EDF Climate Corps Turns Over a New Leaf

Today, Environmental Defense Fund launched a new class of EDF Climate Corps fellows to catalyze energy savings in organizations around the country. This year’s class is bigger than ever – with 116 students placed in 106 different organizations.  New participants such as Apple, Colgate-Palmolive, General Motors, and the cities of Austin and Philadelphia are joining repeat hosts including AT&T, Facebook, QTS, Verizon, Chicago Public Schools and the New York City Housing Authority.

EDF Climate Corps has grown by leaps and bounds since it started with just seven fellows in 2008.  But even more remarkable than the growth in numbers is how EDF Climate Corps has blossomed in other ways – delivering an impact well beyond what we imagined when we started the program.  Fellows are working on a wider variety of projects than ever before, networks are sprouting among our hosts and alumni, and smart energy management practices are taking root in our host organizations.

This summer, for example, in addition to traditional efficiency projects like lighting retrofits and HVAC upgrades, EDF Climate Corps fellows will work on energy management strategies, information systems, financing mechanisms and employee engagement campaigns.  These new projects, modeled on the Virtuous Cycle of Organizational Energy Efficiency that EDF developed with MIT, go beyond the low-hanging fruit to deliver systemic and lasting reductions in costs and emissions.

EDF Climate Corps is also finding new ways to bring value to participants through our network – which now numbers over 600 current and past fellows and host organizations nationally.  This year, in addition to our online engagement and annual in-person gathering, we are activating local EDF Climate Corps networks in cities where we can leverage existing momentum and resources – such as the Boston Green Ribbon Commission and Retrofit Chicago – to build connections and foster peer learning about energy efficiency and smart energy management.

What’s perhaps most rewarding is to see how EDF Climate Corps is changing the way organizations make decisions about energy.  Some are hiring energy managers where the position never existed before; others are creating new systems to collect and analyze energy data; still others are introducing new financing mechanisms for energy-saving projects.  For example, adidas Group recently announced a new investment fund for efficiency upgrades that delivered a 36% ROI in its first six months.

So as we kick off our sixth year of EDF Climate Corps, we are celebrating the many ways that the program has renewed itself – staying true to its mission to cut costs and emissions, while finding fresh ways to create value for our host organizations and the environment.  Stay tuned to the EDF Climate Corps blog all summer to learn more about the exciting new things our fellows are up to!

About EDF Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps (edfclimatecorps.org) taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has found an average of $1 million in energy savings for each participant. For more information, visit edfclimatecorps.org. Read our blog at edfclimatecorps.org/blog. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/edfbiz and on Facebook at facebook.com/EDFClimateCorps.



EDF Heads to Atlanta for TSC's Spring Member Summit

This week, Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Retail Team travels from Bentonville, AR to Atlanta to attend and speak at the The Sustainability Consortium’s (TSC) second Member Summit.

EDF is an NGO member of TSC, an independent organization of diverse global participants who collaborate to improve consumer product sustainability through all stages of a product’s life cycle. TSC has over one hundred member organizations representing over $1.5 trillion in revenue. Other members include Walmart, Coca-Cola, Disney, L'Oréal, NRDC and WWF. Scientific American Magazine named TSC one of the “Top 10 World Changing Ideas of 2012.”

Because of EDF’s in-depth work with Walmart (we even have an office in Bentonville, AR), our Retail Team’s expertise spans across the multitude of categories TSC tackles, from apparel to food to packaging and many things in between. We’re excited to share our knowledge, while continuing to learn from our fellow TSC members in Atlanta.

If you’ll be there, keep an eye out for our Retail Team: Elizabeth Sturcken, Michelle Harvey, Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs. We will be actively involved throughout the event and speaking at the sessions below.

An Introduction to Membership in The Sustainability Consortium

Tuesday, May 14 1pm – 2:45pm

Conference Room 7

Elizabeth Sturcken, managing director at EDF, will speak at this session for invited, non-member organizations wishing to gain a better understanding of The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) and what it means to be a member. After a brief history and overview, member organization panelists will share their perspective on the value of TSC and the return on their investment, their time commitment to TSC and how their organizations are using its work. This is an opportunity for guests considering membership to have candid conversations with current members and to understand how TSC can provide value.

On-Farm Improvement Opportunity Workshop Series

Tuesday, May 14 1pm – 2:45pm

Conference Room A

Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs, project managers at EDF, will help lead this workshop, which will review the existing information in the knowledge products related to fertilizer use on-farm and build on the list of improvement opportunities for addressing impacts related to fertilizer use. It will also provide information about how to communicate across the supply chain in a way that facilitates progress in addressing impacts related to fertilizer use on farm.

Agriculture Supply Chain Committee

Wednesday, May 15 8:30am-12:00pm

Conference Room 7

Jenny Ahlen and Alisha Staggs, project managers at EDF, will present at this session, working to increase the relevance and application of the Sustainability Measurement and Reporting System for product categories that have commodity market supply chains. The approach will be to identify the points of connection (where product category materials and information transfer from one stakeholder to another) across commodity market supply chains and for each point of connection. This workshop will identify one commodity product on which to initially focus and further define the scope, objectives and goals for the committee.

Walmart's Sustainability Trilogy: A Close-Up Perspective from EDF's Office in Bentonville

By: Alisha Staggs, Bentonville-based project manager at Environmental Defense Fund

In Marc Gunther’s recent article "Walmart’s index: a real life toy story," he calls the Walmart supplier Sustainability Index, "the biggest environmental initiative in the company's history," and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) agrees. He also questions whether "Walmart is taking this too far”"and "how the world's largest retailer is exercising its market power."

With a 25-year track record challenging companies to make decisions that are good for the environment and the economy, we at EDF are used to asking these types of tough questions.

That's precisely why we have an EDF office based in Bentonville dedicated solely to working together with Walmart to advance sustainability. Because we don't take money from the company, we can push hard to achieve the kinds of transformational change of which it is capable.

When it comes to the Sustainability Index, we're on board. And here’s why:

With over 100,000 suppliers, Walmart has the ability to use the Sustainability Index to move entire industries to go beyond what is required by law, benefiting consumers, workers and the planet.

The recent launch of the Index marks a highly anticipated milestone three years in the making for Walmart. Put it this way, if Walmart's sustainability journey were a bestselling trilogy, we'd be starting the second book. In the first book, the goals were set, the groundwork built, some smaller battles were won and lost. ..but now we're getting to the real action.  As the environmental advocate in the room, this is a book I don't want to put down.

If you missed the first book (where were you?), Gunther gives a nice recap here.

For the first time, environmental outcomes truly worthy of Walmart's scale seem achievable: Major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Improved efficiency across supply chains and sectors. Improvements in water quality and human health. The list goes on.

Beginning this year, Walmart will use The Sustainability Index to influence the design of its U.S. private brand products and will require its buyers to set specific sustainability objectives that will be tied to their annual reviews. For example, Gunther zooms in on Walmart’s senior buyer for baking commodities, Tim Robinson, in another recent story to show how this is happening in real time. Of course, Robinson's story is one of many.

By the end of 2017, Walmart will buy 70 percent of the goods it sells in U.S. stores and U.S. Sam’s Clubs from suppliers who use The Sustainability Index to evaluate and share the sustainability of products.

And while we see the Index moving in the right direction, EDF continues to ask the tough questions.   How do we keep the momentum going across hundreds of buyers and thousands of suppliers?  How do we avoid unintended consequences?  How do we track and measure the true impact of progress on the ground? What is the full potential of the Index?  Is incremental change enough to get us where we need to be by when we need to be there?

These are the questions to be answered in the second part of this sustainability story, and I have my fingers crossed for something truly epic.

This content is cross-posted on Walmart's The Green Room.

Don't let those water savings go down your company's drain

Think of all the times you've turned on a faucet and no water came out…

I'll be the first to admit I can't remember the last time this possibility even crossed my mind. The truth is we take water for granted, and don't stop to question its seemingly unlimited abundance.

Recently we've seen clear signs that it is time we pay attention.

The damage caused by the 2012 U.S. drought cost the country over $35 billion— and similar droughts are projected to hit the country over the coming years. McKinsey has also estimated that in just 20 years, demand for water will be 40 percent higher than it is now. This would inevitably result in increased water costs for everyone—including companies.

Despite the imminent and serious business risks associated with water shortage, too few companies are taking concrete steps to protect themselves.

In a report released in October 2012, KPMG  found that while 76 percent of the world's top 250 companies addressed water issues in their corporate responsibility reporting, less than 40 percent demonstrate any long-term plans to manage their water usage, including strategies for reducing and treating water consumed.

KPMG found that the mining sector had the highest rate (100 percent) of reporting on water reduction and treatment strategies. The consulting firm projected that other water-intensive sectors such as agriculture and the oil and gas industry (in which less than half of companies interviewed reported having reduction and treatment plans) would be next to face rising public pressure around managing their water usage.

Yet even businesses outside of these water-intensive sectors can significantly benefit from focusing on their water footprints. For example, commercial buildings are a sector ripe with water reduction opportunities that can save companies water and money now. While at first glance they might not seem like very large users of water, buildings across the U.S. consume on a daily basis 47 billion gallons of water—the equivalent of about 71,000 Olympic-sized pools.

In order to develop approaches to help unlock these untapped opportunities, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) teamed up with AT&T in 2012 with the goal of identifying significant opportunities to reduce water use in building cooling systems. In addition to mitigating risk, our pilot projects with AT&T bear out that effective water management can also lead to cost savings.

How can your company get started?

The first step is to understand your water use. The Water Score Card Guide, released jointly by AT&T and EDF, helps you with just that. The Score Card, the first in a series of tools we will be releasing over the next few months, gives facilities a score for their water management efforts by shedding light on water usage and then prioritizes the opportunities for water conservation.

The Score Cared created the foundation for AT&T’s water program efforts. Using a similar Score Card in AT&T's energy program helped the company realize $86 million in annualized energy savings by tracking the implementation of 8,700 projects in 2010 and 2011.

The toolkit also contains easy-to-understand visuals about the importance of water and best practices in water efficiency at facilities.  It can be accessed in its entirety at www.edf.org/attwater.

Did you know that the adidas Group has a sustainability venture capital fund?

By: Elizabeth Turnbull Henry

Elizabeth Turnbull Henry was an EDF Climate Corps fellow at the adidas Group in 2010. After completing her EDF fellowship, she was hired on by the adidas Group as Senior Manager of Environmental Affairs. She has since hired multiple EDF Climate Corps fellows -, and has been an active participant in the EDF Climate Corps Network – collaborating with peers from across the nation. Read on to see how Henry’s groundbreaking work at the adidas Group epitomizes the power of the EDF Climate Corps model and the far-reaching influence of its alumni. 

If you are familiar with facility management, you may know that facilities have finite annual budgets, and demand for capital predictably exceeds supply. Some projects like lighting controls may deliver carbon & financial savings; however, quantifying these savings requires time and specialized training, two equally scarce resources. Other projects, like replacing carpets, don’t deliver a return, but may still feel quite urgent to a facility manager. Without a trusted advisor to calculate and validate their economic and environmental benefits, energy-conserving lighting controls are stuck competing for the same funds as carpets.

We experienced similar issues at the adidas Group and set up a dedicated team to look into it. After months of calculations and visits to our facilities, we established the company’s greenENERGY Fund, our creative response to this universal corporate problem.

Launched in 2012, the pilot greenENERGY Fund is an investment fund with three goals: accelerate carbon reduction in our global properties, rigorously track project performance and deliver a healthy return on capital. After 6 months and 7 projects funded, the pilot project is showing impressive results. It is forecast to deliver 36% Return on Investment and cut carbon by 1,401 metric tons of C02 – that’s like taking 256 cars off the road each year.

This pilot is now scaling up – way up – with $2M USD committed to energy efficiency projects across the globe.

Projects with attractive financial and carbon returns deserve preferential treatment. As manager of the adidas Group greenENERGY Fund, I look at carbon reduction projects as a venture capitalist might:  a portfolio of value-creating investments. I rigorously scout, evaluate and invest in efficiency projects because they deliver great financial savings and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Green investments are therefore seen as a business opportunity, delivering revenue for the business.

This is why the adidas Group has worked with Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps program since 2010 to identify energy and money-saving opportunities across its portfolio. EDF, which examines efficiency opportunities for hundreds of companies across the map, is so enthused by the adidas Group greenENERGY Fund, that the organization is touting it to its audiences far and wide. Moreover, EDF asked us to present on this new project at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference in California, where I will be speaking today.

The greenENERGY Fund is generating buzz because it is working beautifully, accelerating verified carbon reductions at a nice profit. It is also the first fund in the footwear and apparel industry with our unique ‘portfolio finance’ approach. These two key powers make it a keen carbon reduction tool:

  1. The Fund has a strict 20% annual Return on Capital target across the portfolio, but flexibility on the project level. This means that high financial return projects can subsidize projects with great carbon reductions but lower financial return. With a portfolio approach, I can deploy more capital – and reduce more carbon – than if I evaluated projects individually.
  2. If a project falls below the 20% return threshold, it competes with other projects on the basis of Metric Tons C02-e reduced per dollar invested. The higher the MT CO2-e/$, the higher priority it becomes to finance. In this way, the Fund is engineered to maximize Net Present Value and carbon reduction.

The greenENERGY Fund is becoming our central hub for energy best practices and engineering know-how.  With each retrofit, we learn more about the risks and benefits of certain project types. Each investment case, including all economics, challenges and results, are summarized and shared on a central portal. Facilities can review what has been done and get ideas for their own improvements. It’s a positive feedback loop that becomes more powerful every day.

The Fund also contributes to our Green Company 2015 targets for reductions in energy (20%) and carbon (30%). While delivering strong financial results and cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the program reflects our leadership in corporate environmental management. To know more about the adidas Group’s programs for the environment, check out our website.

The 2013 investment prospectus is growing with great projects around the world. We are investing in retail LED upgrades, building automation, lighting controls, process improvements and much more. And working diligently to track the impacts. Efficiency is a tremendous source of value. I’ve had colleagues tell me, “I wish I could put my retirement savings in this!”

To learn more about greenENERGY Fund and see some actual investment case studies, click HERE. You can also find additional information on the recently published adidas Group’s 2012 Sustainability Report.

Caterpillar collaborates internally and externally to cut costs and carbon

All companies – from consumer products to manufacturers to retailers – can find significant cost and carbon emissions savings in their logistics network. The latest example is Caterpillar.  Its efforts were recently highlighted in Inbound Logistics – a leading industry publication.

Caterpillar, the world’s largest manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, cut carbon emissions and costs by switching to lighter-weight containers and consolidating inbound shipments of truck parts to its assembly facility. This Caterpillar story is the second in a series of EDF and MIT case studies about carbon-efficient logistics.

Caterpillar’s story is unique because it focuses on two key areas – inbound logistics and packaging. EDF has five principles for improving freight sustainability:

  1. Support “Hot Spot” Clean Up.
  2. Choose the most carbon-efficient mode possible.
  3. Collaborate with other shippers.
  4. Redesign your own network for efficiency.
  5. Get the most out of each move.

The Caterpillar case demonstrates three of the five, but with a twist.

Redesign your network for efficiency

Caterpillar redesigned its inbound logistics network for efficiency. Inbound logistics, in this case, refers to the movement of truck parts to Caterpillar’s assembly facility in Decatur, Illinois from suppliers. Because the parts are coming from many suppliers, relatively infrequently, and in low volumes to an area that is not heavily trafficked, it means the network consists of individual shipments of parts from suppliers on trucks carrying small loads. This presents an opportunity for Caterpillar to reduce truck miles by consolidating inbound shipments from multiple suppliers within close proximity to each other.

Collaborate with other shippers

Caterpillar collaborated with suppliers to consolidate inbound shipments from multiple suppliers. Also, in order to make the switch from heavy steel containers to lighter-weight plastic containers that the parts are shipped in, there was significant collaboration between the logistics team and other teams within the organization.

Get the most out of each move

In addition to consolidating shipments, Caterpillar also looked at the packaging that these parts were shipped in and realized that by switching from steel containers to lighter-weight plastic containers, they could reduce carbon emissions by 16.5 percent.

The combination of reducing the weight of packaging and consolidating shipments enabled Caterpillar to reduce overall truck miles and maximize the utilization of trucks. Caterpillar demonstrates how despite challenges of a unique network, companies can still find significant efficiencies with effective collaboration internally and externally. And that is Caterpillar’s goal:

"Internally, we are looking at ways to make our own operations more efficient. Externally, we are trying to find ways to make our customers more efficient." -Terry Goff, Caterpillar's director of emissions regulation and conformance.

The first case study in the MIT-EDF series described how Ocean Spray Cranberries cut their emissions by 20 percent  in their northeast distribution system by collaborating with a competitor and switching from road to rail transport.

The Caterpillar case study tells a story of quite a different challenge – collaborating with suppliers as opposed to competitors and making packaging changes as opposed to switching modes.

But, both companies were both able to bring carbon emissions down, while saving money.

Carbon emissions from freight transportation are on track to increase by 40 percent over the coming decades. The good news is that we can work together through a combination of strategies – stronger policies that allow for the manufacture of more efficient trucks, trains and ships, and smarter operational logistics practices that allow companies to see lower transportation costs and sustainability benefits – to bring the curve down.

All companies can find significant cost and carbon emissions savings in their logistics network. All you have to do is look. You can start with EDF’s five rules.

To read the full MIT case study click here. To read the EDF summary version click here.