce their energy consumption as part of the three-week “Sprint to Savings” competition. The DC Green Schools Challenge set up the competition to help schools conserve energy and save money while “engaging students in real-world learning opportunities.”

To monitor their progress and take action, students used Lucid’s “Building Dashboard,” a software program that monitors a building’s energy and water consumption in real time and presents that information in easy-to-understand graphic displays on computer screens or other devices.

Students were able to use Building Dashboard installed at their schools to gauge their progress in 15-minute intervals and help the school take corrective action, such as switching lights off when not needed, shutting down unused computers and monitors, and turning the heat down after hours. A District-wide leader board helped them keep an eye on the competition.

The idea for a data monitoring display system begin when the now principal partners of Lucid were students at Oberlin College. In 2005, their prototype won an EPA P3 Award. The P3 program is an annual student design competition that supports undergraduate and graduate student teams to research and design innovative, sustainable methods and products that solve complex environmental problems. Since then, there’s been no looking back!

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Lucid is among 20 other small businesses—including two other former P3 winners—selected to receive funding as part of the EPA’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program. The program was designed to support small businesses in the commercialization as well as the research and development of technologies that encourage sustainability, protect human health and the environment, and foster a healthy future. Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, and SimpleWater, LLC are the other two former P3 winning teams.

Thanks to Lucid, Environmental Fuel Research, LLC, SimpleWater, LLC and the other innovative small businesses we are supporting today, winning ideas are bringing products to the marketplace that protect our environment while sparking economic growth. I’ll bet that even arch rivals can agree that’s a win for everyone.

About the Author: Lek Kadeli is the Acting Assistant Administrator in the Agency’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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EPA at Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

by Assistant Administrator Michelle DePass

Next week EPA will join people from across the US government to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20.  Our team of experts will be engaged in government-to-government negotiations, while also connecting with partners from the US and around the world to identify steps we can take as individuals, as institutions, and as a global community to make our world more sustainable and prosperous.

Rio+20 is an opportunity to not only set a vision for the next 20 years of sustainable development, but also strengthen global cooperation at multiple levels – including non-profits and community organizations, students of every age, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. Rio+20  also gives us the chance to utilize the incredible progress in technology and social media in the last 20 years to engage in a new ways and bring more voices to the discussion. The commitments and actions taken by everyone participating in Rio+20 – physically and virtually – will be as important as any negotiated document, so please take part by visiting over the coming weeks!

Here are a couple of items to watch for:

  • There has been considerable discussion about reforming international institutions that focus on sustainable development. We believe that efficient and effective global coordination on sustainable development can be achieved by strengthening existing institutions like the UN Environment Program (UNEP), rather than creating a new institution.
  • We have called on each conference participant to bring their own voluntary commitments to sustainable development. Making clear and transparent commitments, when linked together and made accessible through a global platform, can advance sustainable development by showing what everyone – governments included – can do.  This broad list of commitments should reflect the spirit and goals of the Rio conference, using modern technologies and platforms to share information and increase transparency and accountability.

Keep track of what EPA is doing on the ground by checking back here and following us on Facebook and Twitter using our hashtag #EPArio.

About the author: Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, US EPA. Michelle DePass has spent her career working to support environmental progress here at home and around the world, at EPA she remains committed to expanding the conversation on environmentalism and ensuring access to clean, safe and healthy communities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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