Here's a list of environmental contests aimed both at all ages and at students-only. On some sites you can read about winning ideas in contests completed already for this year and watch for new contests as they post them.

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Here’s a list of some contests aimed both at all ages and at students-only. On some sites you can read about winning ideas in contests completed already for this year and watch for new contests as they post them.

(If you know of other environmental contests we should add to this list, e-mail us at


PETA’s in-vitro meat contest

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is offering a $1 million prize to the contest participant able to make the first in-vitro chicken meat and sell it to the public by June 30, 2012.

Earth 911 list of contents

This site keeps a running list of national contests. Some are for students only, others open to all ages. Contests still open in July include an ecotravel-essay contest and short video describing an eco-super-hero.

Progressive Automotive X PRIZE

International competition offering $10 million to teams who “can design, build and bring to market 100 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) vehicles that people want to buy, and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance.”

The window for applications will be open until mid-2008.

Design 21: Socially responsible design

Design 21: Social Design Network aims to “bring designers and nonprofits together to create, share and discuss socially responsible design.” Several recent contests posted are now over, but check for new ones.

Greener gadget contest

Awards for design innovations for greener electronics. Presented for the first time this year at the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City. Open to established design firms, emerging designers and design students to come up with new and innovative solutions to address the issues of energy, carbon footprint, health and toxicity, new materials, product life cycle and social development. This year three top prizes of $1,000 and $3,000 were awarded. The organizers hope to sponsor the contest again next year.

Urban Re-Vision

Competitions hosted by a San Francisco-based urban-design company, for plans that reimagine more sustainable cities. One is “Re:Construct,” which involves using sustainable building and material practices; deadline is Sept. 15; three top prizes of $2,000 apiece. “Building Blocks” competition seeks blueprints for transforming one of six real U.S. city blocks into a sustainable one. It launches Aug. 15 and deadlines Dec. 15. The group hopes to offer six prizes, one for each city, with the prize amount not yet determined.

Check out the Web site, too, for past winning ideas for energy, transportation, commerce and community competitions.

University of Washington, Global Business Center at UW’s Foster School of Business: Global Social Enterpreneurship Competition.

A business-plan competition in which “students from around the world find creative, commercially sustainable ways to address problems of poverty in the developing world.” Business plans are evaluated on three criteria: 1) effect on the quality of life and poverty alleviation in the developing world; 2) financial sustainability; and 3) feasibility of implementation. The plans can cover various issues such as health care, education, the environment, energy, information and communication technology, social services, agriculture and manufacturing. Applications for the 2009 competition will be due November 12, 2008.

Microsoft’s Imagine Cup — Student Technology Competition

Each year the Imagine Cup focuses on a different global issue; this year’s theme: “Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment.”

It’s too late to enter the cup competition this year but you can check out winning projects on this site; after advancing through online, local and regional competitions, finalists will compete July 3 — 8 at the world finals in Paris for $180,000 in prize money in nine divisions, from software design and embedded development to photography and short film.

The Lifecycle Building Challenge 2

National competition open to students and professionals to develop lifecycle-building strategies — that is, strategies that conserve construction and demolition materials and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by designing buildings for adaptability, disassembly and building material reuse.

Outstanding achievement awards will be given to Best Greenhouse Gas Reduction, Best Residential and Best School entries. Winners will receive national recognition and the opportunity to present their idea to national green-building leaders. The deadline for submitting entries is July 31.


Solar Decathlon

Competition for college students sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The 20 teams for 2009’s contest have already been selected from universities in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. Each team receives $100,000 from DOE to design, build and operate an energy efficient, fully solar-powered home.

EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet

This annual competition for college students sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development calls for “sustainable solutions to environmental problems through technological innovation.”

This year’s winners include University of California, Davis, which will develop technology to produce plastic from wastewater, and Loyola University of Chicago, whose students will construct a laboratory to produce biodiesel from their cafeteria’s vegetable-oil waste. Each P3 award winner receives funding up to $75,000 to further develop their designs and implement them in the field or move them to the marketplace. For more information, contact Cynthia Nolt-Helms at 202-343-9693 or see the above Web site.

Action for Nature’s International Young Eco-Hero Awards:

Honors the work of young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who have done creative environmental projects. Winners receive cash prizes. The 2008 winners have been picked but check for details for the 2009 contest.

Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

Each year the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors 10 “outstanding young leaders who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet;” half the winners have focused on protecting the health and sustainability of the environment.

Winners receive $2,000 to be applied to their higher education or to their service project.

Brower Youth Awards

Annual national award recognizing six young people for “outstanding activism and achievements in the fields of environmental and environmental-justice advocacy.” Winners receive $3,000, a trip to California for the award ceremony and wilderness camping trip, and ongoing access to resources and opportunities to further their work at Earth Island Institute. Must be 13 to 22, living in North America.

Canon’s Envirothon

One of the most extensive annual environmental contests in North America; high-school students compete for scholarships by demonstrating their knowledge of environmental science and natural-resource management. There are numerous local and state Envirothons, with winners advancing to the national level.

The final teams exercise their training and problem-solving skills in a competition centered on four categories: soils/land use, aquatic ecology, forestry and wildlife, and a current environmental issue.

The 2008 national competition takes place July 28- Aug. 3 at Northern Arizona University; the special environmental topic is “recreational impacts on natural resources.” For the 2009 contest, the topic will be “biodiversity in a changing world,” with the final competition taking place Aug. 2-8 at the University of North Carolina.

By Seattle Times staff; we can be reached at