If you were asked five years ago "What types of companies are thinking about – and acting on –sustainability?" you would likely answer with the usual suspects: Patagonia, REI, etc. Less likely on your radar, I’d venture to guess, were players like TPG Capital, Novartis or Caterpillar. Today, companies across all sectors are re-envisioning what it means to be sustainable, and EDF Climate Corps is helping them do so.
Last week I attended my 7th EDF Climate Corps training – the annual kick-off to the summer fellowship. I left the reception with the feeling that this year would be different than previous; partly due to my new role as manager of the program, but more so from the conversations I had with this year’s cohort of 115 EDF Climate Corps fellows. There was a shared feeling that the mindset around corporate sustainability has changed from a nice-to-have to a must-have. And it was inspiring to hear how this group of determined, talented individuals plans on helping some of our country’s largest businesses meet and strengthen their climate goals.
It’s inspiring people like these – coupled with the broader trends at play – which give me so much confidence in the EDF Climate Corps model to help more companies tackle larger, more impactful and more innovative energy-related projects. Here’s why:
- Sustainability is business’ friend. Companies no longer need to hear the case for why they should make sustainability core to their business strategy. Instead, they’re after how they can do so. Which projects will have the best ROI? Which will bring shareholder satisfaction? And they’re also thinking about who. Who is going to do the feasibility analysis for a project? Who will crunch the numbers to make sure it’s a wise investment? Many have turned to EDF Climate Corps for the answer. This year, EDF Climate Corps is partnering with 97 organizations, seeing new businesses such as BlackRock and Lyft joining returning hosts like AT&T and GM. The companies span over 20 industries, from Retail and Manufacturing, to Finance and IT, and this year we are placing our largest cohort to date in China, working with companies like BYD, Coca-Cola and Walmart.
- Companies are becoming smarter about how they manage their footprint. It’s no longer about changing out a few lightbulbs in exchange for positive media attention. It’s about setting trends for other companies to follow. Since EDF Climate Corps launched in 2008, we’ve kept pace with corporate energy and climate project needs and have shifted our approach to meet and accelerate the pace of change. Now, we’re helping companies tackle more sophisticated projects, like setting Science-Based Targets, implementing clean energy technologies, scaling energy efficiency across entire portfolios, and tackling supply chain emissions. We’re even helping companies manage emissions across their entire footprint by deploying fellows into both their U.S. and China-based operations.
- The demand for sustainability professionals is growing. The rise in corporate sustainability has driven companies to create and hire for these jobs, with HR departments competing to fill these positions with the industry’s top talent. That’s where we come in. EDF Climate Corps is cultivating these experts through our network, which is now over 1600 members strong. By launching their careers through the fellowship program and then providing them with lifelong resources, trainings and professional connections, we’re shaping fellows to become the go-to expert guidance for meeting corporate sustainability goals. Think of it this way; when you hire an EDF Climate Corps fellow, you’re hiring 50+ years of EDF experience. How so? Our fellows have opportunities to network with all of EDF’s experts, and have ongoing access to resources such as webinars and professional development trainings.
- Businesses are advocating for climate policies. The lack of federal action on climate has resulted in companies increasingly speaking out in favor of cleaner, smarter policies. EDF is encouraging companies to step up by taking actions like signing on in support of the Clean Power Plan. But we’re not just telling companies to take action, we’re showing them how to do it. EDF Climate Corps has initiated a new program to help foster climate advocates by empowering network members to take action at the local, state and federal level. We’re offering resources such as trainings and webinars on how to create and execute an advocacy plan.
I’m excited to see the cutting-edge solutions that these 115 fellows will recommend for the 98 companies and organizations that are leading the way towards a smarter, more resilient future.
So to this year’s class – good luck, and welcome to the EDF Climate Corps network.