Congress has passed the Higher Education Sustainability Act, the first new federal funding for environmental education in 18 years. As part of HR 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the act creates a “University Sustainability Grants Program” at the U.S. Department of Education. The program will present competitive grants to colleges, universities and other institutions so they can develop academic programs and practices about sustainability. In addition, the act encourages the Department of Education to collaborate with higher-education sustainability experts, federal staff and business leaders about the practices and principles of sustainability.


In June, representatives of Congress, administrators from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Department of Energy and members of the building industry met and focused on the “Assessment to the U.S. Congress and U.S. Department of Energy on High-Performance Buildings,” a report prepared by the High-Performance Building Council. The council, which is a group of more than 100 public and private-sector organizations formed by the Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, Washington, prepared the report in response to Section 914 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 914 addresses the need for high-performance buildings that reduce resource and energy consumption while improving the environmental impact and functionality of the buildings, as well as the comfort and productivity of their occupants. A complete copy of the report is available at


The Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., has released a Solar America Showcase Notice for Free Technical Assistance, which will provide technical assistance to large-scale, high-visibility solar installation projects. To qualify, a project must have the ability to impact the market for solar technologies through its large scope, use of a novel solar technology or use of a novel application for solar technology. In addition, the project should be replicable or have replicable components. Large-scale installations may include photovoltaic, concentrating solar power, solar water heating and solar space-heating applications. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 4 through