EDF's Climate Corps Focuses on Energy Efficiencies

MBA students from top business schools across the country helped companies uncover energy efficiencies that could save $35 million in net operational costs over five years while preventing 57,000 tons of carbon pollution, according to a Dec. 3 press release.

These are the results of the Climate Corps program, a groundbreaking initiative designed by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) that trains business students to identify energy-efficient strategies that will reduce the negative environmental impacts of company operations while benefiting the bottom line.

EDF selected the 2008 Climate Corps Fellows from the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and Rice University, among others, and placed them in summer fellowships at companies such as Yahoo! Inc., Cisco, Intuit, NVIDIA, Salesforce.com, Crescent Real Estate, and KKR. With technical support from EDF, Climate Corps fellows spent 12 weeks identifying and analyzing energy-efficiency opportunities and developing detailed investment and implementation plans.

The seven Climate Corps Fellows found better efficiencies in the areas of lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems. In addition to saving costs and preventing emissions, the efficiencies would conserve more than 119 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power 10,000 homes.

Climate Corps Fellows also helped accelerate their host companies' sustainability initiatives. "Cisco has committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2012. Our labs account for almost 70 percent of our carbon footprint, so we must reduce their energy consumption significantly in order to meet our goal. Our Climate Corps Fellow came on board so quickly that we got started on our R&D lab initiative several months sooner than expected," said John Haley, senior manager, workplace resources, Cisco.

"As a results-driven organization, EDF designed the Climate Corps program to help corporations realize real cost-savings through energy-efficiency while developing tangible sustainability strategies,'" said Millie Chu Baird, project manager for corporate partnerships at EDF. "Despite widespread discussion about the greening of business, many companies remain unaware of practical, cost-effective strategies they can take to capture both environmental and business benefits. Our next step is to grow the Climate Corps program and develop a set of best practices we can share with corporations around the country."

For the second year of the Climate Corps program, EDF will work with Net Impact to recruit, train, and place MBA-level Fellows in companies and widely share the first year's results with business communities across the country. EDF and Net Impact are looking for forward-thinking businesses interested in hosting a 2009 Climate Corps fellow. For more information, visit www.edf.org/climatecorps.