Innovation

Examples of EPA Challenges

EPA challenges tap the ingenuity of people outside the agency, across the nation and the world. The table lists results from past challenges. You can also view current challenges. Some of the links exit the site.  Exit

Graphic Title and Launch Year  Description of requirements Outcome

National Aquatic Resource Surveys Campus Research Challenge

2014

Encourage external, innovative research and information development to support enhanced water management at multiple scales. Phase I winners announced.

EPA ToxCast Challenge

2013

Identify a group of chemical properties and structural descriptors to quantitatively predict a chemical’s lowest effect level (LEL) for toxicity. 

Winners have been announced.

See a video. Exit

Challenging Nutrients

2013

Submit innovative, next-generation ideas that could lead to a fundamental change in the way we manage or recover nutrients.

Three winners proposed various solutions including new modeling, real-time management, and paid incentives.

Real-Time Sensor to Monitor Sewer Overflows 

2013

Submit ideas for an efficient, low-cost and low-maintenance real-time sensor to monitor sewer overflows in urban areas.

The overall winner combined water-level sensors, ultrasonic sensors, and a cellphone radio for real-time updates. 

TRI University Challenge

2013 and 2014

Find innovative uses of toxics release inventory (TRI) program data  to promote more informed decision making and action by communities, manufacturers, and government.

Winners by year.

Campus RainWorks Challenge 

2012-2014

Design an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that showed how managing stormwater at its source could benefit the campus community and the environment. 

2013: Winners announced. 

2012: Winners announced.

My Air, My Health Challenge 

2012

Create personal devices for testing and reporting both air quality and linked physiological data.

Conscious Clothing used a particulate matter air sensor and stretchy fabric strips to estimate pollution exposure.

Stand Alone Field Measurement of Atmospheric Benzene & Butadiene 

2012

Design sensitive, reproducible and rapid field-based monitoring systems that measured atmospheric benzene and 1,3 butadiene at low concentrations.

The winning solution combined imprinted polymers and carbon nanotubes. 

Tracking Molecular Components of Electronics

2012

Identify concepts that could enable the development of a "molecular bill of materials" for electronic products and components. 

The overall winner used distributed information gathering. Three secondary winners used barcodes, radio frequency identification, and a system of standards and databases. 

Recovering Bacillus Spores from Swabs 

2012

Submit protocols for efficient recovery of bacterial spores from pre-wetted surface sampling tools.

The winning process: remove spores from swabs with a solvent, concentrate on a membrane, and blot between two pieces of membrane.

Six Words for the Planet

2012

Participants can celebrate the environment by sharing flash fiction: six-word essays about what the environment means to them. Recognition.

SunWise with SHADE Poster Contest

2012-2014

Students submit posters and raise awareness about sun safety to promote creative health and environmental education for K–8 students across the U.S. Winners by year.

Detection and Analysis of Ambient Concentrations of Acrolein 

2011

Submit low-cost, rapid-analysis methods for atmospheric detection of trace quantities of acrolein.

No solution satisfied the requirements. 

Apps for the Environment Challenge 

2011

Look at publicly available EPA data and come up with the most innovative way to use, show, or combine the data in an app.

Best Overall: 
Light Bulb Finder

Best Student App: EarthFriend

Popular Choice: CGSearch

Efficient Technologies/ Methodologies for Measuring the Reduction of Pollution from Nonpoint Sources 

2011

Develop or identify technologies and methodologies to measure the performance of management systems that would reduce nitrogen, phosphorous, and/or sediment pollution loads.

No solution satisfied the requirements.

It's My Environment Video Project

2011

Participants share a video clip up to 10 seconds long of someone doing something for the environment, then reading and passing along a sign that says "It's My Environment." Recognition. 

State of the Environment Photo Project

2011-2013

Featured photos in this project showcase our lives and our planet from Earth Day 2011 through 2013. Recognition.

Help Fight Environmental Crime 

2010

Students who are members of Native American tribes submit artwork depicting what they think environmental damage looks like.  Recognition.

ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings

2010-2014

Buildings compete to save energy and fight climate change by working off the waste through improvements in energy efficiency, with help from EPA's ENERGY STAR program. Winners by year.

Green Power Community Challenge

2010-2013

Communities compete to see which can achieve the highest green power percentage of total electricity use and which one can use the most green power. Winners by year.

Game Day Recycling Challenge Exit

2010-2013

Colleges and universities promote waste reduction at their football games and track and report waste reductions. Winners by year.Exit

College and University Green Power Challenge

2007-2014

EPA's Green Power Partnership tracks the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power usage in the nation. Winners by year.

National Radon Poster Contest Exit

2007-2014

Student leaders raise radon awareness among their family, school and community. Winners by yearExit

Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest

2007-2014

Intergenerational teams submit their expressions of wonder about the environment through photos, essays, songs, poetry, mixed media and dance. Winners by year.

Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge

1996-2013

The awards recognize innovative technologies that incorporate green chemistry into chemical design, manufacture and use and help advance the protection of human health and the environment. Winners by year.