Finding Common Ground: Boeing, Facebook, Verizon and more sign up for savings

What does “the world’s leading aerospace company” have in common with “the world’s largest casino entertainment company” or “the world’s largest social network?” Probably not all that much.  But Boeing, Caesars Entertainment, Facebook, Dunkin’ Brands, JPMorganChase and Verizon have all plugged into a cost-effective, proven solution for slashing energy bills:  EDF Climate Corps.

Environmental Defense Fund announced today  the first 20 companies to hire EDF Climate Corps fellows in 2012.  Participating companies span an array of industries from food and beverage to healthcare, and financial services to telecommunications, proving that anyone can tap into the trillion-dollar opportunity of energy efficiency.  How? By hiring an EDF Climate Corps fellow for the summer.

EDF Climate Corps fellows are specially trained MBA students who work hand-in-hand with your staff to identify and prioritize energy-saving measures.  During their summer engagements, they develop customized energy efficiency investment plans that cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  Since the program started in 2008, EDF Climate Corps fellows have uncovered over $1 billion in energy savings for participating organizations.

Just as the companies that join EDF Climate Corps represent a variety of sectors and sizes, they also come to us at many different points on the path to comprehensive energy management.  We’ve found that even companies that have pursued aggressive efficiency campaigns benefit from the fresh perspective and enthusiasm that these students bring to their mission.

“We believe this program will help us identify areas where we can reduce our energy consumption and build greater efficiencies into our manufacturing processes while we continue to build a stronger business that supports thousands of jobs across the nation,” said Mark Daniels, VP Sustainability & Environmental Policy at Hilex Poly.

We're actively recruiting companies for EDF Climate Corps program in 2012 — join us in the hunt for energy savings!  Matching of host organizations and EDF Climate Corps fellows is already underway, so interested companies should apply now at edfclimatecorps.org. For more information, please email info@edfclimatecorps.org.

As President Obama said in last week's State of the Union address, “the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.” I think that's something everyone can agree on, and EDF Climate Corps is a great way to make it happen.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

Walmart finds money in a shoebox

Walmart’s The Green Room recently published a blog about shoeboxes. For a behemoth retailer like Walmart, one would think that worrying about shoeboxes isn’t high on its list of priorities. But this attention to detail is the kind of thing that makes environmental progress possible and Walmart effective.

Scale

In 2005, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Walmart partnered to transform the consumer retail industry. We’ve received plenty of criticism for that, but these shoeboxes are the perfect example behind our reasoning. When the largest company in the world decides to pay attention to shoeboxes, the impact is huge. In only ten months, Walmart produced 14.4 million shoeboxes, and saved 692 tons of paper and 400,000 pounds of solid waste, among other impressive figures.

Innovation

Walmart realized that by manufacturing its own shoeboxes, it could have more control over the design. Innovative thinking and an unconventional decision led to some impressive results – a 43 percent reduction of paper use and 28 percent in costs. Companies need to think creatively and ask questions. Asking “why” is always a good place to start. Why do we do things this way? Is it to save money, or is it because this is the way we’ve been doing it for years? The greatest innovations are a result of someone just asking “why?” Don’t be afraid to challenge the system.

Shared Learnings

The significance behind this one blog post goes much further than just the savings Walmart found in switching shoeboxes, but it is the sharing of these learnings that will ripple through the industry. When Walmart communicates innovations and asks its 100,000 suppliers to do the same, it creates real opportunities for big change. Just imagine how much more we can achieve if more companies were willing to share their environmental wins?

Companies, like Walmart, have the resources to make change happen. They can strategize and implement with speed, pushing the envelope on innovation and environmental sustainability.  I sincerely hope that more retailers, and all companies for that matter, will explore environmental opportunities, implement similar initiatives and share the results of their work so we can take the change we need to scale, and create a healthier economy and planet.

Connecting the Dots and Breaking Down Barriers

Two things have been on my mind this week.

First is the 2012 State of Green Business Report released by GreenBiz. The report shares a mixed view of the condition of the green economy we are collectively bringing to bare. While companies are consistent in dedicating resources to setting and meeting notable environmental goals, the momentum in other important areas is slowing. This includes a decline in investments in clean energy and an increase in energy intensity.

The second is the 515 applications we received for the EDF Climate Corps fellowship this summer. We have 125 spots available with host organizations across the country, and I am constantly amazed by the huge interest we see from up-and-coming business leaders in aligning environmental goals with business priorities.

What strikes me (and many others) is the disconnect between these two things. There is an obvious need and interest in aligning the environment with business, but there are not-so-obvious barriers preventing that from happening.

With these ideas in mind, I am facilitating a workshop at the State of Green Business Forum next Monday in San Francisco. Kirk Myers, CSR Manager at REI, and Jake MacArthur, graduate of the Bren School at UC Santa Barbara and 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at REI will join me in a conversation about the barriers hindering companies today, and the opportunities available. EDF Climate Corps fellows work closely with different stakeholders across functional lines to help their host companies take advantage of the huge cost savings available through energy efficiency upgrades.

Next week, we'll tell the few stories about innovative ways to break down the barriers to energy efficiency and reap the financial benefits. Hope to see you there!

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

On Last Night's State of the Union Address

By Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address last night, and energy issues played a starring role in the speech.

Here are some of the comments that caught my attention:

The President drew some firm lines in the sand.

The address was a strong defense of the importance of clean energy to America’s long-term economic prosperity. The President said:

“I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy."

In the speech, the President called for Congress to pass a clean energy standard and extend clean energy tax credits, while ending a century of tax subsidies for oil companies.

The President again rejected the false choice between a clean environment and jobs.

He said:

“We don't have to choose between the environment and our economy."

His description of the remarkable comeback of American vehicle manufacturers, which are rapidly innovating to meet aggressive fuel economy standards, proved his point.

A mixed bag on natural gas.

On natural gas, the President committed to full disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

But — he missed an opportunity to lay out the bargain that must be struck.

We can help revolutionize America’s energy picture with our newly abundant supplies of gas, but to do so responsibly, we must get the environmental rules right to protect our air, land and water wherever "fracking" wells are drilled.

Getting the environmental rules right means disclosure of the chemicals used in drilling. It also means reasonable standards to ensure high-integrity well design, safe water and chemical management, and methane gas containment to prevent additional harm to our climate.

With those kinds of safeguards in place, gas can reduce our environmental problems instead of increasing them.

The blueprint for action already exists in the recommendations of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board. They must be swiftly implemented.

Standing by new mercury standards

The President ended 2011 with historic action to reduce mercury in our air, water, and food.

As you probably remember, EDF was a strong advocate for those groundbreaking new standards.

Last night, the President stood by his action, declaring:

"I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean."

Last night’s speech wasn’t the only time President Obama has talked about a clean energy future recently.

Earlier this month, he spoke to EPA staff and told them:

"We don't have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy. We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment, and, in fact, putting people back to work all across America.

He's right about that, but make no mistake – in the weeks and months ahead, there will still be efforts in Washington to block efforts to change the environmentally-destructive and irresponsible course on which the nation, and the world, are bound.

We at EDF will continue working to remind our lawmakers, and all Americans, that the science of climate change is clear and so are the economics.

The fact is that we can build a more sustainable future using market-based approaches that preserve public health and the environment while creating new businesses and new jobs for American workers.

This content is cross-posted on EDF's Climate 411 blog.

Companies Save Millions By Hiring For Corporate Sustainability

I recently moved into a new house and for the first time in my life, I have a cleaning lady.  Like most people I know, on the day before she’s scheduled to arrive, I clean up a little. Because just having someone whose job it is, and knowing that she’ll be focused on that job, changes my behavior.

This behavior also happens on an institutional scale. While not every company needs a dedicated chief sustainability officer–or energy manager or corporate responsibility officer–having one can focus attention and change behavior from the C-suite to the factory floor. A recent Weinreb Group report documents the rise of chief sustainability officers and describes them as “business veterans who are good at leading new initiatives and cross-functional teams and who understand how to translate external factors into internal opportunities.”

While titles may vary, a new survey by Corporate Responsibility Magazine and others reveals that in 2011, 62 percent of participating organizations had a lead corporate responsibility role–a big jump up from 42 percent in 2010. We’ve seen this same trend in our own work at Environmental Defense Fund, especially when companies get a taste of what they have to gain from a dedicated resource.

For example, EDF Climate Corps places specially trained MBA students in companies for a summer to build the business case for energy efficiency. These gung-ho students have found over $1 billion in potential energy savings for their host companies, which are now creating new positions to keep the ball rolling year round. For example, Adidas created a new position of senior manager for environmental affairs for its Climate Corps fellow, Elizabeth Turnbull, after she graduated from Yale. Real estate firm The JBG Companies and manufacturer Cummins were similarly motivated by EDF Climate Corps savings to create new roles.

The survey also cites improvements to customer relations and employee attraction and retention as the top benefits companies report from their sustainability programs. Conversations with our partner companies confirm these benefits and suggest one more: bottom line results. Private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. recently announced that its environmental program had saved participating companies $365 million in operating costs since 2008. The firm created a new position to manage the program in 2009, and has added more staff as the savings continue to accumulate. Other private equity firms like Blackstone, Doughty Hanson, 3i, and Actis have also brought in experts to focus on environmental management.

Having a dedicated sustainability position is helping these companies bridge the gap between environmental and business management, and to reap the rewards from doing so. I look to see this trend continue in 2012.

This content was originally published by Fast Company.

EDF Climate Corps Webinars Share the Wealth…of Energy Efficiency Learnings

Representatives from adidas Group and Genzyme Corporation shared insights into their energy efficiency initiatives during an Environmental Defense Fund webinar last Thursday.

The webinar, meant to introduce new companies to the idea of saving energy and money through the EDF Climate Corps program, was moderated by EDF Managing Director Victoria Mills.  Panelists included Elizabeth Turnbull, senior manager of Environmental Affairs at adidas Group, and Jeff Holmes, principal engineer at Genzyme Corporation. adidas and Genzyme have each hired three EDF Climate Corps fellows to advance energy management strategies over the past few years. Turnbull and Holmes discussed their experiences with the program, answered questions about how decisions are made regarding energy investments within their respective companies and how energy efficiency projects get implemented. In fact, Turnbull announced she was calling in from the company’s Canadian headquarters, where she was implementing the energy efficiency projects mapped out by adidas’s 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow Paulina Orkisz.

Listen to the recording >>

The next webinar will be February 3 (1pm EST to 2pm EST): Victoria Mills, managing director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Program, will moderate the webinar. Featured speakers include Scott Tew, executive director of Ingersoll Rand’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability, and Brian Weldy, vice president of Engineering and Facilities Management at HCA.

•To see the presentation: Go to www.readytalk.com and type in 4061804 under “Access Code”

•To enable audio: Call (866) 740-1260 and type in 4061804 when prompted to enter an access code

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

Changing Culture Changes Behavior: Labor Union Treasure Hunts find lasting success

Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) innovative partnership with labor union IUE-CWA took me close to home with its second Treasure Hunt at CCL Container in Hermitage, PA, a facility that designs and manufactures aluminum based packaging products for a wide variety of industries, producing a 100 percent recyclable product.  The Treasure Hunt identified over $180,000 in annual savings and over 1,300 metric tons of carbon reductions that can be implemented for less than $29,000.  The CCL Container Treasure Hunt was a great success and labor union members were able to identify some fantastic savings for the company.  The most significant change I saw taking place at the Treasure Hunt wasn’t changing an oven temperature or saving water, though.  It was the change in culture that with the union members and the managers at the companies where these Treasure Hunts are held.

EDF and IUE-CWA’s partnership is focused on locating and implementing savings opportunities, but for this process of energy efficiency implementation and savings to be continuous, there has to be a culture of energy awareness at the company. We also need to shift the way we think about efficiency and energy use.  Energy efficiency can save jobs, money and give a company a competitive edge in a world where energy costs are going nowhere but up.

To shift our thinking about energy efficiency, we also much shift the language we use when discussing it.  If we’re going to make people care about energy efficiency, we need to speak to them in a language that they’re able to understand. When we talk about energy efficiency, we typically use data and large numbers that we think make the best case for energy efficiency.  We believe that phrases like “You can save 8,000 gallons of water a day” and “We eliminated 400,000 kWh’s of electricity use” have power to make a change.  Clearly, those numbers should spur energy-saving projects left and right!  Right?  Well, take a second to conceptualize those numbers. Can you?   Do you have enough of a grasp on what they really mean? I certainly have a hard time and so do most people, including the workers out on the plant floor.

At CCL, I was struck by the impact energy efficiency opportunities had on union members and managers alike, once they were able to conceptualize the significance of the savings available.  When discussing water savings, a union member explained that they could save the equivalent of three swimming pools of water a day by simply emptying a bin at the end of a shift rather than allowing a continuous flow of water.  Three swimming pools a day!  That’s 1,095 swimming pools a year.  On the floor, an employee realized that an unused machine could be turned off and that it would save the equivalent of his home electricity use for a year.  Once employees are able to fully understand the impact they can have, energy efficiency starts to become integral to the way decisions are made.

What struck me about this Treasure Hunt was not the savings.  You can walk into any facility or plant and likely find energy savings.  Technology is constantly advancing, equipment ages and there is always room for improvement, at both old facilities and new.  What was really impressive about my time at CCL Container was the way that people were beginning to think about energy.  A culture change is occurring at the companies we visit and with the union members who participate. This kind of lasting change is going to allow IUE-CWA and the companies that employ its members to continue to be competitive while making a positive impact on the environment.

Millennials: We are not slackers!

Every new generation leaves its mark on the world, reshaping not just culture and politics, but also business and the economy. Nowhere is this more evident than with today’s so-called Generation Y, who is having a profound effect on the way American companies think about energy and the environment as we begin to ascend the corporate ladder.

EDF Climate Corps at work. Left to right: Elizabeth Turnbull, Doug Noonan and Paulina Orkisz

Also called Millennials, the cohort was born between the late 1970s and the late 1990s (the exact age bracket is often debated). As a group, Millennials tend to be liberal, confident, tolerant, non-conformist and prone to activism. We are famous for changing the rules to fit our needs. We innately believe that our opinion is important, and are enthusiastically vocal about it.

This does not mean we are slackers. To the contrary, Generation Y wants to work for causes in which we believe, and we like to achieve results. As Gen Y career paths begin to unfold, these passions are having a growing impact on what we expect from our workplace and professional culture.

Recent research by workplace designer (and green leader) Knoll confirms that Millennials feel the companies they work for “should espouse a social cause that goes beyond traditional profit and loss.”

Similarly, a report by Michigan State University and the consulting giant Deloitte observes that that Gen Y has increasingly moved from being campus “tree huggers” to real-life business leaders, focused on what’s often called “the triple bottom line,” people, planet and profit.

Indeed, the emerging green economy is now one of the hottest topics as Millennials begin to fill the nation’s business schools. Of the top ten graduate MBA programs ranked by Forbes Magazine last year, all have prominent environmental courses as part of the curriculum.

The marriage of environment and business has often been either criticized or overlooked, but things are changing. In our work at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we’ve seen how this type of collaboration can result in big financial and environmental results, and we believe that these graduate students have the power to take it further.

Continue reading on Boston.com's Global Business Hub.

Don't forget! EDF Climate Corps Webinar is today!

Today at 2pm EST Victoria Mills, Managing Director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships Program, will moderate a webinar about our EDF Climate Corps program. Featured speakers include Elizabeth Turnbull, Senior Manager for Environmental Affairs at adidas Group and Jeff Holmes, Principal Engineer at Genzyme Corporation.

 Log-in details:

  • To see the presentation: Go to www.readytalk.com and type in 4061804 under “Access Code”
  • To enable audio: Call (866) 740-1260 and type in 4061804 when prompted to enter an access code

EDF Climate Corps is currently accepting applications for company participants in 2012. We invite you to join today's webinar to learn about the energy savings unearthed by EDF Climate Corps fellows to date, hear first-hand from companies who have participated and determine how your company could benefit from the extra set of skilled hands and fresh perspectives of an EDF Climate Corps fellow.

If you can't make it today, be sure to join us on February 3 (1pm EST to 2pm EST), with Scott Tew from Ingersoll Rand’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability and Brian Weldy, VP of Engineering and Facilities Management at HCA.

We look forward to chatting with you today!

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

Navigating Energy at Viawest – An EDF Climate Corps fellow's three commandments

By TC Rangarajan,  2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Viawest and MBA candidate at Pennsylvania State University's Smeal School of Business

This summer, I went for evening drinks with a colleague, and as we strolled through downtown Denver looking for a nice place to relax, my friend pointed to one establishment and said, “Let’s not go to that pub. They still use incandescents.”

It’s certainly not far-fetched to think customers will make purchasing decisions based on a company’s sustainability initiatives.  Similar to the way people have demand healthier options from fast food chains, many corporations have started expecting their vendors and partners to provide environmentally-friendly alternatives.  If you’re a major co-location provider with two dozen facilities across five states, you better be prepared for this trend.

This is exactly why Viawest –a data center and managed services provider based in Denver – signed up for EDF Climate Corps. I was hired as a fellow at Viawest, and was tasked with- creating a formal green program. This involved developing several different sustainability projects, from recycling to renewable energy and from water efficiency to vending misers.

I walked into Viawest with little corporate sustainability experience under my belt, but walked out at the end of the summer with a wealth of knowledge. My goal with this blog is to share what I learned so  small and medium business without  dedicated sustainability resources can follow these leads.

Sympathize: In my view, the foremost step in creating a sustainability program is to understand the internal and external stakeholder values. If an organization intends to invest resources in green efforts, the result has to return value for the stakeholders. At Viawest, we kicked off this project by assessing the green programs of our customers, major competitors, utilities, non-profits, state and city green policies, and Federal regulations. In addition, our internal stake holders came together and discussed their expectations for a sustainability program. This helped us identify the critical areas in corporate sustainability most relevant to our industry,  ensuring  our program adds significant value to the organization while  helping us “do the right thing.”

Customize: Sustainability programs are not “one size fits all.” The options available around corporate sustainability are limitless. It is therefore critical to tailor  programs so their impact is maximized. While a comprehensive sustainability program does include diverse environmental programs, start with the one that addresses the industry’s core problems. Since Viawest owns thousands of servers, which consume millions of kWh of electricity every month, managing the company’s energy consumption proved to have the biggest potential for environmental and financial savings.

Socialize: Take the time to familiarize yourself with the staff and departments, and figure out how to make alliances to further your initiatives.. This is probably the most critical step to help you integrate a green mentality into the culture of the company into your green policies. At Viawest, I had to interact with various departments – sales, marketing, HR, products, IT, facilities and housekeeping staff. Every one of those conversations helped me fine-tune my recommendations.. In addition to discussions with department heads, I reached out to individual engineers and managers to understand their views on the program. Many corporate sustainability programs seldom reach or inspire employees at every echelon.  Often times, these types of initiatives can be an exclusive conversation for only top-level executives– missing an important human resource component: employee buy-in and adoption.. At the end of the day, a program’s success will depend on the employees implementing it every day. That said, it is imperative that policies framed at by executives consider the views of everyone within the organization.

In most cases, it all boils down to maintaining an open outlook. If you keep your eyes and mind open  to new ideas, you will notice there are opportunities everywhere that could affect your organization and the environment in a positive way.  As more people make purchasing decisions based on companies’ sustainability initiatives, perspective is imperative.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

 

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.