34.5 NH Pollution Prevention Internship Program: A partnership to support Energy Efficiency, Building Benchmarking, and Climate Change

Ihab Farag , Chemical Engineering Department, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Developing strong partnerships of academia and industry is an important element of achieving a strong educational program. These partnerships are mutually beneficial, and result in strong alliance between industry and academia.

Recognizing the importance of collaboration between companies, academia, and government to increase the level of awareness and acceptance of pollution prevention (P2), University of New Hampshire (UNH), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) formed the ground-breaking NH Pollution Prevention Partnership (NHP3) in 1993. The Partnership derives its strength from a diverse membership, with individuals representing industry, academia, consulting and law firms, local, state, and federal government, trade associations, banks, and many others. The Partnership initiated New England's first Pollution Prevention Internship (P2I) Program, offered through UNH. The primary objectives of P2I program are:

.           To provide business and communities with well-developed options for cleaner production, pollution prevention, energy efficiency, climate change and sustainable development.

.           To develop new information on pollution prevention, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gases that can be used to build educational modules and assist other business.

.           To provide students with valuable opportunities to gain practical experience in cleaner technology, energy efficiency benchmarking and climate change.

.           To create educational materials on the same topics

Engineering and Science students are teamed with interested companies and communities to work on P2 projects over the summer. To date, over 60 organizations have sponsored over 110 student interns. Through the on-site P2I projects, facilities and communities realized improved environmental performance, building benchmarking for energy use and efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reduction, and achieved considerable environmental and energy benefits. These include enhanced energy audits, reduced hazardous material use, decreased air emission and solid waste generation, improved energy efficiency, better water management and utilization, and lowered environmental liability and risk. Additional benefits include improved product quality, substantial cost savings, and improved public image. In fact, through our internship projects companies reported expected cost savings of over $3 million since the program was started in 1994.

P2I has been well received, and continues to be a success. Business and community participants became college extensions for the interns. Participating facilities realized that improved environmental performance and reduced carbon foot print often can be achieved best through process improvements that actually save money. The P2I Program was honored by several awards, the latest are the EPA Environmental Merit Award, and the National Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Program (MVP2) award.