Top MBA Students Catalyze Energy Efficiency Investments in Corporate America

May 17, 2011
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(Boston, Mass.)  Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) kicks off another season of EDF Climate Corps, placing 57 specially-trained MBA students in 49 leading companies to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans that cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Since the program began in 2008, EDF Climate Corps fellows have uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems that can:

  • Save $439 million in net operational costs over the project lifetimes
  • Cut the equivalent of 958 million kilowatt hours of energy use annually – enough to power 85,000 homes for a year
  • Avoid over 557,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – equivalent to taking more than 86,000 SUVs off the road for a year

To date, companies report that projects representing 86 percent of the energy savings identified by EDF Climate Corps fellows are complete or underway. The full range of energy efficiency projects recommended by EDF Climate Corps fellows is available online. Examples of projects being implemented by 2010 host companies include:

  • AT&T will install occupancy sensors in its 250 largest central offices over the next two years. Jen Snook, an MBA student at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, made the case that installing occupancy sensors—shutting off the lights in an empty room—could yield an 80 percent savings in lighting system energy use over 100 million square feet of space.
  • Diversey is implementing a set of tools to measure energy use recommended by Adam Ostaszewski, an MBA student from the Olin School of Business at Babson College. Adam contributed to the development of a tool that analyzes costs and energy opportunities across the company's global building portfolio. He also created a tool to track savings from avoided travel. Diversey estimates $6 million in annual savings from avoided travel that can be invested in other energy projects.  

  • Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) is developing a lighting retrofit program across the organization based in part on contributions from Nick Fassler, a University of Michigan MBA student. During his fellowship Nick calculated that by upgrading the lighting in most of HCA's more than 160 hospitals, the company could save 82 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, avoiding 52,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually and $14.7 million in net operating costs over the project's lifetime. The program is expected to begin rolling out in late 2011.
  • SunGard found quick savings by changing the lighting timers in its New York City office. The no-cost project, which yielded savings of $20,000 annually, is one of five initiatives the company is implementing thanks to the work of Rich Tesler, an MBA who completed his fellowship while pursuing a second master's degree at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

"A compelling business case can make a real difference in getting energy efficiency projects implemented, but company managers seldom have the time to build it," said Victoria Mills, managing director at EDF. "EDF Climate Corps fellows provide highly skilled human capital to mobilize cost-effective investments in energy efficiency."

EDF Climate Corps has grown eightfold since the program began in 2008 with seven fellows. Half of this summer's host companies are repeat participants, including Diversey, eBay, Eaton and REI. New participants in 2011 include Citigroup, Mack Trucks, Nestle Waters North America, Quality Technology Services, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Union Pacific.

EDF Climate Corps also has a public-sector arm that will place 39 specially-trained graduate students in 28 colleges, universities, local governments and places of worship this summer. Launched in 2009, EDF Climate Corps public sector works with minority-serving institutions and diverse communities to cut costs and carbon pollution by improving energy efficiency.

For more information on EDF Climate Corps and details on how to host a fellow in 2012, visit edfclimatecorps.org. "Like" us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EDFClimateCorps.

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

Full list of companies participating in EDF Climate Corps for 2011:

adidas, AT&T, Avon, Belk, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Booz Allen Hamilton, CA Technologies, Carnival, Citigroup, Coinstar (Redbox), Cricket Communications, CSX, Cummins, Dave & Buster's, Dunkin' Brands, Eaton, eBay, Ernst & Young, Facebook, Firmenich, Gaylord Entertainment, Genzyme, Hospital Corporation of America, Humana, Ingersoll Rand, JohnsonDiversey, Joie de Vivre Hospitality, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kettle Cuisine, Mack Trucks (Volvo North America), McDonald's, Microsoft, Nestlé Waters North America, News Corporation (Dow Jones), PNC, Procter & Gamble, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Publicis Groupe (VivaKi), Quality Technology Services, Royal Bank of Scotland Group (Citizens Bank), REI, SAP, ServiceMaster, Shorenstein Realty Services, SunGard, Target, Union Pacific, ViaWest, Washington Gas