EDF Climate Corps Finds $350 Million in Energy Savings

September 13, 2010

(Washington, DC – Sept. 14, 2010) This summer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) placed specially-trained MBA students at 47 leading companies — including Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Target, Verizon and Xerox — to search out big energy savings. These EDF Climate Corps fellows uncovered energy efficiency opportunities that represent net operating savings of more than $350 million and over 400,000 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Since the program’s inception just three years ago, EDF Climate Corps has grown exponentially, from 7 MBA fellows in 2008 to 26 fellows in 2009 and 51 fellows this past summer. Over this three year period, the fellows have uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems that can avoid 557,000 metric tons in annual carbon emissions – equivalent to taking 86,000 SUVs off the road – and cut the equivalent of 958 million kilowatt hours of energy use per year – enough to power 85,000 homes. These energy initiatives could save participating companies a total of $439 million over the project lifetimes. To date, projects accounting for 84 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008 and 2009 fellows are either complete or underway.

“Our EDF Climate Corps fellows bring a laser-like focus to finding energy savings, and the financial and environmental results speak for themselves,” said Victoria Mills, Managing Director at EDF. “We call on companies across America to join us in harvesting the power and potential of energy efficiency.”

In 2010, the EDF Climate Corps host companies welcomed MBA students from top-ranked business schools including the University of Chicago, the University of Michigan, Duke University, University of California at Berkeley, New York University and the University of Virginia, among many others. With support and training from EDF, the fellows developed detailed energy-efficiency investment and implementation plans for each company to cut carbon pollution from facilities and equipment while boosting the bottom line.

Energy use from commercial buildings accounts for 18 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. EDF Climate Corps fellows ferret out savings that companies can benefit from and build upon year after year, such as improving lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems, among other strategies.

“Our EDF Climate Corps fellow had the skills and training to dive deeply into projects. Her pilot project identified the potential for up to an 80% reduction in electricity costs for AT&T across more than 100 million square feet of space,” said John Schinter, AT&T’s Executive Director of Energy.

As a testimony to the value of the program, several of the 2010 host companies are repeat participants in the EDF Climate Corps — among them Cisco, eBay, Genzyme, Savvis, SunGard and Yahoo! “The tremendous value of the EDF Climate Corps program is clear to us,” said Christina Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo! “We are saving tens of millions of kilowatt hours per year of energy from previous projects identified by our first Climate Corps fellow, so we jumped at the chance to sign up again. Our 2010 fellow uncovered even more opportunities for saving energy in our data centers and building systems.”

Along with building the business case for energy efficiency, EDF Climate Corps fellows also developed tools and strategies to help companies institutionalize energy efficiency. Cummins, a global manufacturer of commercial engines and power generation systems, joined the program this summer by sponsoring two EDF Climate Corps fellows working in energy efficiency and new building standards. “We had high expectations for our EDF Climate Corps fellows as MBA students with special skills in energy and lifecycle analysis. This unique external viewpoint proved hugely beneficial in our development of new sustainable building standards – enabling tremendous progress in a few short months” said Mike Molnar, director of environmental policy and sustainable development at Cummins.

EDF partners with Net Impact to recruit fellows for the EDF Climate Corps program. Net Impact is a preeminent network of students and professionals using the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world. This year, 25 percent of the 200-plus MBA applicants were chosen to participate in the program.

For more information on EDF Climate Corps, visit http://edfclimatecorps.org. For video highlighting EDF Climate Corps fellows, visit http://youtu.be/EaCqgujNW_U.