Climate Corps 2010: Out of 'Boot Camp' and into the Field

9:00 AM: I arrive at CSX Corporation in Jacksonville, Florida for my first day as an EDF Climate Corps fellow.

10:00 AM: I am invited to attend a meeting with the company’s environmental and facilities teams. Why did I jump out of my chair so quickly at the invitation? It’s an energy efficiency meeting, and I recently accepted a task by EDF to take a spot on the front line of the new energy efficiency movement. Talk about arriving at the right time!

My Aha! Moment: As the meeting progresses, the value of the Climate Corps training I recently attended becomes crystal clear. I am amazed by my ability to contribute to the meeting and understand the jargon, equipment, and financial and environmental metrics often used to describe and analyze energy efficiency.

Thinking back to the training, it culminated with an exercise where Climate Corps fellows worked in groups on a case study. We gathered and crunched numbers and presented our findings to our peers – much like the presentation witnessed during this meeting. In retrospect, I see the tremendous value of the lifelike exercise, consolidating my learning and allowing me to fully comprehend the perspectives of the other fellows.

That said, I occasionally felt like I was drinking from a fire hose during the training. It was definitely intense – it’s even been coined "the energy efficiency boot camp." We absorbed a variety of energy efficiency concepts, ranging from lighting to leasing to identifying key sources of energy consumption within an office building.

Daniel Frering, a professor and manager of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, taught us how to classify lighting types and understand their components.  We also learned how to quantify energy use and costs. EDF staff and Climate Corps alumni shared multiple approaches to measure and analyze a company’s energy use, including models that calculate the financial and environmental impacts of various energy efficiency strategies.

While conversing with other EDF Climate Corps fellows, I realized that several of them felt similarly. "Will we have the skills necessary to make an immediate impact at our host companies?" "Will we contribute to their understanding of energy efficiency?" I now realize that the answer to both questions is a resounding "Yes!"

EDF provided me with the knowledge and confidence to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact at CSX. I look forward to helping the company identify and prioritize potential energy efficiency investments that are appealing both financially and environmentally.  Let the summer begin!

Matthew Coleman is a 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at CSX Corporation and a Net Impact member. Matthew is pursuing an MBA at the Darden School of Business Administration, University of Virginia. This content is cross-posted at the Environmental Defense Fund Innovation Exchange Blog. Further coverage of the Climate Corps program is available at

Image courtesy of Environmental Defense Fund. Pictured: Matthew Coleman in an EDF Climate Corps training session in New York.