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U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
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Benchmarking the Integration of Sustainability into Engineering Curricula at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education

This is the initial announcement of this funding opportunity.

Sorting Code Number: 2004-NCER-WW
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 66.510

Solicitation Opening Date: June 2, 2004
Solicitation Closing Date: August 3, 2004
Application receipt deadline date: August 3, 2004, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T.

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program
Award Information
Eligibility Information
Cost Sharing
Contact Person(s)

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction
Background
Specific Areas of Interest
References
Authority and Regulations

AWARD INFORMATION

ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants
Cost Sharing

APPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Address to Request Application Package
Content and Form of Application Submission
Special Instructions for Submitting an Application
Sorting Code
Submission Dates and Times
Funding Restrictions
Other Submission Requirements

APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria
Review and Selection Process

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices
Administrative and National Policy Requirements
Reporting

AGENCY CONTACTS

SUMMARY OF PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS

Synopsis of Program:
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the auspices of the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) within the Office of Research and Development (ORD) is seeking applications proposing to encourage and benchmark the integration of sustainability concepts into engineering curriculum at institutions of higher education in the United States.

Award Information:
Anticipated Type of Award: Grant
Estimated Number of Award(s): One award
Anticipated Funding Amount: Approximately $350,000 total costs
Potential Funding per Grant: Up to $175,000/year with a duration of 2 years and no more than a total of $350,000, including direct and indirect costs. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits will not be considered.

Eligibility Information:
Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. See full announcement for more details.

Cost sharing:
Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

Contact Person(s):
Technical Contact: Julie Zimmerman; Phone: 202-343-9689; email: zimmerman.julie@epa.gov
Eligibility Contact: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

FUNDING OPPORTUNITY DESCRIPTION

Introduction

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the auspices of the National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) within the Office of Research and Development (ORD) announces a competition for benchmarking the integration of sustainability concepts into engineering curriculum at institutions of higher education in the United States. Providing fundamental engineering education with an awareness of the relationship of engineering to the cornerstones of sustainability, economy, society, and the environment, will build capacity for a future workforce that is prepared to address the technical challenges to simultaneously promote prosperity, benefit people, and protect the planet. The Brundtland Commission has defined sustainability as “…meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” [1]. EPA is particularly interested in sustainability as it relates to human health and the environment.

While there is much anecdotal evidence to support an increased commitment by educational institutions to incorporate sustainability into engineering education, to date, there has not been a systematic assessment of these activities. Through this request for applications, EPA is seeking proposals to benchmark the current efforts of engineering departments at U.S. institutions of higher learning to provide future engineers with an awareness of the relationships between economy, society, and the environment.

EPA is interested in proposals that describe the methodology for benchmarking and the implementation plan, as well as the strategy for compiling and disseminating the results. Furthermore, proposals should include a means to identify exemplary faculty members or departments that have played a key role in advancing the integration of sustainability into engineering education.

Background

Over the next fifty years the world’s population is forecast to increase by 50 percent and global economic activity is expected to increase 500 percent [2]. This has serious environmental and social implications unless economic growth and improved quality of life can be achieved through innovative science and technology that increases materials and energy efficiency while shifting to intrinsically benign materials and energy sources. Achieving economic growth using these mechanisms requires applying the traditions of engineering creativity and effectiveness to the design of new products, processes and systems. This will advance the mutual goals of economic prosperity, protection of the natural systems of the planet, and providing a higher quality of life for its people. Education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability, and numerous articles, papers, books, workshops, and conference proceedings have made a compelling case for systematic engineering education reform [3], including recent calls for change by the National Academy of Engineering [4].

In 2000, in the United States, there were approximately 90,000 bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate engineering degrees granted [5] and over 1.5 million engineers were employed [6]. These numbers highlight the need to understand the education engineering students are receiving and how engineering departments are introducing the concepts of sustainability to their undergraduate and graduate students. When sustainability concepts are integrated into a strong, fundamental engineering education, these engineers will join the workforce with an awareness of the impacts of their work on the economy, society, and the environment. They will also be prepared to work in a multi-disciplinary framework, integrate all relevant information and make decisions through collaboration.

There has been support from the higher education community in the United States and throughout the world for educating future engineers to have an awareness of sustainability. This commitment from colleges and universities has manifested itself in many ways including the integration of sustainability concepts into the core curriculum, the development of new courses, and even the creation of new degrees in sustainable engineering that cross traditional discipline boundaries. This has also included the establishment of new engineering centers and institutes focused on sustainability issues and hosting conferences and symposia on engineering and sustainability. In addition, engineering faculty have focused their research efforts on technical challenges to sustainability as evidenced by the number of grant proposals for support in this area, as well as numerous publications in traditional engineering journals and newly established journals specifically highlighting engineering and sustainability.

The extent of integration of sustainability into the engineering curricula at institutions of higher education in the United States may be identified by several key activities and indicators including but not limited to: (1) curricula development activities such as new core courses or electives or amending existing courses to include sustainability themes; (2) centers and institutes on campus related to sustainability; (3) conferences related to sustainability developed and hosted by faculty, departments, or engineering schools; (4) institutional support and funding for research relating engineering fundamentals, design, and concepts to their impact on society, economy, and the environment; (5) opportunities to pursue concentrations in sustainability or joint degrees between engineering departments and departments focused on other aspects of sustainability including policy, economics, social sciences, business, etc.; (6) designated faculty with a single or joint appointment whose title, teaching, and research focus on sustainability; (7) individual guest lectures in courses, department or college-wide seminars or seminar series focused on sustainability, and faculty networks.

Specific Areas of Interest

Through this RFA, EPA is requesting proposals to benchmark the integration of sustainability into the engineering curricula at U.S. colleges and universities. A successful proposal should focus on 1) identifying key activities and indicators, 2) defining metrics and developing a methodology to evaluate and aggregate them for engineering departments, 3) conducting the evaluation, 4) describing a strategy to disseminate the information to the appropriate audiences, and 5) outlining a means to identify engineering faculty members, departments and/or administrators that have significantly contributed, as noted by their peers, to advancing the integration of sustainability into engineering education and raising the level of awareness.

References

  • Our Common Future, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 1987.
  • The Weight of Nations: Material Outflow from Industrial Economies, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, 2000.
  • Splitt, F. G., “An Odyssey of Educational and Environmental Initiatives: From National Information Infrastructure to the Fate of our Inland Lakes and Ecoefficient Design,” Keynote Address, Virginia Polytechnic University and EPA sponsored Sustainable and Environmentally Conscious Engineering Conference, Roanoke, VA, July 30, 2001.
  • Wulf, W., and G. M. C. Fisher, “A Makeover for Engineering Education,” Issues in Science and Technology, spring 2002, http://www.nap.edu/issues/18.3/p_wulf.html exit EPA, accessed January 22, 2004.
  • National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, Science and Engineering Degrees: 1966-2000, NSF 02-327, Author, Susan T. Hill (Arlington, VA 2002)
  • United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook: 2002-03 Edition, Engineers, on the internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm exit EPA

Authority and Regulations

The authority for this RFA and resulting awards is contained in Clean Air Act, Section 103, as amended, Public Law 95-95, 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.; Clean Water Act, Section 104, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.; Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 1442, as amended, Public Law 93- 523, Toxic Substances Control Act, Section 10, as amended 15 U.S.C. 2609; Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Section 20, as amended 7 U.S.C. 136r.

AWARD INFORMATION

EPA anticipates funding approximately one (1) grant under this RFA. The projected award amount is $175,000 per year total costs, for up to 2 years depending on the availability of funds. Proposals with budgets exceeding the total award limits ($350,000) will not be considered. The total project period for an application submitted in response to this RFA may not exceed 2 years.

ELIGIBILITY INFORMATION

Eligible Applicants

Institutions of higher education and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and Tribal, state and local governments, are eligible to apply. Universities and educational institutions must be subject to OMB Circular A-21. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. 

Eligible nonprofit organizations include any organizations that meet the definition of nonprofit in OMB Circular A-122. However, nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that engage in lobbying activities as defined in Section 3 of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 are not eligible to apply.

Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Tom Barnwell in NCER, phone 202-343-9862, email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

Cost Sharing

Institutional cost-sharing is not required.

APPLICATIONAPPLICATION AND SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Address to Request Application Package

See special instructions below.

Content and Form of Application Submission

Special Instructions for Submitting an Application

The Special Instructions for submitting an application for support under this RFA can be found below.

SPECIAL Instructions for Submitting an application for support to
Benchmarking the Integration of Sustainability into Engineering Curricula at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (ORD)
NATIONAL CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH (NCER)

Sorting Codes
The Application
A. Standard Form 424
B. Key Contacts
C. Table of Contents
D. Abstract
E. Research Plan
F. Resumes
G. Budget
H. Budget Justification
Proprietary Information/Confidentiality
How to Apply
Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements
Review and Selection
Funding Mechanism
Expectations and Responsibilities of NCER Grantees
Contacts
Privacy Act and Public Burden Statements
Applicable Federal Citations

Go to Forms Download Page for Benchmarking the Integration of Sustainability into Engineering Curricula at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/2004sustainability_engineering_curricula.html)

Standard Form 424
Instructions for SF 424
Key Contacts Form (NCER Form 1)
Key Contacts Continuation Form (NCER Form 1a)
Abstract Format (NCER Form 2)
Budget Format (NCER Form 4)

1. Sorting Codes

At various places within the application, applicants are asked to identify the sorting code corresponding to their proposed research in the solicitation. The sorting code for this RFA is 2004-NCER-WW.

The sorting code must be placed at the top of the abstract (location is shown in the abstract format, see NCER Form 2), (PDF, 9pp., 156.10 KB, about PDF) in Box 10 of Standard Form 424 (see description below in the section on SF424), and in the address on the package that is sent to the EPA (see Section 4, How to Apply, below).

2. The Application

The initial application is made through submission of the materials described below. It is essential that the application contain all information requested and be submitted in the formats described. Noncompliance with formatting instructions (page limits, font size, etc.) is grounds for dismissal prior to peer review. Please note that if an application is being considered for an award (i.e., after external peer review and internal review), additional forms and other information will be requested by the EPA Project Officer. The application must contain the following:

A. Standard Form 424: The applicant must complete SF424 (see form SF424 - (PDF, 1pp., 44.69 KB, about PDF) and SF424 Instructions - (PDF, 1pp., 74.50 KB, about PDF). This form will be the first page of the application. Instructions for completing the SF424 are included with the form. The form must contain the original signature of an authorized representative of the applying institution. Please note that both the Principal Investigator and an administrative contact are to be identified in Section 5 of the SF424.

B. Key Contacts: The applicant must complete the Key Contacts Form (see NCER Form 1 - (PDF, 3pp., 118.70 KB, about PDF) as the second page of the application. Please make certain that all contact information is accurate.

An e-mail will be sent to the Principal Investigator (with a copy to the Administrative Contact) to acknowledge receipt of the application and to transmit other important information. If an e-mail acknowledgment has not been received within 30 days of the submission deadline, then immediately contact the Project Officer listed under "Contacts" in the solicitation.

C. Table of Contents: Provide a list of the major subdivisions of the application indicating the page number on which each section begins.

D. Abstract: The abstract is a very important document. All abstracts are provided to the peer review panelists, and some of the panelists may read only the abstract. Abstracts also play a critical role in programmatic review. Therefore, it is critical that the abstract accurately describes the research being proposed and conveys all the essential elements of the research. Also, the abstracts of applications that receive funding will be posted on the NCER web site.

The abstract, limited to one page, should include the information indicated in the example format (see NCER Form 2 - (PDF, 9pp., 156.10 KB, about PDF) and described below (1-8):

1. Sorting Code: Enter the full name of the solicitation (Benchmarking the Integration of Sustainability into Engineering Curricula at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education)

and the sorting code, 2004-NCER-WW.

2. Title: Use the exact title of your project as it appears in the application. The title must be brief, yet represent the major thrust of the project.

3. Investigators: List the Principal Investigator, then the names and affiliations of each co-investigator who will significantly contribute to the project. Provide a web site URL or an e-mail contact address for additional information.

4. Institutions: In the same order as the list of investigators, list the name and city/state of each participating university or other applicant institution. The institution applying for assistance must be clearly identified.

  • Project Period: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates.
  • Project Cost: Show the total dollar request, including direct and indirect costs, to the EPA for all grant years (the entire project period).
  • Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (a) the information that will be used to benchmark the current state of integration of sustainability into engineering curriculum, (b) the method by which this information will be determined and disseminated, and (c) the means to identify engineering faculty members and/or administrators who have significantly contributed .

5. Project Period: Show the proposed project beginning and ending dates.

6. Project Cost: Show the total dollar request, including direct and indirect costs, to the EPA for all grant years (the entire project period).

7. Project Summary: Provide three subsections addressing: (a) the information that will be used to benchmark the current state of integration of sustainability into engineering curriculum, (b) the method by which this information will be determined and disseminated, and (c) the means to identify engineering faculty members and/or administrators who have significantly contributed.

E. Research Plan: This description must not exceed twenty-five (25) consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins. The description must provide the following information:

  1. Research Program
    Describe the program’s responsiveness to the RFA and its originality. Identify the key activities and metrics that will be used to benchmark the integration of sustainability into engineering curricula. Detail the methods by which the metrics will be determined including information sources for each metric. Explain why these metrics were selected and demonstrate that they are comprehensive, appropriate, and applicable to the vast majority of engineering departments. Design a classification system that can differentiate between institutions and will allow for accessing information based on institutional characteristics such as: discipline, size, research or teaching, public or private. Describe alternative possibilities to capture the activities of departments that may not be appropriately or adequately reflected in the proposed metrics. What is the anticipated proportion of engineering departments that will be represented in the final product? Describe strategies to capture the activities of as many departments within an institution as possible. Describe the means by which engineering faculty, departments and/or administrators that have significantly contributed to the integration of sustainability into the curricula will be identified.
  2. Qualifications of the PI and Other Personnel
    Describe personnel experience in engineering education and/or sustainability. Describe how the research team will interact. Describe how interactions with institutions will be conducted. Detail how access to the facilities, personnel, project schedules, etc., will be managed.
  3. QA/QC General Project Information
    For any project involving data collection or processing, conducting surveys, environmental measurements, modeling, or the development of environmental technology (whether hardware-based or via new techniques) for pollution control, provide a Statement on processes that will be used to assure that results of the research satisfy the intended project objectives. EPA is particularly interested in the quality controls for data generation and acquisition, and how data validation and usability will be verified. The Statement must describe a system that complies with ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, and must not exceed two consecutively numbered, 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.
    For each item below, present the required information, reference the specific location of the information in the Research Plan, or provide a justification of why the item does not apply to the proposed research.
    1. Identify the individual who will be responsible for the quality assurance and quality control aspects of the research. (Quality assurance (QA) is an integrated system of management activities involving planning, implementation, documentation, assessment, and improvement to ensure that a process, or item is of the type and quality needed for the project. Quality control (QC) is the system of technical activities that measures the attributes and performance of a process or item against defined standards, to verify that they meet the stated requirements.)
    2. Discuss the activities to be performed or the hypothesis to be tested and criteria for determining acceptable data quality. (Note: Such criteria may be expressed in terms of precision, accuracy, representativeness, completeness, and comparability or in terms of data quality objectives or acceptance and evaluation criteria.) Also, these criteria must be applied to determine the acceptability of existing, or “secondary,” data to be used in the project. (In this context, secondary data may be defined as data previously collected for other purposes or from other sources.)
    3. Describe the study design. Include sample type(s) and location requirements, all statistical analyses that were or will be used to estimate the types and numbers of physical samples required, or equivalent information for studies using survey and interview techniques, or describe how new technology will be benchmarked to improve existing processes, such as those used by industry.
    4. Describe the procedures that will be used in the calibration and performance evaluation of all analytical instrumentation and all methods of analysis to be used during the project. Explain how the effectiveness of any new technology will be measured.
    5. Describe the procedures for the handling and custody of samples, including sample collection, identification, preservation, transportation, and storage, or how the accuracy of test measurements will be verified.
    6. Discuss the procedures for data reduction and reporting, including a description of all statistical methods to make inferences and conclusions, with identification of any statistical software to be used; discuss any computer models to be designed or utilized and describe the associated verification and validation techniques.
    7. Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for peer or other reviews of the study design or analytical methods prior to data collection.

    ANSI/ASQC E4, Specifications and Guidelines for Quality Systems for Environmental Data Collection and Environmental Technology Programs, is available for purchase from the American Society for Quality, phone 1-800-248-1946, item T55. Only in exceptional circumstances should it be necessary to consult this document. An EPA guidance document, Guidance on Satisfying EPA Quality System Requirements for STAR Grants (EPA QA/G-1STAR) is available for potential applicants and addresses in detail how to comply with ANSI/ASQC E4 for STAR grants. This may be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/ncer under “Guidance and FAQs.”

The following sections must be included in addition to the 25-page Research Plan.

F. Resumes: Provide the resume of the principal investigator(s) and important co-workers. The resume for each individual must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

G. Budget: The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. This budget must be in the format provided in the example (see NCER Form 4 - PDF, 9pp., 156.10 KB, about PDF) and must not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages with 1-inch margins.

If a sub-agreement, such as a sub-contract, is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the sub-contract in the same format. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under “Contracts” in the master budget. Any project which contains a sub-agreement that constitutes more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant will be subject to special internal review. Additional justification for use of such a sub-contract must be provided, discussing the need for this agreement to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Please note that institutional cost-sharing is not required and, therefore, does not have to be included in the budget table. However, if you intend to cost-share, a brief statement concerning cost-sharing should be added to the budget justification, and estimated dollar amounts must be included in the appropriate categories in the budget table.

H. Budget Justification: Describe the basis for calculating the personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contractual support, and other costs identified in the itemized budget and explain the basis for their calculation. (Special attention should be given to explaining the “travel,” “equipment,” and “other” categories.) The budget justification should not exceed two consecutively numbered (bottom center), 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced, standard 12-point type with 1-inch margins.

Budget information should be supported at the level of detail described below.

  1. Personnel - List all staff positions by title. Give annual salary, percentage of time assigned to the project, and total cost for the budget period.
  2. Fringe Benefits - Identify the percentage used and the basis for its computation.
  3. Travel - Specify the estimated number of trips and locations, and other costs for each type of travel. Explain the need for any travel outside the United States.
  4. Equipment - Identify computers, and each item to be purchased which has an estimated cost of $5,000 or more per unit and a useful life of more than one year. (Items with a unit cost of less than $5,000 are considered supplies, per regulation.)
  5. Supplies - “Supplies” means all tangible property other than “equipment.” Identify categories of supplies to be procured (e.g., laboratory supplies or office supplies).
  6. Contractual - Identify each proposed sub-agreement (grant or contract) and specify its purpose and estimated cost. Sub-agreements more than $25K should have a separate itemized budget included as part of the application.
  7. Other - List each item in sufficient detail for the EPA to determine the reasonableness of its cost relative to the research to be undertaken.
  8. Indirect Charges - If indirect charges are included in the budget, indicate the approved rate and base with an explanation of how indirect costs were calculated.

3. Proprietary Information/Confidentiality

By submitting an application in response to this solicitation, the applicant grants EPA permission to make limited disclosures of the application to technical reviewers both within and outside the Agency for the express purpose of assisting the Agency with evaluating the application. Information from a pending or unsuccessful application will be kept confidential to the fullest extent allowed under law; information from a successful application may be publicly disclosed.

4. How to Apply

The original and eight (8) copies of the complete application (9 in all) and one (1) additional copy of the abstract, must be received by NCER no later than 4:00 P.M. Eastern Time on August 3, 2004.

To be considered timely, applications must be received by the Agency on or before the deadline published in the RFA. Applications received after the published deadline or applications that deviate from the prescribed format will be returned to the sender without further consideration. Also, applications exceeding the funding limits described in the RFA will be returned without review .

The application and abstract must be prepared in accordance with these instructions. Informal, incomplete, or unsigned applications will be returned without review. The original, signed copy of the application must not be bound or stapled in any way. The other eight (8) required copies of the application should be secured with paper or binder clips or secure staples.

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-NCER-WW
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

Please note: Due to uncertainties associated with timely delivery of regular mail, it is especially important to follow the procedures described in the second paragraph of Section 2B if this method of delivery is used.

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-NCER-WW
1025 F. Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686

5. Guidelines, Limitations, and Additional Requirements

After evaluation and selection for award, applicants recommended for funding will be required to submit additional certifications and an electronic version of the revised project abstract, and may be requested to provide responses to comments or suggestions offered by the peer reviewers, a revised budget, a quality control/quality assurance statement and/or to resubmit their proposal. EPA Project Officers will contact the principal investigator(s) to obtain these materials. Applications will be selected for an award subject to the availability of funding.

Collaborative applications involving more than one institution must be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions involved.

6. Technical Review and Award Selections

A. Review and Selection Process. All grant applications will be reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review panel. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to the peer review criteria (see section 6B). Applications that receive scores of “excellent” and “very good” from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within the EPA. Recommendations on funding will then be given to the NCER Director who will make the funding decisions. Selected applicants will be required to provide additional information (see above) and the application will be forwarded to the grants administration office for final approval and award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures.

Applicants will be notified about selection decisions within approximately four months of the application deadline. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter.

B. Peer Review and Criteria. In general the peer review group will be composed of non-EPA scientists, engineers, social scientists, and/or economists who are experts in their respective disciplines and proficient in the technical subjects they are reviewing. Reviewers will be asked to assess which proposals are the most meritorious using the following review criteria.

    1. Research Program

      Is the proposal original and responsive to the RFA? Does the proposal identify the key activities and metrics that will be used to benchmark the integration of sustainability into engineering curricula? Are details provided by which the methods to be employed will be determined including information sources for each metric? What is the rationale for using the metrics that were selected, are they comprehensive, appropriate, and applicable to the vast majority of engineering departments? Does the proposal contain a classification system that can differentiate between institutions and will allow for accessing information based on institutional characteristics, such as: discipline, size, research or teaching, public or private? Are alternative possibilities to capture the activities of departments that may not be appropriately or adequately reflected in the proposed metrics described? Are the strategies to capture the activities of as many departments as possible within an institution effective? How are engineering faculty, departments and/or administrators that have significantly contributed to the integration of sustainability into the curricula identified? Is there a better way to capture the information?

    2. Qualifications of the PI and Other Personnel

      Do the key personnel have experience in engineering education and/or sustainability? Will all of the key personnel make a significant time commitment to the project? If it is a multi-organization proposal, are the roles of each organization clearly defined? Will the applicants have access to the necessary information to complete the benchmarking? Are there any impediments to obtaining the data? Are the facilities, personnel, project schedules, proposed management, interactions with other institutions, etc, appropriate and adequate to address all of the objectives described?

    3. QA/QC General Project Information

      Is there an adequate and appropriate QA/QC plan for data identification, collection, management, aggregation, and report? Are the procedures that will be used to evaluate the success of the project, including any plans for evaluating the study design system, in place?

    4. Budget

      Although the budget should not reflect on the application’s scientific merit, please provide your views on the appropriateness of the requested funds for the proposed project. Indicate whether any sub-contracts are more than 40%.

7. Funding Mechanism

The funding mechanism for all awards issued under NCER solicitations will consist of assistance agreements from the EPA. All award decisions are subject to the availability of funds. In accordance with Public Law 95-224, the primary purpose of a grant is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal statute, rather than acquisition for the direct benefit or use of the Agency. In issuing a grant agreement, the EPA anticipates that there will be no substantial EPA involvement in the design, implementation, or conduct of the research.

8. Expectations and Responsibilities of Grantees

Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees are summarized in this section; see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance for full terms and conditions associated with an award, including what activities require prior approval of the EPA. However, these posted terms and conditions will be modified (generally simplified) for awards under this RFA.

A. Approval of Changes after Award. Prior written approval is required from the EPA if there is to be any significant change in the project that deviates markedly from work described in the application. Examples of these changes are contained in 40 C.F.R. 30.25.

B. Human Subjects. A grant recipient must agree to meet all EPA requirements for studies using human subjects prior to implementing any work with these subjects. These requirements are given in 40 C.F.R. 26, referred to as the “Common Rule.” No work involving human subjects, including recruiting, may be initiated before the EPA has received a copy of the Institutional Review Board’s (IRB) approval of the project and the EPA has also provided approval. Where human subjects are involved in the research, the recipient must provide evidence of subsequent IRB reviews, including amendments or minor changes of protocol, as part of annual reports.

C. Animal Welfare. A grant recipient must agree to comply with the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-554), as amended. All projects involving vertebrate animals must have approval from the applying organization’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee before issuance of an EPA grant.

D. Data Access and Information Release. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances. Data that are (1) first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed through FOIA. All data sets, models, and databases developed under NCER grants may become accessible to the public and, therefore, freely available to all researchers. If such data are requested by the public, the EPA must ask for it, and the grantee must submit it, in accordance with A-110 and EPA regulations at 40 C.F.R. 30.36.

E. Reports. A grant recipient must agree to provide annual progress reports with associated summaries for posting on NCER’s website, and a final report with an executive summary for web posting.

F. Acknowledgement of EPA Support. A grant recipient must agree to provide copies of any peer reviewed journal article(s) resulting from the research during the project period. In addition, the recipient should notify the EPA Project Officer of any papers published after completion of the grant that were based on research supported by the grant. NCER intends to post references to all publications resulting from the grant on the NCER web site.

EPA’s full or partial support should be acknowledged in journal articles, oral or poster presentations, news releases, interviews with reporters and other communications. Any documents developed under the agreement for distribution to the public or inclusion in a scientific, technical, or other journal shall include the following statement:

This publication [article] was developed under a NCER Research Assistance Agreement No. __________ awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It has not been formally reviewed by the EPA. The views expressed in this document are solely those of [name of recipient] and the EPA does not endorse any products or commercial services mentioned in this publication.

A graphic that can be converted to a slide or used in other ways, such as on a poster, is located at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance/star_images.html. Use of this graphic in oral and poster presentations is expected.

9. Contacts

Additional general information on other NCER grants programs, including the Science To Achieve Results (STAR) program, forms used for applications, etc., may be obtained by exploring our web page at http://www.epa.gov/ncer. Specific technical questions should be directed to the EPA contact person whose name is provided in each solicitation.

Further information, if needed, for this RFA may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.

Technical: Julie Zimmerman; Phone: 202-343-9689; email: zimmerman.julie@epa.gov
Eligibility: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

10. Privacy Act and Public Burden Statements

This RFA requests information for proposal forms and in final reports. The information on proposal forms, including quality-related data, will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers as part of the proposal review process, and to other government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in order to coordinate programs. Submission of the information is voluntary. However, failure to provide full and complete information may reduce the possibility of receiving an award. The OMB control number for this collection (General Administrative Requirements for Assistance Programs) is 2030-0020 (expires 2005). EPA regulations, as stated in 40 C.F.R. 30.54, require the inclusion of data quality planning documents, which are covered by Quality Assurance Specification and Requirements, OMB # 2080-0033.

11. Applicable Federal Citations

Awards by the EPA are made and administered under the authority of 40 C.F.R. Part 30 and 40, and applicable statutes.

Sorting Code
The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described above in the special instructions. The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2004-NCER-WW.

Submission Dates and Times

Applications must be received by the application receipt date listed in this announcement. If an application is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.

The following is the schedule for this RFA. It should be noted that this schedule may be changed without notification due to factors that were not anticipated at the time of announcement.

Application Receipt Date: August 3, 2004, 4:00 p.m. E.S.T.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: January 12, 2005

Funding Restrictions

Requests for amounts in excess of a total of $350,000, including direct and indirect costs, will not be considered.

Budgetary requirements will be found in Sections 2G and 2H of the Special Instructions. The applicant must present a detailed, itemized budget for the entire project. If a sub-agreement, such as a sub-contract, is included in the application, provide a separate budget for the sub-contract in the same format. Include the total amount for the sub-agreement under “Contracts” in the master budget. Any project which contains a sub-agreement that constitutes more than 40% of the total direct cost of the grant will be subject to special internal review. Additional justification for use of such a sub-contract must be provided, discussing the need for this agreement to accomplish the objectives of the research project.

Other Submission Requirements

Because of security concerns, applications cannot be personally delivered. They must be sent through regular mail, express mail, or a major courier.

The following address must be used for regular mail:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-NCER-WW
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

The following address must be used for express mail and couriers:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Peer Review Division (8725F)
Sorting Code: 2004-NCER-WW
1025 F. Street, NW (Room 3500)
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: (202) 233-0686
Additional information on submission requirements will be found in Section 4 of the Special Instructions.

APPLICATION REVIEW INFORMATION

Criteria

Consideration of an application’s merit is based on the following criteria: (1) Research Program; (2) Qualifications of the PI & Personnel; (3) QA/QC; and (4) Budget. Although budget information does not reflect on the application’s scientific merit, the reviewers are asked to provide their view on the appropriateness and/or adequacy of the proposed budget. Additional information on review criteria will be found in Section 6B of the Special Instructions.

Review and Selection Process

All grant applications will be reviewed by an appropriate technical peer review panel. This review is designed to evaluate each proposal according to the peer review criteria (see above). Applications that receive scores of “excellent” and “very good” from the peer reviewers are subjected to a programmatic review within the EPA. Recommendations on funding will then be given to the NCER Director who will make the funding decisions. Selected applicants will be required to provide additional information and the application will be forwarded to the grants administration office for final approval and award in accordance with the EPA’s procedures. Additional information on the review and selection process will be found in Section 6A of the Special Instructions.

AWARD ADMINISTRATION INFORMATION

Award Notices

Applicants will be notified about selection decisions within approximately four months of the application deadline. A summary statement of the scientific review by the peer panel will be provided to each applicant with the award or declination letter.

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Expectations and responsibilities of NCER grantees will be found in Section 8 of the Special Instructions. Terms and conditions associated with an NCER award can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ncer/guidance.

Reporting

NCER grantees will be required to provide annual progress reports and a final technical report.

AGENCY CONTACT(S)

Further information, if needed, may be obtained from the EPA officials indicated below. Email inquiries are preferred.

Technical: Julie Zimmerman; Phone: 202-343-9689; email: zimmerman.julie@epa.gov
Eligibility: Thomas Barnwell; Phone: 202-343-9862; email: barnwell.thomas@epa.gov

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