Monday, July 26, 2010

Master's Student Darren Morris Reports on his Summer Externship at the U.S. EPA in Washington, D.C.

I am currently interning in the Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation (OPEI), in the National Center of Environmental Innovation. This office is the policy arm of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and serves under the Office of the Administrator.

For the past month, I've been assigned to the Sustainable Products Team. The office is currently addressing Executive Order 13514, which states that all federal agencies must:
“(h) advance sustainable acquisition to ensure that 95 percent of new contract actions for products and services are energy- water-efficient, bio-based, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting, contain recycled content, or are non-toxic or less toxic alternatives...”
We are working with two groups, The Sustainability Consortium, and the Green Products Roundtable, in an effort to create inter and intra-agency cooperation, and defining the characteristics of a sustainable product. In order to define this very complicated term, the team is currently engaged in analyzing current labeling standards and life cycle analysis.

OPEI is also coordinating a Sustainable Products Network that involves offices from all over the EPA. I am currently working on a paper with an AAAS Fellow (PhD) addressing these issues. I am also researching Federal Advisory Committees, and other international sustainability standards.

The work is very exciting and extremely relevant towards reducing environmental damage caused by the extraction, use, and disposal of our everyday products.

-Darren Morris
MRLS Student

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