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.
Fortunately the Climate Corps Class of 2010 measures up. They are a well-qualified group, prepared with an in-depth understanding of energy efficiency and a network of relevant contacts, research, white papers and financial tools. So far the program's 33 alumni fellows from the last two years identified almost $90 million in net operating savings. Companies report that they are implementing upgrades representing 84% of the energy savings recommended by the fellows. We are confident that this year's class will continue to recommend investments that cut costs and enhance the bottom line.
One of the questions fellows were continuously encouraged to ask throughout their summer fellowships is “why?”
Joey Barr, an MBA student at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley stated emphatically, “I'm trying to figure out why there are $20 bills laying on the floor and people aren't picking them up. I think there are a lot of understandable but frustrating reasons, and Climate Corps is trying to seek some answers.”
After the training, the group packed their laptops and calculators into their backpacks and dispersed across the country for the next 10 – 12 weeks to become champions of energy efficiency at their respective host companies including JCPenney, Bloomberg, Carnival Cruises and McDonald's, among others.
This week we are hosting the other half of the 2010 Climate Corps class here in EDF's New York City office. Thirty more fellows are attending the training which kicked off at 8:30 this morning in the Big Apple.
“One of the main reasons I wanted an MBA is to impact the world from a higher level,” said Rama Murugan of Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business, before she began the training in New York.” Rama, who will be working at CA, Inc. in Islandia, NY, states “I am passionate about the environment and firmly believe that it needs to be saved for future generations to come. With the Climate Corps fellowship, both of my goals become one, and I have the opportunity to impact the world I live in a way that will help secure its future.”
We look forward to seeing the talent and passion these fellows bring to the table in coming weeks!