The Best in Green Media

event with screen at front of room, Planet Forward slide apparent, with panelists at table, speaker at podium & audience members
December 15, 2010

A student-produced video on the U.S. Navy’s Riverine Command Boat—the first Marine vessel to operate on algae-based biofuel—is expected to play during a one-hour Earth Day special on PBS.

Created by GW students Lauren Hoenemeyer and Kimberly Kroll, “A Shipload of Algae” received top honors—and a shot at PBS—at the Planet Forward Film Festival Dec. 13 in GW’s Marvin Center Amphitheater.

Hosted by Planet Forward founder Frank Sesno, director of GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, the event showcased 10 student-produced videos aimed at advancing the debate on energy efficiency and innovation. Students were asked to incorporate a “digital strategy” into their pieces, including blogs and links to help the public connect with their idea.

A panel, which included GW President Steven Knapp and Jeff Nesbit, director of legislative and public affairs at the National Science Foundation, critiqued each video submission. At the conclusion of the viewings, the panelists and audience members voted for their favorite video via text message.

“A Shipload of Algae” featured an interview with Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, director of the U.S. Navy Energy and Environment Readiness Division, who described the U.S. Navy’s efforts to decrease the use of fossil fuels. The Riverine Command Boat uses a blend of 50 percent algae-based fuel and 50 percent NATO F-76 shipboard fuel.

The video also featured several GW students testing algae biofuel production.

Mr. Nesbit congratulated the winning team on effectively translating their story, telling them it was “quite an achievement.”

Dr. Knapp echoed Mr. Nesbit’s statement, saying the video conveyed a “powerful message.”

Planet Forward is multiyear web-to-television initiative that examines issues of energy, climate and sustainability, and asks citizens and experts alike to “make their case” for an idea they think is game changing. Combining the reach of social media and the visibility of public broadcasting, Planet Forward looks for original ideas and research, informed opinion, and firsthand experience to feature online and on television.

Other video submissions included using methane gas as a source of renewable fuel; a new waste-to-fuel initiative at the D.C. Water Authority; a window-retrofitting program at the Empire State Building; and the efforts of Casey Trees to rebuild the District’s tree canopy.

“What impressed me about all the pieces is that they all combined information with passion,” said Mr. Sesno. “These videos are really important and relevant to the sustainability discussion.”

Learning & Research