AT&T, eBay, HCA Tap Energy Saving Rewards With EDF Climate Corps

As any energy manager knows, it's one thing to find energy-saving projects that are worth doing, and quite another to get them implemented.

Over the last three years, EDF Climate Corps fellows have uncovered almost a billion kilowatt hours of potential energy savings, representing $439 million in net operating savings. But our biggest question has always been, "Will the companies move forward with those energy-saving investments after the fellows leave?"

Thankfully, the answer is yes: So far, companies report that they are implementing projects accounting for 86 percent of the savings identified by EDF Climate Corps fellows.

This year, as we looked back on three years of results, we noticed that many of the projects that were implemented first were lighting projects. For example, Hospital Corporation of America will roll out a lighting retrofit program across the organization, and eBay recently upgraded the lighting in a 60,000-square foot building on its San Jose campus. Other companies are employing devices to make sure the lights are on only when people need them: AT&T will install occupancy sensors in its 250 largest central offices, and SunGard is optimizing the lighting timers in its New York City office.

This is no surprise if you've ever looked at the ROI on lighting projects. The upfront costs tend to be relatively low -- zero in the case of delamping or switching timer settings -- so payback time is short. And lighting projects are pretty straightforward to identify. You can often spot ways to cut lighting costs just by walking through a building, and use a $50 light logger to document when the lights are on and don't need to be, as our fellow at AT&T did.

Beyond lighting, EDF Climate Corps companies are also implementing upgrades to HVAC systems, office equipment, and data centers. Eaton is moving forward with an air circulation improvement in a North Carolina plant that could yield an annual electricity reduction of 2.5 million kWh. eBay is currently installing power management software for all of its PCs. And Cisco has raised temperatures in some of its research labs, which could save the company about $1.8 million and 18 million kWh of electricity annually.