Climbing Higher Up the Tree: EDF Climate Corps fellow takes energy efficiency to the next level at Eaton Corporation

By Judd Eder, 2010 Climate Corps fellow at Eaton Corporation, MBA candidate at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Member of Net Impact

This summer, I have had the opportunity to work as an EDF Climate Corps fellow for Eaton Corporation, a power management company that has a nearly 100-year history of “Doing Business Right.”  It is a company with an abundance of internal and external energy resources with a management team that truly cares about reducing its footprint. Eaton is also a part of the Department of Energy’s Save Energy Now leadership program and a commended member of the Carbon Disclosure Project.

So what does this all mean for me as an MBA fellow searching for energy efficiency opportunities at such an environmentally mature company? Both fortunately and unfortunately, it means that all the easy projects are already done. In 90% of cases, the slam dunks have already gone through the hoop.

Ultimately what I’m faced with is a list of what I call positive challenges – they’re challenging, but we’re glad they’re around. For example, I spent a few spare hours looking into energy efficiency measures for the new Eaton world headquarters only to find out that the building is already engineered to be LEED gold certified.

How can I make an impact when the gears are already turning? With so many good people already on the job, what are the next steps? Read more

Inside the Pringles Plant: Popping the Lid on Energy Savings

By Julia Li, 2010 Climate Corps fellow at Procter & Gamble, MBA candidate at Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington, Member of Net Impact

Sometimes doing the right thing feels like a drop in the bucket.  Such was the sentiment when I first became an EDF Climate Corps fellow at Procter & Gamble.  I wondered how much of a difference I could make at such an industry giant.  On the other hand, a leaky faucet can waste twenty gallons of water a day.  Suddenly those drops start to add up.

Unlike most fellows who were looking for savings in office buildings and data centers, I was staring down a 37-acre beast of a manufacturing facility—the Pringles plant in Jackson, Tennessee.  P&G’s many sustainability teams and experts again made me wonder what kind of contribution I could make.  Feeling trepidation, coupled with excitement at this unique assignment, I ventured forth.

P&G has been eager to show its dedication to sustainability.  I have been fortunate enough to travel to Jackson twice since I started my fellowship five weeks ago.  At the site, I have full access to the people, plant and other resources necessary to make my evaluations—not to mention all the crunchy Pringles I could ever want to eat! Read more

Hunting for Energy Treasure

Listen in to any conversation on our energy future, and you'll hear about smart grids, solar cells, wind turbines, even energy from algae or from ocean waves. All of these are promising technologies, but we also have a technology that we can fully deploy right now–energy efficiency.

Ho-hum as it may sound, energy efficiency packs a punch. Consulting mavens McKinsey and Co. estimate that the U.S. has the potential to reduce its annual energy consumption by 23% over the next ten years through cost-effective energy efficiency measures. That would be enough–by itself–to meet President Obama's climate goals.

But to accelerate energy efficiency, we need to capture the imagination of everyone from the pipefitter in the plant, to the professor in the classroom, to the CEO in the corporate boardroom. Today, GE and Environmental Defense Fund announced a new initiative to help do just that.

You may have heard of GE's internal "Treasure Hunt" process that the company has honed at more than 200 sites since 2005. Originally developed by Toyota, the process brings together workers at different levels, in various kinds of facilities, to quickly identify energy and cost saving opportunities. At the same time, these workers gain a sense of ownership about energy efficiency and are frequently motivated to change their energy-using behaviors. Read more

Hot, Costly and Crowded: Electricity use and the summer of ‘10

By Stuart DeCew, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at RBS/ Citizens Financial Group, Joint degree MBA/MEM candidate at Yale School of Management and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale University, Member of Net Impact

When I need a reminder of why RBS/Citizens Financial Group is investing in energy efficiency, I take a step outside and experience the summer of ’10 for myself.  To borrow (and slightly bend) a phrase from Tom Friedman: three words describe exactly what is going on – it is hot, costly and crowded out there.

Hot

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first six months of 2010 were the hottest on record since the agency began recording temperatures in 1880.   Moreover, many in the Northeast have experienced a record breaking July.  In Providence, RI, where Citizens Bank is headquartered, the average temperature at T.F. Green Airport has been 74.8 degrees since June 1, which is the highest average temperature on record for that period of time, and over 4 degrees hotter than the normal average. Read more

Shooting for the ST*RS : Building momentum in "The First 90 Days"

Congratulations!  You got the job!  You’ve just been promoted!  You won the project!  Now what?  Enter The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels. This book contains a highly tactical approach for building early momentum that will put you on a trajectory for success, regardless of whether you are in a new position or starting a new initiative.

At the heart of the book is the STARS framework, referring to four broad types of business situations:

  • Start-up
  • Turnaround
  • Realignment
  • Sustaining success

There are clear steps on diagnosing which projects fall into which category and how to develop early wins, as well as avoid common trap

As I’ve been navigating this process in my new role as Director of Strategy for the Corporate Partnership Program here at EDF, one of the most useful suggestions I have found is to, in collaboration with my boss, identify who I should speak to/learn from early on within the team and across the organization.  The book emphasized keeping to the same “script” in each meeting, so that you can collect comparable responses.

The final important step to this process was making sure to feed it back to the group.  This process served for not only introducing me to the team, but also helped build a shared understanding of where the team is; what are the challenges we are confronting; and how we might address them. Read more

Building a Better Bloomberg: 3 Steps to increasing energy efficiency while maintaining functionality and personality

By Brian Hartmann, 2010 Climate Corps Fellow at Bloomberg, MBA candidate at Erb Institute, University of Michigan, Member of Net Impact

On my first day as an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I walked into the Bloomberg L.P. offices in New York City and was completely blown away by the remarkable lighting displays throughout the building.

A quick tour revealed that the building has three primary functions:

  • Office space
  • Data centers
  • Broadcast studios

I immediately realized that the bright, colorful lighting in the building was primarily installed for its artistic value and not for its functionality. I understood that my goal for the summer was to find ways of increasing energy efficiency for Bloomberg, and removing this type of lighting would be an easy way to do just that.  But it wasn't that easy. By recommending that the lighting be replaced, I would be taking away from the building’s aesthetics, a unique part of the company’s culture. I knew that I needed to dig around for other options that wouldn't compromise the building’s multiple purposes – not even the artistic ones. Bloomberg has already reduced its energy consumption by 11 percent in three years, while simultaneously adding space and employees. I figured that if Bloomberg could benefit the environment while expanding its business, I could certainly get creative with my dilemma. Read more

Rebates, Grants and Incentives, Oh My!

A few weeks ago, I spoke with journalist and friend of Environmental Defense Fund, Sarah Fister Gale (see her work on GreenBiz.com), about how companies can take advantage of rebates and funding opportunities to green their operations. Once I sat down to think about it, I realized that there is a lot of money out there, if you know where to look.

To the company venturing into funding opportunities for the first time, rebates and grants may seem confusing or cumbersome.  While it’s easy to focus on the challenges these opportunities may pose, let me take a minute to highlight a few success stories:

Last summer, Neelam Bhatia, a 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Advanced Micro Devices in Austin, TX, identified rebates worth more than $50,000 from the local utility for cooling equipment that had already been purchased! In her recommendations at the end of the summer, she identified several hundred thousand additional dollars in rebates for other energy efficiency projects that they could implement in the coming years.

Still not convinced? In the winter of early 2010, the California Air Resources Board handed out its first voucher through the Hybrid Voucher Incentive Program, which is expected to deploy over 600 new trucks in California this year. The program, which provides vouchers that reduce the price of a hybrid trucks at point-of-sale, is such a success that it was just approved to receive another $25 million for it to continue in 2011! These vouchers, which have averaged over $28,000 per truck, require very little additional paperwork, and no up-front capital investment. Read more

Time for a Tune Up: ‘Check Engine’ Light on Buildings at REI Call for Quick Wins through Retrocommissioning

By Sarah Will, 2010 Climate Corps Fellow at REI, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Member of Net Impact

In a successful business, there is a constant dichotomy between business growth and emissions reduction.  As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I have come to realize that my host company, REI, struggles with this every day.  With each new store opening comes an energy usage of about 400,000 kWh per year.  The company’s carbon goal for 2011 is to maintain its 2010 emissions levels, despite new store openings and growth projections of 8-10 percent.

How do you decrease energy use while growing as a company?

To assist in achieving these energy goals, my charge for the summer, as an EDF Climate Corps fellow, is to identify as many potential energy efficiency projects for REI as possible.  I will analyze the projects and recommend those with the most financial and environmental potential. Some of the projects on the list include:

  • Control sensors on the conveyor belts in the distribution center
  • Lighting projects
  • A compressor audit and repairs
  • Decreased temperature levels in the data center Read more

How-to Guide: Energy Efficiency for Companies

By Attia Qureshi, EDF Summer Associate, University of Michigan

Where can companies go for advice on getting started with energy efficiency?  What's the first step?  And what tools and resources are available to help?

At the start of my summer internship with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), I tried to answer these questions, but doing so was challenging – with hundreds, maybe thousands, of web pages scattered throughout the Internet.  I got to work pulling it all together into one comprehensive, step-by-step guide.

I was helped along the way with resources from EDF Climate Corps, a program in which bright MBA students are recruited from across the country and placed into large corporations where they spend their summer finding ways to reduce energy usage and lower costs for their respective host companies. The EDF Climate Corps Handbook has been a great aid in helping me build the content for this website.

This new web portal, which now lives on EDF's Innovation Exchange website under Energy Efficiency, provides the following resources:

EDF Climate Corps fellows have proven that these steps and resources  can yield significant environmental and financial results for a company.

The web portal is now available on the Innovation Exchange website.

The World Wide Web of Green: EDF Climate Corps Fellow explores global opportunities for Yahoo!

By Jim Wilson, 2010 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Yahoo!, MBA Candidate at Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Member of Net Impact

What do you get as a gift for the person who has everything? Though most of us won’t have to face this dilemma until the holidays, I find that being an EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Yahoo similarly stretches my creative limits because I’m being asked to uncover energy efficiency opportunities at an already very green company.

Whether it’s drawing inspiration from chicken coops to build data centers, using goats instead of lawn mowers, or pioneering an ‘open-source’ model of sharing environmental hi-tech practices, Yahoo has an impressive record of thought leadership in the intersection of IT and green. Along with several other EDF Climate Corps Fellows in Silicon Valley, I am tasked to look far outside of the box to find energy efficiency improvements for my host company. With the majority of the ‘low-hanging’ fruit already picked, my position requires me to search through all of Yahoo’s world-wide operations for efficiency improvements. Read more