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Since the program’s inception, $4 million in scholarships and grants have been awarded to middle and high school students for their distinguished projects.
“Through this program, more than 25,000 participants have demonstrated that they want to make the world a better place. by coming up with real-world solutions to environmental challenges, students are learning how they can make a difference in the world around them,” Lexus group vice president and general manager Mark Templin said.
This year, more than 400 teams registered to represent nearly 3,000 students nationwide. In total, $500,000 in grants and scholarships were awarded to honored student teams. Finally, two Grand Prize winners were selected and awarded $30,000 each, while eight First Prize winners were awarded $15,000.
A two phase challenge, the first required teams to address concerns on land, water, air or climate and to create ways to make a difference for the environment in their local communities. The final phase would challenge teams to bring the projects beyond their local community and to inspire environmental action around the world.
The first Grand Prize winner was team “the Green Musketeers” of Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. After successfully creating their own filtration system, the students intend to patent the project, to sell it and to direct the profits towards developing systems in third-world countries.
The second Grand Prize winner was team “One-Towel Wonders” from SCAPA Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky. The students demonstrated how the simple idea of using one towel per person, per week could benefit the environment.
Pleased with the honor, “One-Towel Wonders” teacher advisor Ashlie Beals praises the Lexus program.
“For the past five years, all of my 8th grade students have worked in teams to create and implement innovative campaigns to encourage others to make one small change that can have a large positive impact on our environment,” she said. “My younger students eagerly look forward to their chance to participate in the challenge when they are in 8th grade.”
GALLERY: Lexus Eco Challenge
Beginning with the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet plans to apply eco-impact labels on all of its brand-new vehicles by 2013. As the first of any automaker to present its cars in this manner, Chevrolet’s Ecologic label allows customers to assess environmental impacts associated with any particular Chevrolet vehicle in all stages of its product life.
First, “Before the Road” presents the environmental impact of the vehicle’s manufacturing and assembly. Next, “On the Road” notes fuel-saving features such as cylinder shut-off systems, aerodynamics, and low-resistance tires. Finally, “After the Road” reveals how much of the vehicle can be recycled at the end of its useful life.
With these Ecologic labels, GM makes itself more attractive to environmentally conscious consumers. According to GM North America President Mark Reuss, “Customers want companies to be honest and transparent about their environmental efforts and sustainability goals, and rightly so. Putting an Ecologic label on each Chevrolet is just one more way for us to share our environmental progress.”
The numbers and data on the Ecologic labels are determined by independent, third-party sustainability agency Two Tomorrows, a company that provides environmental audit and assurance services to companies.
While most car companies are just trying hard to produce low-emissions vehicles, Volkswagen is looking to make even their factories green. Or is that blue!
VW calls all their efficient models BlueMotion, and is taking the same approach to their factories. Their “Think Blue Factory” is an initiative they have launched to make all their factories more environmentally friendly by 2018. By way of using less energy and creating fewer wastes, VW hopes to clean their factories by reducing the environmental impact by 25%.
Hubert Waltl, a member of the board of management at VW said; “Through the growing efficiency and productivity of our plants, the Volkswagen brand is already making a key contribution to the achievements of Group strategic targets for 2018. However, we are going a step further: by 2018, we intend to make production at all our plants 25 percent more environmentally compatible.”
VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN. was the worlds first plant to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification which means this factory meets the strictest of environmental standards. So say what you will about the new Passat, at least it is built in a modern, clean factory.
This is the only race series around the world in which four different types of fuels are being used, namely E10, E85, diesel and isobutanol. Also, apart from the result of championship points given to teams and drivers respective of their finish in the race, ALMS also awards a championship within a championship to the greenest team on the grid.
Now the series is looking to go greener still by hoping to soon introduce natural gas powered race cars. In an interview with Fox Car Report, ALMS President and CEO Scott Atherton said he wants to “demonstrate the competitiveness of natural gas, and the ease and convenience of refueling, because right now that’s seen as one of the impediments. If you can take away some of what the consumer would describe as downside issues, and demonstrate its competitiveness and the fact that you don’t have to sacrifice anything, I think it would go a long way toward mainstream acceptance of natural gas as a fuel for any type of vehicle.”
When asked about electric race cars, Atherton said this technology might play in this series in the future, but not at the moment, saying electric drivetrains cannot handle the stress of such a race series, however he is looking at other electric race series to bring in as part of their support festivities. Nissan has already hinted at an all electric series using spec versions of the NISMO Leaf RC race car.
Earlier today, Volkswagen launched its “Think Blue” campaign in the U.S. VW’s aim is to “encourage eco-friendly mobility and progressive ideas for responsible action in everyday life”.
This launch coincides with VW’s partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, as well as the May 24th inauguration of VW’s plant in Chattanooga, TN, a facility that encorporates numberous energy- conserving systems and efficiency upgrades.
The idea behind Think Blue is to heighten broad public awareness for sustainable actions and encourage individuals to play an active tole. Eco-friendly technology and efficient production processes are of major importance but the key lies in addressing social and cultural issues.
Think Blue originated with VW’s “Think Small” slogan of the 1960s, which focused on how the VW Beetle played a role in “democratizing mobility.”