7 Reasons to Enlist Your Company in EDF's Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps

7 Reasons to Enlist Your Company in EDF's Climate Corps

Many of us have experienced gaps between knowledge and action. We may know something in theory, but have a hard time putting it into practice. Sometimes we need a little help to take the first step.

Last summer, EDF Climate Corps proved that energy efficiency is a win-win solution for businesses to cut costs, energy bills and carbon emissions.

This year, we already have an impressive list of 31 leading corporations eager to lower their emissions and energy bills in Climate Corps 2011. We welcome new participants Dunkin' Brands, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft and returning companies adidas, Carnival, RBS Citizens Bank, P&G and Yahoo!

The Climate Corps program's success is grounded in clear results: Since its founding in 2008, we've found enough energy savings to power 85,000 homes at a net benefit to participating companies of $439 million. Saving money while reducing a company's carbon footprint seems like a no-brainer. Why doesn't every company choose to participate?

We are confident the program can add value to nearly every organization. Our conversations with hundreds of companies of all shapes and sizes have revealed some initial hesitations about hiring a Climate Corps fellow. Yet many of these companies end up participating in the program and go on to rave about their experience.

Here are some common concerns and our solutions to encourage your company to join the energy efficiency movement:

1. My company already has an in-house teams working on energy efficiency. -- Further your energy mission by hiring a fellow to serve as an extra resource.

EDF Climate Corps fellows provide a fresh perspective and an extra set of skilled hands that complement the work of an in-house team. John Schinter, executive director of energy at AT&T, hired an EDF Climate Corps fellow to work on an existing lighting project. Through the project, Jen Snook, Duke MBA, identified steps that if implemented could potentially result in an 80 percent savings in energy use across more than 100 million square feet of space.

2. My company is already a recognized green leader. -- Look deeper than you already have to advance the sustainability work of your company.

Many of the companies that participate in Climate Corps are already quite progressive in the field of sustainability.

EMC, recognized as one of Corporate Responsibility's Magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens" joined EDF Climate Corps to search for opportunities beyond the "low-hanging fruit" of energy efficiency. Ian Lavery, MIT MBA, examined initiatives for the company's facilities that could save approximately $443,000 annually and reduce 1,900 metric tons of GHG emissions.

3. My company already has a long -- and overwhelming -- list of energy projects waiting for implementation. -- Hire a fellow to prioritize your energy investments.

Many fellows spend their summers identifying and analyzing lighting, HVAC and computer power management investments, but a number of our fellows end up working on strategic projects to help prioritize existing initiatives.

Koji Kitazume, Duke MBA, helped McDonald's to develop a tool that quantifies the financial and environmental impact of the company's energy efficiency efforts and prioritize investments. He was able to use this tool to calculate ways that the company could cut approximately 2,993,000 kWh of electricity usage and avoid 1,799 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.

4. I'm stuck in a capital-constrained environment. -- Identify more energy savings opportunities than it costs to find them.

Every single Climate Corps fellow to date has identified more energy saving opportunities in 10 weeks than the upfront cost of hiring him/her.

Jonathan Stone, NYU MBA, spent 10 weeks spearheading a lighting retrofit at the Dow Jones printing plant. In total, he identified projects that could reduce energy costs by approximately $179,524 annually and avoid 942 metric tons of GHG emissions.

5. My company is large, complex and hard to navigate. -- Let your fellow use all the skills he/she has learned to make a meaningful impact within your company.

One of the added values of EDF Climate Corps is our rigorous training for the fellows before they start their fellowships. The training includes modules on dismantling organizational barriers, engaging employees, and deciphering the right places to look and people to talk to for information.

In order to gather data and analyze energy-saving investments at Carnival, Mandy Martin, USC IMBA, worked with as many as 50 people on a day-to-day basis. The EDF Climate Corps training helped prepare Mandy to make recommendations that could benefit Carnival not only at its headquarters in Miami, but also in other shore-side facilities and the company's fleet of ships.

6.  Typical interns require a lot of hand-holding. -- Hire an MBA student who has been selected to participate in EDF Climate Corps as a self-starter who doesn't require constant supervision.

In hiring the best and brightest MBA students across the county, our screening process requires that our fellows be self-starters with exceptional financial acumen and project management and consulting experience.

At adidas, Elizabeth Turnbull, Yale MBA/MEM, assessed the Reebok world headquarters in Canton, MA and adidas' distribution facility in Spartanburg, SC.  She identified many energy savings that could be captured through managing existing systems with no up-front cost. Elizabeth's project portfolio could save adidas $336,300 annually and represents over $1.5M in net-present value.

7.  My company already hosted a Climate Corps fellow -- where's the sense in doing it again? -- Join dozens of repeat companies for additional savings.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies signed on for 2011 have hosted Climate Corps fellows before. For companies like Genzyme, Shorenstein, SunGard and Yahoo, 2011 will be their third year of participation. It's clear that once a fellow has picked the initial'low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency, greater opportunities for long-term savings lie deeper within a company, calling for multiple stages of energy analyses.

Image -- 2010 EDF Climate Corps Fellow Koji Kitazume, who spent his summer at McDonald's, with the Golden Arches' Director of Global Energy Jerry Sus. Photo by Maria Ponce via EDF.

This content is cross-posted on EDF's Innovation Exchange blog and is reprinted with permission. More information about the Climate Corps is available at edf.org/climatecorps.