EPA’s 9th Annual P3 Competition: Supporting a Sustainable Future

By Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr.

P3 team displays their project this morning at the 2013 Sustainable Design Expo.

As the Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), I come across inspiring projects of great depth and innovation on a daily basis. It’s the best part of my job. Together with my NCER colleagues, we build and support partnerships between EPA’s own top notch researchers and the leading environmental and human health scientists and engineers in the world.

This morning, I got to meet the next wave of young scientists poised to join those ranks.

Today marks the opening of EPA’s s P3 student design competition for sustainability. The competition is designed to support and inspire science and engineering students to work together to develop sustainable solutions to environmental and related human health issues that embrace the three P’s of people, prosperity and the planet.

The competition is a two-phase process. In Phase I, teams were selected to receive grants of up to $15,000 to research and test original sustainability projects. This year 42 teams were selected, and over the next two days will be showcasing their designs to a panel of judges for chance to enter Phase II, which includes up to $90,000 in additional grant money to help bring their products to the marketplace.

The caliber of projects I witnessed is astounding, from recycling LCD monitors to creating a water supply to local communities through fog. And you don’t have to be the Director of NCER or a P3 judge to see the projects. The same demonstrations and displays we enjoy are free and open to the public, part of the National Sustainable Design Expo.

Past P3 teams have excelled, engaging local and international communities, and bringing sustainable solutions to pressing environmental and related human health challenges throughout our country and the world. A number of teams have leveraged their winning ideas into nonprofit organizations and small businesses, sparking job growth as they advance sustainability.

EPA’s 9th annual National Sustainable Design Expo is located on the National Mall in Washington DC between 13th and 14th streets, right across the street from the Washington Monument. Displays will continue until 6:00pm Thursday (today), and continue between 9:00am to 6:00pm Friday (April 19).

If you are in the area, I urge you to stop by and see the great work on display. You’ll see why it’s the best part of my job.

About the Author: Dr. James H. Johnson, Jr. joined EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research in 2012 as the Director. In his free time, Dr. Johnson enjoys golfing and learning Tai Chi.