Dow Distinguished Awards Provide Seed Funding for Sustainability Projects

Lisa A. Pappas, Graham Sustainability Institute
Release Date: 

The University of Michigan’s Dow Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability program recently selected eight solutions-focused, student-run sustainability projects to receive $5,000 each in seed money. The competition is also accepting additional proposals through August 1, 2014 (or until the first 20 project proposals have been funded, whichever comes first). We encourage student-led teams to apply now.

Project teams selected not only receive valuable funding for getting their project ideas off the ground, but they become eligible to receive the top award of up to $50,000 to pursue their sustainability projects full scale.

Winners of this first-stage of the 2014 Dow Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability competition (to date), and their project objectives, are as follows:

  • BLUELab India: Install a sustainable water storage system in every household in Kalol, India and educate community members on water sanitation over the course of five years.
  • Future Vehicle Sharing Service Design for Ann Arbor: Develop profitable future vehicle sharing service for Ann Arbor by considering an autonomous electric vehicle (EV) design, charging station design, autonomous transport planning, and marketing strategy.
  • Greek Life Sustainability Team: Big House, Small Footprint: Retrofit fraternity and sorority chapter houses to reduce energy and water consumption. 
  • JusTake: Develop a mobile application to help counter the disposable mindset of many consumers. Rather than throwing an unwanted item away, consumers may use the tool to offer it to others instead.
  • Market Reputations and Consumer Beliefs: Conduct a series of experiments to analyze consumer beliefs and behaviors related to purchasing “green” products, particularly when such goods entails a price premium.
  • Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom: Willow Run Sustainability Project 2014: Boost energy efficiency in rental and for-sale housing units through a "town-and-gown" collaboration focused on implementing home improvements and educating female heads-of-households in the West Willow neighborhood of Washtenaw County.
  • Smart Residential HVAC Control System: Develop a home heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system that can automatically monitor and control temperatures in multiple rooms independently, including by sensing whether or not a room is occupied.
  • Urban Revitalization through Sustainable Small-Scale Indoor Aquaculture: Address the issue of an excess of vacant homes and seafood security by assessing the feasibility, profitability, and community impact of a small-scale indoor shrimp aquaculture system in an abandoned home in Detroit.

“It’s wonderful to see this program benefitting students from so many disciplines and academic levels across the University of Michigan," said Neil Hawkins, Corporate Vice President of Sustainability at The Dow Chemical Company. "We’re thrilled to support this diverse collection of action-oriented sustainability projects and can’t wait to learn from the results.”

The Dow Awards program is designed to spur high-impact sustainability collaborations across disciplines and academic levels at the university. To learn more about the competition, and how to submit a proposal, visit