Signs of summer in New York City? SunGard sees the light in its 3rd year with EDF Climate Corps

By Ryan Whisnant, Director of Sustainability at SunGard, MBA/MS, University of Michigan, 2009 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at SunGard

Walking to the train on the coldest New York City day so far this winter, I found myself thinking of summer. Ninety-eight degree train platforms and air-conditioned subway cars certainly feel like a distant memory. But the first signs of summer are already here. I’m not talking about those first little green plants poking up through the snow – that’s still a long way off. I’m talking about the first signs of what has become a hallmark of summer at SunGard – hosting an EDF Climate Corps fellow.

As SunGard has built its sustainability programs, we’ve followed a simple but effective methodology:

  1. Pilot and prove the results
  2. Look for opportunities to scale and operationalize
  3. Engage employees as part of the efforts

As a software and technology services company, energy use is an important issue for SunGard. With a mandate to help “leading companies to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans,” Climate Corps was a natural fit for helping SunGard continue to build its sustainability programs. SunGard started participating in the Climate Corps program in 2009, when I joined the program as a fellow at our headquarters in Wayne, PA. My task was to identify energy efficiency opportunities, large and small, and build the financial case for which initiatives to pursue. My work that summer uncovered opportunities for 25% savings in electricity use, including replacement of older, inefficient rooftop HVAC units. That number also included some no-cost solutions such as fixing a lighting timer, saving $20,000 a year. Looking to institutionalize these kinds of initiatives, we published an office energy efficiency guide for SunGard facility managers.

Our success at headquarters begged the question of what was possible across SunGard’s entire real estate portfolio. But we faced two major challenges: 1) identifying where to focus our efforts, and 2) overcoming the split incentive of occupying primarily leased spaces. To help us scale our energy efficiency efforts, we were excited to host a second Climate Corps fellow from the 2010 cohort. Our fellow, Rich Tesler, tackled a variety of projects including a portfolio-wide analysis to identify which facilities to target, and development of Green Leasing and Retrofit Guides, which have been adopted as part of our facilities and real estate processes. Both projects have allowed SunGard to significantly expand the scale of our energy efficiency programs.

Energy efficiency is now a core part of how we select and manage our facilities. Looking ahead to this summer, we’re excited to welcome a third Climate Corps fellow to help move our energy efficiency efforts into the next phase. From their grassroots beginnings, our sustainability programs continue to have strong local participation. We’re looking forward to the training and fresh ideas that a fellow will bring as SunGard develops programs to tap into the ideas and enthusiasm of our employees to further drive energy efficiency within the company.

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