by Jon Coifman
Each year Environmental Defense Fund hand-picks a small army of graduate students – mostly MBAs – from top schools, gives them specialized training, and pairs them up for the summer with companies, cities and other large organizations to find cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities and create the business strategies to capitalize on them.
New results released last week are nothing short of remarkable: According to the latest analysis, these EDF Climate Corps fellows have found an average of $1 million in energy savings opportunities during each ten- to twelve-week engagement – most with a payback of less than three years.
So far, the program is responsible for at least $150 million in new investments in energy solutions.
Energy efficiency can be a goldmine, but digging for it takes resources not every organization has (or thinks it has). It’s also a renewable resource for companies, which rarely run out of cost-effective opportunities to trim their energy use. That has made EDF Climate Corps a valuable asset whether the host already has a well-established energy management effort in place or they’re just getting started:
- “By day two on the job, our EDF fellow saved us $100,000,” said Les Holmes, Director of Real Estate at publisher Bloomberg BNA.
- “We are saving tens of millions of kilowatt hours per year from projects identified by our first Climate Corps fellow, so we jumped at the chance to sign up again,” says Christina Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo.
- “For three years running, EDF Climate Corps has been a great resource for REI, finding opportunities throughout our business, and identifying real, practical solutions we can bank on,” said Kirk Myers at the outdoor retailer REI.
- “We have hosted six fellows over the years, and each time they have far exceeded expectations. The investment is a no-brainer,” says Scott Tew of Ingersoll Rand.
Nearly 200 organizations have taken advantage of the program since it started five years ago. Participating companies in 2012 range from IT digital giants Google and Facebook to major manufacturers like Boeing, Caterpillar and Mack trucks. Both AT&T and Verizon signed up. So did Dunkin’ donuts and the Carnival cruise line.
Non-profit and public sector hosts include National Geographic, Howard University, and the City of Los Angeles, along with the public schools in Boston, Chicago and Houston, and housing authorities in New York, Philadelphia and El Paso (Detailed stories about all Climate Corps projects are available here.)
Fellows typically come to the program with backgrounds in engineering, energy or environmental management, or finance. They work in data centers, office buildings, factories, hospitals, and a host of other commercial and residential facilities. Their specialties include advanced lighting and climate controls; employee engagement; financial analytics; and strategic planning.
EDF Climate Corps is now accepting applications for companies, cities and universities to host a fellow in 2013. Find details about hosting a fellow at edfclimatecorps.org/hire-fellow or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jon Coifman works on the Corporate Partnerships team at Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems.