This Week in EPA Science

By Kacey Fitzpatricknatdonutday

Long week? Donut worry—it’s Friday (and National Donut Day)! Here’s some sweet science to go along with your treat.

The iCSS Chemistry Dashboard
EPA has released the Interactive Chemical Safety for Sustainability Chemistry Dashboard—or the iCSS Chemistry Dashboard—a new web application to support scientists in chemical research. Read more about this new tool in the blog The iCSS Chemistry Dashboard – The First Step in Building a Strong Chemistry Foundation for 21st Century Toxicology.

EPA Researcher Recognized for Outstanding Work
EPA’s Dr. Gayle Hagler was a winner of this year’s Arthur S. Flemming Award. Dr. Hagler was nominated for her leadership in research projects to quantify dynamic air pollution on a neighborhood scale. This includes developing a mobile air monitoring platform, conducting field and modeling studies of air pollution near sources, and developing a data visualization tool supporting citizen science. For more information on the award read this press release.

What Does a Scientist Look Like?
EPA Scientist Lisa Donahue recently shared what it’s like to be a scientist with a group of elementary school students at their Girls in Science Day. Read about the experience in her blog What Does a Scientist Look Like?

Elwha River Dam Removal
The recent National Geographic article River Revives After Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History is about the Elwha River dam removal. The goal was to remove unneeded, outdated dams and restore a natural river system. The project was completed in 2014, and now fish are thriving and the environment has been reshaped. EPA’s Scientific Dive Team studied the impact of the Elwha River removal and wrote about the research in these blogs.

Coming up Next Week: Small Business Innovation Research Webinar
Are you interested in applying for an EPA Small Business Innovation Research contract? Then join us for an informational webinar on June 14th to learn about the program, this year’s solicitation topics, and how to apply. Register for the webinar here.

Goats Hard at Work to Help Pollinators

goats in an overgrown field

EPA has enlisted some volunteers to help clear the overgrown landscaping at their facility in Narragansett, Rhode Island—a tribe of goats! “Goatscaping” is consuming poison ivy and invasive vegetation from the area, creating space for new pollinator-friendly species to grow—and all without the roar and air pollution of small gas engines.

About the Author: Kacey Fitzpatrick is a student contractor and writer working with the science communication team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is a regular contributor to It All Starts with Science and the founding writer of “The Research Recap.”

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

From Oberlin to Oakland: The Advance of Lucid and BuildingOS

By Christina Burchette

How do you change the way people use energy? You turn them into active participants in their energy consumption by giving them tools to monitor their use. That is the goal of the Oakland-based company Lucid—to change our habits by making us aware of how much energy we use. So far, it’s been extremely successful.

The company got its start as a competing team from Oberlin College in EPA’s People, Prosperity, and the Planet (P3) grant competition. In 2005, the team won a P3 grant for their prototype: the Building Dashboard. This online tool tracks in real-time how much energy and water is being used in a building and provides visual insights that can influence occupants to change their habits.

After winning the P3 award, Lucid’s dashboard tool has been used in energy-saving competitions nationwide. In one ongoing competition, the Campus Conservation Nationals, participating students compete to reduce energy consumption in their residence halls over a three-week period. In the most recent competition, a little over 300,000 students and staff at 125 schools saved 1.9 million kilowatt-hours of energy by using Lucid’s product to track their usage. That’s equivalent to 2.4 million pounds of CO2 and $180,000 in savings!

Two Lucid employees using the product

Lucid’s platform prepares simple data visualizations to clearly show how much energy the user consumes.

Today, Lucid’s “BuildingOS” platform allows users to collect and access real-time data from all of their meters (like electricity, water, etc.) to help them monitor energy and water consumption and provides other building management tools. The platform is easy to use and prepares aesthetically-pleasing data visualizations to clearly show how much energy the user consumes.

Lucid is a perfect example of how small business and environmental concerns can come together and create innovative tools that change the way we think about resource consumption. We are proud to have supported them back when their business was just an idea, and that’s why we are so excited that they will be receiving a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract this month to continue developing their technology.

About the Author: Christina Burchette is a student contractor and writer for the science communication team in EPA’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. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Swimming with the Sharks

By Jim JohnsonShark swimming alone in a tank

The halls of EPA have been full of Shark-talk lately—or should I say Shark Tank.  Folks have been emailing around a clip from the hit show where a company named Pitt Moss, which developed a fertilizer alternative to peat moss, was funded $600K by investors.  Not only was it great to see a company trailblazing a new market which at the same time protects vital wetlands and the environment—I was thrilled to learn that EPA actually funded early stages of this product and company through our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts.  And Pitt Moss is not an outlier—EPA helps many great, environmentally-minded business ventures with potential, get the funding they need to get started.

With support from EPA’s SBIR Program, GVD Corporation created an environmentally friendly mold-release coating that makes indoor air healthier in manufacturing facilities by reducing the use of harmful chemicals. Okeanos Technologies, a recipient of one of EPA’s SBIR awards, is developing and testing a new energy-efficient seawater desalination technology that could provide “clean, cheap and plentiful water for everyone, anywhere”. The technology will cut costs to a point where desalination can take place off-grid, allowing it to be used where it’s needed most.

Solicitations for the next round of SBIR are now open. I can’t wait to see the innovations small businesses will bring to the table this time!  Shark Tank beware!

About the Author: Dr. James H. Johnson Jr. is the Director of EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. NCER supports leading edge extramural research in exposure, effects, risk assessment, and risk management by managing competitions for Science to Achieve Results and People, Prosperity and the Planet grants, STAR and Greater Research Opportunities Fellowships, and for research contracts under the Small Business Innovative Research Program.

 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Saving Energy and Money: Go Team Go!

By Lek Kadeli

Portrait of Lek KadeliSpirited 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.” It is managed by the the District of Columbia, Department of General Service (www.dgs.dc.gov).

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.

Interactive Building Dashboard

Interactive Building Dashboard

The idea for a data monitoring display system begin when the now principal partners of Lucid Technology 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. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.