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Washington State University and Gonzaga Students Awarded EPA Grants for Innovative Sustainability Projects

Release Date: 02/18/2016
Contact Information: Suzanne Skadowski, 206-553-2160, skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov

(Seattle – February 18, 2016) Student teams at Washington State University, in Pullman and Gonzaga University, in Spokane will receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest People, Prosperity and Planet grant awards of up to $15,000 to develop sustainability projects to improve energy conservation and wildfire resistance. The WSU and Gonzaga student teams are among 38 winning teams across the U.S. to compete and win the “P3” sustainability grants.

“This year’s P3 teams have created innovative research projects that tackle some of our most pressing environmental and public health challenges,” said Dr. Thomas Burke, Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “These students have the opportunity to bring their exciting new ideas for innovation in sustainability to life, by expanding their learning experience beyond the classroom.”

WSU’s student team was selected for their project, TrashWalls: Ultra Low-Cost Energy Retrofits, to develop and test a new approach to retrofitting energy conservation in rented residential buildings. Many older or lower income rental properties are also very energy inefficient, putting the burden of high utility bills on those least able to pay them. WSU students will develop and test a new approach, a “TrashWall” in which a temporary interior insulating envelope is built within the existing exterior wall of a rented residential building. To keep initial costs as low as possible, the insulated wall will be made by reusing and recycling scrap cloth, paper, corrugated cardboard, and polystyrene. By keeping the cost of each TrashWall below ten cents per square foot, the payback period from energy savings in utility bills with each TrashWall could be fewer than 100 days -- less than one heating season.

The Gonzaga student team was selected for their project, Design Support for Green Building in the Wildland-Urban Interface to Enhance Sustainability and Fire Resistance. Green buildings that are also designed to resist wildfires are more sustainable by preventing debris and fire cleanup and reducing health impacts on residents. The project’s design support tools will be provided to community organizations in the City of Pateros and in Okanogan County to help owners and builders make sustainability decisions about housing in areas at risk for wildfires. The design tools could be useful throughout western states facing similar climate, geography and exposure to fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface.

Funding for the P3 competition is divided into two phases. Teams selected for Phase I awards receive grants of up to $15,000 to fund the development of their projects, which are then showcased at the National Sustainable Design Expo in the spring. Following the Expo, P3 teams compete for Phase II awards of up to $75,000 to further develop their designs and potentially bring them to the marketplace.

Find more information about P3 and the selected projects at: http://www.epa.gov/P3.

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