Saving energy is focus of EDF Climate Corps

How a small cadre of grad students help top companies trim energy waste

EDF Climate Corps fellow Madhura Karnik, left, uncovered $49,000 in annual energy savings for a Volvo Construction Equipment manufacturing facility.
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For many organizations, clean energy management is one of those pie-in-the-sky goals: Desirable, but difficult.

Enter EDF's Climate Corps, who specialize in removing the obstacles to cutting energy costs or building out a sustainability plan.

How it works:

  1. Beginning each summer, dozens of top-tier graduate students enter our intensive course on sustainable energy management.
  2. They're then embedded at a wide variety of host organizations, such as Google, the City of Austin, and Proctor and Gamble.
  3. The fellows spend the rest of their summer making practical recommendations that reduce energy waste, trim carbon emissions, and save money at their host organization.

Fellows focus on the typical barriers that stand in the way of companies saving energy, such as the absence of project sharing, lack of energy use data or analytical tools, or unpredictable funding levels.

After our fellows graduate, many go on to become sustainability officers, armed with real-world sustainability expertise. How to host a fellow.

Elizabeth Turnbull Henry

EDF Climate Corps alum Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, left, now helps Adidas Group on an in-house venture capital fund based on projects that offer attractive returns and reduced emissions.

Case study: Adidas

At many organizations, energy efficiency projects never get off the ground because of tight capital budgets, and an inability to quantify and track energy spending. Additionally, even when energy capital is available and successful projects are completed, the savings brought in are not appropriately redeployed to further more energy-saving measures. 

Our fellows can step in and solve these challenges. For example, EDF Climate Corps fellow and Yale MBA alum Elizabeth Turnbull Henry has helped the Adidas Group develop an in-house venture capital fund. 

"I look at carbon reduction projects as a venture capitalist might: a portfolio of value-creating investments," Turnbull Henry says. "I rigorously scout, evaluate and invest in efficiency projects because they deliver great financial savings and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions." 

Who in your network could use a fellow?

Almost any business executive or organizational manager is familiar with the barriers to a new project, and energy management projects carry additional unique obstacles that require extra know-how and resources. An EDF Climate Corps fellow is the highly trained extra hand on deck to make these investments happen.

With every new organization that participates in Climate Corps, we not only trim waste and greenhouse gases, we also gain innovative new ideas to make clean energy management happen.

We're seeking more companies and organizations to host fellows interested in experiencing the benefits of implementing research-backed energy management business models into their operations.

  • 27Fortune 100 companies have hosted EDF Climate Corps fellows
  • 400MBA and MPA students have served as EDF Climate Corps fellows
  • 60of our 2013 fellows worked on complex data analysis

Featured on Showtime

The Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously features EDF's Climate Corps fellows on their quest to solve energy problems at leading organizations.

Go behind the scenes »