Editor's Note: We are pleased to present the first in a series of postcards from 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellows. This year EDF dispatched its fellows to 88 companies, local governments and public school systems. The fellows are tasked with developing strategies and solutions that increases energy efficiency. Our first postcard from the field comes from Ravindra Bhandari, who is an MBA candidate at Babson College and is working with AT&T during his fellowship. Stay tuned for more postcards from this year's fellows on GreenBiz, and read posts from past years at GreenBiz.com/EDFClimateCorps.
I distinctly remember watching “An Inconvenient Truth” when the documentary was first released. It struck a deep emotional chord in me. I felt an obligation to do something but did not know where to begin.
When I learned where I would be posted for the summer, I wondered what does AT&T -- a telecommunications company -- have to do with energy or water management? But then, during the first few days at AT&T’s headquarters in downtown Dallas, Tex., I learned that:
With such a significant impact, AT&T wants to reduce its energy and water footprint for the long-term sustainability of its operations. To tackle this problem, AT&T teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund to find innovative solutions for reducing the overall water consumption at cooling towers, which use a surprising amount of water to keep buildings cool. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I had a unique opportunity to engage in this work and help develop our approach for finding significant water, energy and cost savings.
Our approach was to tackle the problem on three fronts:
Next page: Taking on the challenges
With our three-pronged approach in hand, we undertook a pilot program to evaluate our strategy and begin building a business case to scale the effort within AT&T.
Implementing the pilots was not always a smooth process, but the bumps we encountered along the way taught us valuable lessons for rolling this out more broadly. Some of these lessons were:
One of the benefits of pilot projects is to work out some of these hiccups before the project is scaled. The lessons we’re learning will make AT&T smarter for the next phase of the project.
Sharing the lessons
By working together, AT&T and EDF have the power to spread the knowledge that saving water is not only the right thing to do, but can also lead to significant cost savings throughout the industry. This unique initiative can potentially impact the way companies think about their water usage and lead to billions of gallons of water saved annually.
As I return to school, the pilots will continue to run. I'm inspired and proud to know that AT&T and EDF are pursuing water savings before the well runs dry!