EDF Climate Corps Unearths $650 Million in Energy Savings

September 21, 2011
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Contact: Jasper Jung, EDF, jjung@edf.org, (202) 572-3395

(Boston, Mass. – September 21, 2011) Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced the results of this summer’s EDF Climate Corps fellowships, which placed 96 specially-trained MBA and MPA students in 78 companies, cities and universities to sleuth out energy savings and carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions. Together, the 2011 Climate Corps fellows uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems that could:

  • Cut 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity use and 27 million therms of natural gas annually, equivalent to the annual energy use of 38,000 homes;
  • Avoid 440,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of 87,000 passenger vehicles; and
  • Save $650 million in net operational costs over the project lifetimes.

“In this economy, everyone is looking for ways to save, and energy efficiency is a huge, and largely untapped, opportunity,” said Victoria Mills, managing director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships program. “EDF Climate Corps has shown once again the magnitude of cost savings and carbon pollution reductions available to organizations that know how to look for them.”

EDF created Climate Corps to cut carbon pollution by overcoming the barriers that prevent organizations from investing in energy efficiency. Now in its fourth year, EDF Climate Corps has grown from seven fellows in 2008 to 96 in 2011. To date, projects accounting for 86 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008-2010 fellows are complete or underway.

EDF Climate Corps fellows work with host organizations to capture immediate energy savings through equipment modifications and upgrades and also on strategic projects – such as employee engagement campaigns and decision-support tools – that deliver systemic and lasting reductions in energy use and carbon pollution.

  • McDonald’s worked with Pia Jean Kristiansen, an EDF Climate Corps fellow and MBA candidate from the University of Michigan, to find creative ways to engage the company’s estimated 700,000 U.S. restaurant employees in energy efficiency initiatives.  Kristiansen’s work will result in an educational video developed to educate employees on ways to reduce an average restaurant’s energy consumption up to 10 percent.
  • Neal Tsay, an EDF Climate Corps fellow and MBA candidate from UCLA, worked with sustainability leaders at Target to develop a plan to achieve its commitment to earn ENERGY STAR ratings for 75 percent of its U.S. buildings by 2015. Additionally, Tsay sought to improve energy efficiency in Target stores by proposing initiatives that could eliminate 50,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year and generate several million dollars in annual energy savings.

Buildings account for 70 percent of electricity consumption and more than a third of carbon pollution in the United States. Because opportunities to save energy are not limited to the private sector, EDF expanded Climate Corps in 2009 by placing fellows in cities and universities. "Cities, colleges and others can make smart energy investments just like companies," said Michael Regan, EDF director of energy efficiency. "The program is building a diverse movement to transform how people think about energy efficiency and make it a top priority for everyone who pays a utility bill."

  • The New York City Housing Authority learned how to reduce annual heating costs by $58 million, thanks to a plan developed by EDF Climate Corps fellows Harrison Thomas and Amy Kochanowsky, who are working on degrees in business, environmental management and public policy at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Their findings could cut the housing authority’s annual energy costs by 11 percent.
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) University discovered it could save $2.5 million over the next five years by implementing the recommendations from EDF Climate Corps fellows LaKausha Simpson, a PhD candidate in engineering at A&T, and Jonathan Wilson, an MBA candidate at Wake Forest University. A&T's investments in energy efficiency measures, such as improved lighting, will pay for themselves in only three months.

See the full list of organizations participating in EDF Climate Corps and the energy-saving projects recommended in 2011. EDF Climate Corps is now recruiting fellows and host organizations for 2012. For more information, please visit edfclimatecorps.org or email info@edfclimatecorps.org.

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About Environmental Defense Fund: Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. For more information, visit edf.org.

About EDF Climate Corps: EDF Climate Corps (edfclimatecorps.org) places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to build the business case for energy efficiency. EDF Climate Corps fellows analyze energy-saving opportunities and develop custom energy efficiency investment plans that cut costs and carbon emissions.