Inspiring and training future (climate) change agents

Svetlana Zenkin

Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr

A few weeks ago, I joined more than a hundred other students in San Francisco for the sixth annual EDF Climate Corps Training event. I had no idea what to expect over the five days of intensive energy efficiency training.

What I found were hours of fascinating conversations with people who are just as passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability as I am — not to mention a group of dynamic alumni speakers and energetic networking sessions.

At the end of the training, two things were clear: I was proud to be a part of EDF Climate Corps and eager to start working for my host organization, Williams-Sonoma, Inc.

Now, just a few weeks into my fellowship at Williams-Sonoma, I have been able to speak with confidence about energy benchmarking and tout the positive aspects of energy efficiency investments in executive meetings. The ultimate goal is to improve the company’s bottom line by reducing energy use and lowering greenhouse gas emissions – a win-win for business and the environment. EDF Climate Corps staff and ECOVA trainers really hammered this home at the training.

However, I left EDF Climate Corps training with more than just the technical tools for this summer. I felt inspired and motivated by EDF’s energy and climate policy work in California, and how my work as an EDF Climate Corps fellow has an impact on EDF’s regional goals.

For example, I particularly enjoyed learning about EDF’s continued role in the implementation of AB-32, California’s landmark law that set an absolute statewide limit on greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks in part to EDF, the law has strengthened California’s commitment to transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy, helped put climate change front and center on the national agenda and spurred similar action by states and regions across the US.

Addressing climate change calls for coordinated action from a variety of stakeholders: individuals, nonprofits, government, private sector and academia. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I know I’m helping EDF strengthen its partnerships with all of its stakeholders. I’m a part of the force helping to show these partners that energy efficiency projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can also bolster financial success.

I feel grateful to be a part of the EDF Climate Corps Network, which comprises so many accomplished, dynamic and fun individuals who are following their passion and pursuing careers in energy and sustainability.

At the training, I met fellows who had served in the Peace Corps, taught English in Japan and founded composting startups. There were others who have already earned doctorate degrees, and worked at prestigious think tanks and Fortune 500 companies. Climate change is a challenging and urgent problem, but it’s hard not to feel hopeful upon meeting so many talented individuals dedicating their careers to making climate change a priority. No matter our backgrounds, we all recognize that it must be resolved, one EDF Climate Corps fellow at a time.

This post first appeared on our EDF Climate Corps blog.

About EDF Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps ( taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment by placing specially-trained EDF fellows in companies, cities and universities as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has found an average of $1 million in energy savings for each participant. For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at

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