Being Green Just Got Easier: A fellow's recap of Climate Corps training

By Peter Petropoulos, MBA, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 2010 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Pepsi Co, Member of Net Impact

Kermit’s famous lament on the difficulty of being green rings a little less true for me today.

As a 2010 Climate Corps fellow for PepsiCo, I just completed EDF’s intense energy efficiency boot camp. As I sit at LaGuardia listening to random announcements over the airport loudspeaker and watching the hustle and bustle go by, I can’t help but think about the 50 other Climate Corps fellows participating in EDF’s program this summer.

The Climate Corps class of 2010 will be hosted by some of the world’s most influential companies this summer, all charged with uncovering energy efficiency opportunities that could increase companies’ bottom line while also reducing their carbon footprint.

I was already very excited about my summer project before arriving in NYC, but the Climate Corps training illuminated an important value-add of EDF’s program: the amazing network I just made.  Over the last several days, I met the most dynamic group of go-getters, all attending top business schools around the country who share my passion for achieving sustainability without sacrificing profits.   In the past, I have felt isolated as an environmentalist among my business school peers. I know now that there are many others that share my worldview.  Climate Corps will help me and my fellow future business leaders to tackle one of today’s most pressing issues. Read more

Solutions Labs Thunder through Nation's Capital

Look out DC! An exciting, yet unconventional conference series is storming through the nation this year and the capital city is next on the target list.

On May 27th, the Green Innovation in Business Network Solutions Labs come to Washington, DC!

Solutions Labs are one-day, interactive events where participants help craft the agenda and spend the day brainstorming ideas for accelerating green innovation while sharing their experiences and lessons. Solutions Labs provide leading thinkers and “doers” from business, academia, government and non-profit organizations the opportunity to explore the next generation of business sustainability—one in which we can grow profits for our companies and create positive impact on the planet.

What: Green Innovation in Business Network: Solutions Lab 2010 – Washington DC

When: Thursday, May 27, 2010 from 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM (ET)

Where: The George Washington University, Washington, DC

It is not too late to sign up for this event! See the full Solutions Labs schedule for 2010. Read more

And Away They Go! First Wave of EDF Climate Corps Fellows Complete Training

Last Thursday in San Francisco, Environmental Defense Fund set 24 MBA students loose into the wilds of corporate America. This group of students represents half of our popular summer fellowship program known as EDF Climate Corps. Tasked with cutting carbon emissions and energy costs for some of the largest and most innovative corporations in the world, each MBA fellow will play an instrumental role in the growing energy efficiency movement. Hailing from business schools at top-tier universities such the University of Michigan, Duke and Yale, these fellows gathered for a three-day intensive energy efficiency training hosted by EDF’s Climate Corps staff.

The fellows were shy and humble at first but like old friends by the end – already planning reunions. Over the course of the training, they took tours of downtown San Francisco skyscrapers and spoke with building engineers who explained building components from lighting to elevators, water boilers to chillers and the composition of a one-car-garage-sized absorber.

This year’s class listened to alumni fellows recall the barriers they faced during their Climate Corps fellowships and the solutions they uncovered. One fellow jokingly tugged his collar and whispered “Pressure’s on,” to his neighbor as he learned that every Climate Corps fellow has paid for him or herself a hundred times over in identified savings. The same fellow grinned as Emily Reyna told of the $8 million in energy savings she discovered during her fellowship with Cisco Systems in 2008. Read more

Hail to the Chief, Indeed: President's truck order will bring fuel-saving technologies to scale

There is no question that tools exists today to significantly reduce fuel consumption by medium and heavy-duty trucks. The recent National Academy of Sciences’ report on reducing emissions from these vehicles explored this in-depth as did another recent report from NESCAUM. The key question is: can we deploy these tools at an acceptable cost?

The answer is closer to “yes” than ever before, thanks in part to President Obama’s statement last week instructing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop rules to reduce emissions from medium and heavy-duty trucks – which consume over a quarter of the nation’s liquid fuels.

The most advanced of our fuel-saving tools, such as the hybrid system for medium-duty trucks, face a significant upfront cost barrier. While these systems can payback over the lifetime of the vehicle, the ROI timeline is too extended for most businesses to justify the cost without external incentives. Other, more incremental strategies such as single-wide tires face cultural and cost barriers as well. The resulting upfront capital cost versus long-term operating savings conundrum slows the adoption of these tools and delays emission reductions. Read more

EDFix Call #13: Challenges and Opportunities Electrifying Corporate Fleets

How will the introduction of plug-in hybrids and other electric vehicles impact commercial fleets?  Light-and-medium duty electric vehicles are either now on the market or soon will be. Companies with vehicle fleets have opportunities to help develop the market for these vehicles and make strides toward achieving their corporate sustainability goals.

Environmental Defense Fund is hosting a call series to explore opportunities to cut greenhouse gas emissions from corporate fleets. Please join us for the next call in our series when we will look towards the coming years and ask: What models are now or will soon be available for fleet use? Which duty-cycles match-up best with these vehicles? Are there challenges that are unique to corporate fleets in deploying electric vehicles?

Leading this discussion will be Mike Millikin, founder and editor of the online publication Green Car Congress (GCC).

The call is on May 24th at 12pm ET.  To join, call:

  • Phone number: +1 (213) 289-0500
  • Code: 267-6815

We look forward to having you join us in tackling these tough questions.

EDF Climate Corps: Building a movement for energy efficiency in business

This summer, 51 Climate Corps fellows will take their places on the front lines of a new movement for energy efficiency in business – a movement grounded in smart economics and fueled by the talents of the next generation of business leaders.

It’s a movement whose time has come.  Climate change is the environmental challenge of our generation, and the need for action has never been greater.  The catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has focused the nation on the need to confront our reliance on fossil fuels.  And that has renewed hope for swift action in the Senate on a climate bill.

But there’s one solution to the climate crisis that we don’t need to wait for — energy efficiency.  The opportunity is enormous: a 2009 McKinsey report estimates that by 2020, the United States could reduce its annual energy consumption by 23% through energy efficiency measures alone.  This would cut greenhouse gas emissions by over a gigaton – that’s a billion tons – and cumulatively save companies and consumers over a trillion dollars.

Energy efficiency is doable right now, it’s cost-effective, and it’s absolutely critical to slowing climate change.  But it’s not happening fast enough.  To truly take energy efficiency to scale, we need a national movement that captures the imagination of people from dorm rooms to boardrooms across the country. Read more

EDFix Call #9 Afterthoughts: Reconnecting with The Commons

EDFix Call #9 – Summary (10 min.)
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EDFix Call #9 – Full (54 min.)
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An archaic German word — allmände — refers to goods used jointly by members of a community. This call was an exploration of such goods with German Commons activist Silke Helfrich.

Five years ago, Helfrich helped organize a conference in Mexico that brought together experts in agriculture, biodiversity, genetics and more. An Argentine participant asked about folding in the concepts of open source software, precipitating a useful discussion about Common Pool Resources and their governance (you may remember CPRs from EDFix #5, with Charlotte Hess).

Three notions bubbled out of those conversations, relative to these shared resources: access, usage rights and control. The culture of open source software gives everyone the right to read, write and use the code. Why was that kind of governance not happening with land, water, seeds and other resources needed for biodiversity? Duke professor James Boyle and others have described what's happened to The Commons as a second enclosure movement.

During the first Enclosure movement, many physical Commons were replaced with private landholdings, but often with some loopholes to soften the blow. For example, the Magna Carta has a little-known companion document, the Charter of the Forest, which gave commoners access to enclosed lands for firewood, grazing their pigs and a little more. Historian Peter Linebaugh has a marvelous, slow-burning talk about this forgotten charter. Read more

Learning to Dance: Discussing Ways to Improve Partnerships for Sustainability

This is a guest post by Kevin Moss, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at BT Americas.

"When Giants Learn To Dance" was the title of Rosabeth Moss Kanter's classic book about how corporations can be both giants and innovators. Guy Clark's musical advice is "You got to dance like nobody's watching." But what if you are a large corporation, your dance is sustainability, and everyone is your dance partner who wants you to dance to their tune – your employees, your shareholders, customers and neighbors? This is the topic I'd like us to discuss during the Solutions Labs 2010.

Last year I attended the DC Unconference, organized by Environmental Defense Fund, Ashoka and the Green Innovation in Business Network as part of a series of conference-type events touring across the country, bringing leading thinkers from business, academia and organizations together to provide them with the opportunity to explore the next generation of business sustainability.  The conference topic is driving green innovation in business.  An ‘unconference’ is different from a traditional conference in that the agenda is created by participants at the beginning of the day. Anyone can bid to run a session as long as people are interested in attending it and most sessions are moderated discussions rather than presentations. As you can imagine, it is pretty free form and I found that invigorating.

This year the series has been renamed Solutions Labs 2010 and is running in 10 locations across the country. These conferences are a great opportunity for corporate responsibility practitioners to get fresh perspective by gaining input from a broad range of stakeholders outside of their corporation. Read more

The Gulf Oil Spill : A Strong Case for Mainstreaming Environmental Data and More

While BP was benefiting from the revenue upside of drilling the world’s deepest wells, were any analysts, investors and its Board wondering about the risks associated with this strategy?  Could this questioning have avoided what is proving to be one of the largest environmental disasters of our time, not to mention the untold economic ripple effect throughout our still struggling economy?  Possibly — which begs the question as to why environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are not a common part of the analysis of companies.

These questions and others were discussed during panels at two recent global conferences – the 2010 Skoll World Forum panel  “Social Good with Market Returns?” and the 2010 Ceres Conference panel “Canaries in the Data Mine: The Information Boom in ESG Data.” Read more

Business and NGO Forum on Safer Chemicals Reform

This is a guest post by Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist for Environmental Defense Fund's Health program.

I thought you may be interested in this forum on the Toxic Substances Control ACT (TSCA) reform which features a keynote by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

Business and NGO Forum on Safer Chemicals Reform

June 3, 2010- Washington, D.C.


The Business and NGO Forum on Safer Chemicals Reform will gather business leaders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Washington, D.C. to discuss how proposed federal legislation to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) can meet the needs of and create new opportunities for downstream users of chemicals. Read more