Pfizer Cuts GHGs 20%, Employees Follow Suit

Fellow: Jason Sekhon, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Pfizer Inc., MBA/MS candidate at University of Michigan Erb Institute

Organization: Pfizer Inc.

Opportunity: Over 100,000 employees at the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company
Summary: Pfizer is already well on its way to company-wide sustainability, and I'm glad to be contributing by writing employee engagement plan and EnergyStar strategies.

Pfizer: it’s a household name.  With over 100,000 employees, this massive corporation is world renowned for products from Advil to Viagra. But did you know that Pfizer just reduced its GHG emissions by 20% in only four years?

Yeah, neither did I.

When I joined EDF Climate Corps and learned that I would be working with Pfizer, I was ecstatic.  Armed with my newfound energy efficiency knowledge (courtesy of Climate Corps training), I could not wait to get started.  With a company this large, I thought it would be trivial to find millions of dollars worth of savings in no time. When I arrived, I learned how naïve I had been.

I was absolutely blown away by how much progress had already been made in energy efficiency.  Pfizer’s Energy and Climate Change (ECC) team, the group with which I would be working, had existed for nearly a decade and has a hand in everything from public reporting of emissions to bi-annual energy assessments for each of Pfizer’s nearly 100 sites.

My office was located in scenic Peapack, NJ, home to most of the ECC team. (Also just down the road from the US Olympic Equestrian team’s headquarters.)  In my first week on site, I learned just how essential sustainability and energy efficiency are to the facilities’ cultures.  Honestly, I spent the first month with Pfizer just asking questions and absorbing as much information as possible.

Although my original focus was siting energy assessments and more traditional energy efficiency projects, I noticed two key trends.

First, employees (known as "colleagues" at Pfizer) that have significant control over emissions-producing operations have a “lean” mentality toward energy.  The creed with these colleagues – building managers and manufacturing supervisors, for example – is "reduce energy consumption, and the emissions reduction will follow."

Though energy efficiency is ingrained in the culture of these colleagues, however, it isn't ingrained in the culture of Pfizer colleagues at large, presenting an energy efficiency opportunity through employee engagement.

Second, few people – colleague or non – were aware of the great strides Pfizer is taking toward reducing its environmental impact.

With these trends in mind, I focused on a project originally suggested by a colleague located in Pfizer’s Madison, NJ office – achieving ENERGY STAR certification at the Madison office.

ENERGY STAR is a credential only awarded to the most energy efficient buildings in the nation., and earning it at Pfizer's Madison office is now part of a campaign to engage all Pfizer colleagues in sustainability, not just those focused on site operations. We are coordinating this certification with a scheduled announcement of Pfizer’s recent 20% GHG reduction goals, as well as internal sustainability education, such as the recent information sessions on reducing travel through carpooling, "vanpooling" and videoconferencing Pfizer put on for its colleagues.

With these engagement tools, we can promote internal investment in the company's environmental accomplishments, further reducing our GHG emissions. This is not just a talking point.  Pfizer is seriously committed to reducing ingraining sustainability into its culture. With over 100,000 staff, this is a tremendous undertaking, but Pfizer is off to a great start.

Hidden water, growing costs: My summer uncovering potential water savings at AT&T facilities

By: Ravindra Bhandari, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at AT&T, MBA candidate at Babson College

I distinctly remember watching “An Inconvenient Truth” when the documentary was first released. It struck a deep emotional chord in me. I felt an obligation to do something but did not know where to begin.

That changed this summer. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow working with the water and energy sustainability team at AT&T, I finally found a way to translate my passion into action.

When I learned where I would be posted for the summer, I wondered what does AT&T — a telecommunications company — have to do with energy or water management? But then, during the first few days at AT&T’s headquarters in downtown Dallas, Tex., I learned that:

  • AT&T has a substantial real estate footprint made up of thousands of leased and owned facilities
  • These facilities consume a total of 3.4 billion gallons of water every year, equivalent to about 5,150 Olympic-size swimming pools
  • Just 125 of AT&T’s sites – including data centers and large office buildings – are responsible for more than 50 percent of AT&T’s total water use
  • Many of these facilities are located in water-stressed regions of the country

With such a significant impact, AT&T wants to reduce its energy and water footprint for the long-term sustainability of its operations. To tackle this problem, AT&T teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund to find innovative solutions for reducing the overall water consumption at cooling towers, which use a surprising amount of water to keep buildings cool. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I had a unique opportunity to engage in this work and help develop our approach for finding significant water, energy and cost savings.

Three-pronged approach

Our approach was to tackle the problem on three fronts:

  1. Technology Evaluation: Identify and track the performance of innovative water treatment technologies that dramatically reduce water use in cooling towers and analyze the possibilities of rolling them out to more sites.
  2. Operational Improvements: Use best practices to engage our facility managers and service providers to increase the number of times we can use our cooling tower water and reduce the amount of water discharged to the sewer.
  3. Maximize the opportunity for free air cooling: Identify sites where free air cooling – bringing cooler outside air in – can be used to reduce the need for mechanical cooling.  Since conventional cooling methods can be energy and water intensive, reducing the load on those systems can drive significant savings.

With our three-pronged approach in hand, we undertook a pilot program to evaluate our strategy and begin building a business case to scale the effort within AT&T.

Implementing the pilots was not always a smooth process, but the bumps we encountered along the way taught us valuable lessons for rolling this out more broadly.  Some of these lessons were:

  • One size does not fit all: Each building is very unique in its characteristics. While some sites are newly updated, others have antiquated infrastructure and Building Management Systems. Recognizing those differences helped us develop unique strategies to address these diverse facility conditions.
  • Competing Priorities: The property managers juggle busy workloads and serve many customers, so adding water and energy efficiency initiatives to their plates can be challenging. Support from company leadership as property managers take on new responsibilities is critical for success.
  • Lack of water treatment expertise: Water treatment for cooling towers can be confusing and complicated. The task is often performed by outside vendors. Increasing the knowledge and expertise of those charged with managing water cooling towers can unlock water savings.
  • One of the benefits of pilot projects is to work out some of these hiccups before the project is scaled. The lessons we’re learning will make AT&T smarter for the next phase of the project.

Sharing the lessons

By working together, AT&T and EDF have the power to spread the knowledge that saving water is not only the right thing to do, but can also lead to significant cost savings throughout the industry. This unique initiative can potentially impact the way companies think about their water usage and lead to billions of gallons of water saved annually.

As I return to school, the pilots will continue to run. I'm inspired and proud to know that AT&T and EDF are pursuing water savings before the well runs dry!

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.

Shorenstein Fellow Reflects on Returning to EDF Climate Corps for Year Number Two

Fellow: Jaxon Love, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Shorenstein, MBA/MAcc Graduate at Lundquist School of Business, University of Oregon

Organization: Shorenstein

Opportunity: Jaxon Love began his 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellowship a year ahead of the pack

Summary: Jaxon Love is one of three 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellows participating in the program for a second year in a row. He was a fellow at Shorenstein in 2011 and is currently halfway through his second fellowship at the firm. We caught up with him to ask what brought him back.

Jaxon Love is one of three 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellows participating in the program for a second year in a row. He was a fellow at Shorenstein in 2011 and is currently halfway through his second fellowship at the firm. We caught up with him to ask what brought him back.

EDF: Tell us about your professional background. What were you doing before you became an EDF Climate Corps fellow?

Love: In 2010 I interned with the energy efficiency group at Pacific Gas and Electric. Prior to starting my MBA, I was a public policy and economics analyst with ECONorthwest, a consultancy in Portland, OR. Before that, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Jordan.

EDF: What initially attracted you to EDF Climate Corps?

Love: I was always interested in sustainability and eventually came to the conclusion that a focus on energy efficiency would maximize my environmental impact. Plus there seemed to be job opportunities in the space. EDF Climate Corps provides the ideal hands on experience one needs to kick start a career in energy efficiency.

EDF: What brought you back for your second EDF Climate Corps fellowship?

Love: I really enjoyed working at Shorenstein. My work is on the ground and detail oriented. My supervisors, Bill Young and Lisa Mize, are great. Real estate is a fascinating industry because there are so many challenges and opportunities, especially in energy efficiency.

In addition to completing traditional energy efficiency projects during my fellowship last year, I developed a green lease guide based on the BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) green lease, an industry standard. Plus I developed a tool for Shorenstein managers to use in tenant negotiations. This year I'm working on Shorestein's strategy for LEED re-certification. No one has really worked out LEED recertification for operations and maintenance yet because it's so new. So it's really exciting – I feel like my work is valuable to the organization.

EDF: You're the only second-year fellow who has stayed with the same host. Any reason for that?

Love: I wanted to continue with Shorenstein because I felt like there was still more I could learn and more value I could bring to the table. I also think Shorenstein saw that I was already trained into the position – It's nice to hire somebody who already knows the organization and what it's trying to achieve.

I personally think that repeating EDF Climate Corps should be encouraged, for both companies and fellows. I found so much value in coming back to the same company, picking up where I left off and taking my work deeper.

It's great that EDF Climate Corps is open to having both companies and fellows repeat for multiple years. My suspicion is that we EDF Climate Corps veterans will have more success the second time around and be a resource for the newbies. At least, that's what I'm hoping. My fingers are crossed, and I'm excited to see how it all unfolds!

Stay tuned to Jaxon Love’s page on edfclimatecorps.org for updates on his work this summer.

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.

 

Eight Ways National Geographic is Engaging Employees to Cut Costs

By Katie DeWitt, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at National Geographic Society, MBA candidate at University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business

Organization: National Geographic Society (Nat Geo)

Opportunity: 1,307 passionate employees

Summary: Though the National Geographic Society is best known for inspiring people to care about the planet through educational materials and breathtaking images, its internal environmental activities are equally impressive…though less visible to the public. This summer, I'm getting an inside view of those activities and writing to tell you what I see.

Despite today's tough economic climate, particularly for media and nonprofit organizations, National Geographic (Nat Geo) has an exceptionally "green" workplace, an otherwise expensive undertaking that has been made possible by its GoGreen Initiative.

GoGreen is an employee engagement program that protects the environment and Nat Geo’s bottom line by tapping into one of the organization's most bountiful, though unconventional, resources – the passion and creativity of Nat Geo employees themselves.

Founded in 2007 entirely by employee volunteers, GoGreen runs at low- to-no-cost to Nat Geo, and is an imitable model – here are 8 successful aspects of the program that could help any organization "Go Green."

1)    Green Fridays: Every other Friday during the summer, Nat Geo closes its office and reduces gas and electricity to a minimum, saving about $20,000 per year. Employees still work 40 hours in the four day week, but they've said they appreciate the long weekends!

2)    Demand response: This is Nat Geo’s third year in EnerNOC's nationwide energy conservation program – we're alternating air handlers and asking employees to turn off elevators, nonessential overhead lighting and office equipment to reduce power usage during the hottest and most humid days of summer. That takes some of the pressure to supply off of our electricity provider, and it's saving Nat Geo about $19,000 a year.

3)    Signage: Every month, the GoGreen team reminds Nat Geo staff of its environmental accomplishments – and how to improve on them – with a new round of posters. This month's set focused on turning off computer monitors at night and printing double-sided, touting admirable statistics: "Nat Geo headquarters staff made 442,000 fewer copies in 2010 than in 2009, saving enough 8.5 x 11 sheets to stretch from DC to Baltimore and back."

4)    Alternative modes of transportation: Nat Geo recently increased car parking fees at its headquarters, using the revenue to subsidize Capital Bikeshare memberships and SmartTrip multi-use metro farecards for employees. It also provides bike racks and showers for employees who bike to work and participated in DC’s Bike to Work Day as a host.

5)    Dish carts: The GoGreen team worked with Sodexo, Nat Geo’s sustainability-driven cafeteria retailer, to place dish carts on every floor of the Nat Geo headquarters. Now employees can take food from the cafeteria and conveniently return the reusable dishware, reducing waste from to-go containers.

6)    Composting and recycling: To make composting hassle-free for employees, every office also has a recycling basket beside the trash can; every floor has a composting bin; and all paper towels in the bathrooms and paper waste in the cafeteria are compostable.

7)    Greenpage: As part of Nat Geo's internal "intranet," employees get green news, tips and resources for personal sustainability, and a forum for GoGreen questions and feedback.

8) Energy vampire: Every Halloween, an “energy vampire” reminds employees to turn off their lights… or else. Throughout the rest of the year, two blue and green spandex characters fill in, modeling good and bad environmental behavior for the office.

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.

QTS 2012: Continuing the Quest for Data Center Energy Efficiency

By: Neeraj Mokha, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at QTS, MBA Candidate at Case Western Reserve University, Weatherhead School of Management

Organization: Quality Technology Services (QTS)
Opportunity: 3 million square feet of data center space
Challenge:Data centers require plenty of energy

Quality Technology Services (QTS) announced yesterday it hired Sukrit Sehgal, QTS’s 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow, as its first ever director of sustainability. Sehgal will work in the company’s newly created Sustainability and Recoveries Group. Even more exciting (for me!), is that QTS hired me as its second EDF Climate Corps fellow to drive further steps toward energy efficiency this summer.

While many of Sehgal’s recommendations from last summer are either complete or underway at QTS, the company has challenged me to identify even more efficiency opportunities in 2012. It’s quite a task, and I’ve got big shoes to fill.

QTS is one of the largest and fastest growing data center providers in the United States, managing more than 3 million square feet of data center infrastructure coast-to-coast. In addition to conventional data center energy challenges, QTS also faces entirely unique challenges due to the nature of its service as a multi-tenant data center (MTDC) provider.

Conventional Data Center Challenges

Standard data center energy management is tough. Servers require consistently low temperature and low humidity for optimal performance. Plus, customers’ IT infrastructures need to be up and running 24/7. Hence, energy-intensive cooling and dehumidification technologies must work around the clock.

Multi-Tenant Data Center Challenges

To understand MTDC challenges, it is important to understand colocation.  Customers bring their servers to a colocation facility, where they are then managed as tenants by a colocation provider like QTS. Providers manage clients of varying sizes with highly diverse requirements for humidity, power, space, temperature, etc.

Solutions

Both types of challenges prove the need to constantly monitor energy use, as we do here at QTS. And we’ve seen enormous opportunities for even further operational cost savings through energy efficiency. Here are some of the steps we're focusing on this summer:

1.       Establishing Policies to Increase Employee Involvement

QTS conducts internal competitions among its 12 sites, offering monthly rewards for identifying useful practices at data centers and allowing innovative ideas to surface from across the organization.

2.       Recording Metrics

By increasing the number of sites that report data on Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE), Carbon Usage Effectiveness (CUE) and Water Usage Effectiveness (WUE), one can help quantify the return on investment for energy efficiency to senior management and stakeholders. As any Climate Corps fellow knows, energy efficiency leads to better business and greater sustainability, but that's hard to show without the measurements to back it.

3.       Staying Knowledgeable about Incentives and Rebates

Familiarity with tax credits accelerated solar projects at QTS’s Richmond and Atlanta facilities earlier this year. Continuing to be on the lookout for available energy incentives and rebates will help QTS prioritize future energy plans.

In addition to energy efficiency solutions, I’m also looking at utilizing “grey water”– recycled water used to cool facilities – which QTS already does in its Santa Clara facility and is looking to do at other sites.

It’s clear that continuously evaluating sustainability efforts has the potential to uncover hidden savings, especially when it comes to energy usage at data centers – and the QTS team gets this. I’m looking forward to seeing what we uncover this summer. Stay tuned!

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.

A Hydrating Dose of Energy Efficiency: EDF Climate Corps Fellows at Nestlé Waters

By Justin Lindenmayer and Jenny McColloch, MBA Candidates, Yale University's School of Management, EDF Climate Corps Fellows 2011

With the most LEED certified factories (9), most water-efficient production process among all  packaged beverage companies in the US, and well on its way to achieving its goal of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2006 levels by 2013, what more could Nestlé Waters North America possibly do to improve its energy and water footprint? This is exactly the question that faced us on our first day as EDF Climate Corps Fellows at the largest bottled water company on the continent.

We began our journey armed with a week-long, EDF-led crash course in corporate energy efficiency and the peace of mind that Nestlé is dedicated to environmental stewardship.  Walking around the brand new corporate headquarters — another candidate for LEED Certification – during our first week gave us a virtual best practices manual in office energy efficiency but did nothing to build our confidence that we would find many “easy wins.”  (Here,  occupancy sensors, fluorescent lamps, tinted windows and Energy Star equipment abound.)

Fast forward ten weeks. After countless conversations with Nestlé Waters engineers, facilities and plant managers, financiers, accountants, EH&S experts and third party vendors; visits to bottling plants in Maine and Ohio; and consultations with E-Source, EDF Staff, and our peers in the Climate Corps community – we’ve identified three themes that have largely defined our experience, and that we feel are critical to bear in mind when playing in the energy efficiency sandbox.

1. Fresh eyes bring new perspectives

As well-established as a company’s existing energy efficiency infrastructure may be in terms of staff, money, commitments and overall resources, it is important to infuse it with new blood every once in a while. This allows consideration of previously unconsidered ideas, questions long-standing assumptions, and inspires some “why not” experiments. Moreover, new eyes always have the potential to identify new varieties of low-hanging fruit or fruit that’s been growing behind the leaves.

It didn’t take us long to notice the bright blue refrigerators holding Nestlé Waters products that flank the coffee stations on each of our office’s four floors. Our early conversations with the building engineer confirmed that the fridges stay on all night, despite the fact that no one is looking for a cold, refreshing, non-perishable bottle of water at 1 AM. Recognizing that all other energy-using equipment of significance shuts down each night in “unoccupied mode,” we asked ourselves and the building engineer why the fridges couldn’t be added to the unoccupied mix with a few simple programmable timers. A few calculations and conversations later, we teased out an extremely low-cost, almost immediate payback project for which we and the building engineer are equally enthusiastic about endorsing.

2. Even when opportunities are identified, they need legs to get them moving.

Regardless of how obvious the energy savings and discounted payback may seem on an energy efficiency project, at large manufacturing corporations, energy efficiency project proposals often need multiple champions to get them off the ground for implementation. Energy-related projects are regularly initiated by the plant personnel who double as efficiency sleuths on the factory floor. But identification is just the first step in an efficiency project’s journey through a deep web of savings calculations, layers of approvals, capital allocation and technology tweaks before reaching final implementation and realizing energy savings.

To implement energy efficiency improvements at scale nationwide, a coalition of advocates must understand corporate efficiency priorities and funding criteria, appreciate the differences in production systems across plants, and most importantly, utilize an effective communication system to leverage efficiency “wins” across such a sophisticated supply chain.

While most of the low-hanging fruit was addressed across Nestlé Waters’ plants long ago, a second generation of energy-saving projects unique to the beverage industry has developed and proved  challenging to scale across  diverse production environments nationwide. Our presence at Nestlé Waters this summer has facilitated communication among engineers, efficiency experts, plant managers and corporate champions –  enabling discussion of “apples-to-apples” best practices across plants and helping Nestlé Waters standardize the energy and cost saving calculations of plant-specific innovations.

3. Just because it’s hard to quantify doesn’t mean it’s not important.

While the EDF Climate Corps program has enabled the identification of millions of kilowatt hours and operational cost savings at leading corporations over its short history, a Climate Corps fellow’s projects often go far beyond the traditional numerical calculations that make energy efficiency projects so compelling. Many fellows help companies expand their energy management strategies, to design employee engagement systems or to review the latest energy efficiency financing approaches. This work is often difficult to quantify, but the project outcomes are vitally important to the success of widespread energy efficiency project implementation, and eventually, energy and cost savings.

At Nestlé Waters, one of our projects has involved working with the energy managers to establish the efficiency strategies for two very newly acquired brands: Sweet Leaf & Tradewinds Tea, which represent NWNA’s first foray into non-water beverages. While we are not responsible for calculating NPVs of potential efficiency improvements at these new facilities at this stage, our EDF Climate Corps training has been fundamental to our contributions.

With Nestlé Waters’ prioritization of energy efficiency across its operations, it’s been no surprise to us that the company has achieved such remarkable greenhouse gas emissions reductions despite its sustained growth. Indeed, Nestlé Waters’ bottled waters have the lightest carbon-footprint in the entire U.S. packaged beverage industry. It may be difficult to place a dollar figure on such a responsible corporate energy efficiency approach, but there’s no denying its value.

Dedicated effort, knowledge sharing and other learnings from the Greenbiz Forum

By Jake MacArthur, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at REI, MEM Candidate at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Member of Net Impact

A few weeks ago, I attended the GreenBiz.com Forum 2012 in San Francisco. The mix of keynotes, conversations, workshops and opportunities to network with other professionals sparked new ideas for continued improvement. In particular, I enjoyed hearing Nest Labs’ Matt Rogers’ One Great Idea and the keynote interview with the founders of Method. I was inspired by each of these companies’ ability to re-envision mundane and established products into innovative solutions to energy consumption and plastic waste.

Sitar Mody (EDF), Kirk Myers (REI), Alex Michalko (REI) and I presented our experience with EDF Climate Corps as a workshop on breaking down the barriers to energy efficiency. After reviewing programmatic successes and continued challenges, we broke into small groups and discussed the participants’ barriers. The workshop provided tested tools and highlighted our work at REI.

As a 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at REI, I worked primarily on identifying and evaluating energy efficiency projects at the corporate headquarters in Kent, WA. The REI Corporate Social Responsibility team joined the Climate Corps program in order to address a few specific barriers to achieving greater energy efficiency:

  1. Lack of resources
  2. Challenges with information sharing

Put simply, the facilities managers are too busy with their daily responsibilities to stay informed of efficiency opportunities and they lack the time to fully vet vendors. As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I brought training, program experience and a network of peers to remove these impediments. By serving as an energy efficiency clearinghouse, I coordinated projects across the cooperative and shared stories. My work culminated in one particular project – a smart lighting retrofit of one of the corporate office buildings. This retrofit, installed a few weeks ago, will save REI an estimated 175,000 kWhs and $15,000 annually. The project includes detailed monitoring and a controls system that will ensure accurate evaluation and long-term persistence. An added bonus, REI will be hiring its fourth EDF Climate Corps fellow to seek out even more energy savings this year.

Barriers to future efficiency gains will undoubtedly arise, but through continued innovation, dedicated effort and knowledge sharing, we can make dramatic cuts in energy use and operating costs.

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.

Sometimes it’s all a matter of perspective: EDF Climate Corps fellow finds savings at CA Technologies

By Shunsuke Numata, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at CA Technologies, MBA Candidate at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management

As an EDF Climate Corps Fellow at CA Technologies, it became readily apparent the company had already implemented many textbook energy management and reduction initiatives (i.e. installation of metering systems and replacement of end-of-life devices with sustainable alternatives, etc.).Discovering this, I realized I should examine things from a different perspective and look for opportunities that have gone unnoticed or overlooked because they are entrenched in “business as usual.” It is from this perspective that I found opportunities for as much as 500,000 KWH in energy reduction.

For example, when wandering the building at night, I noticed lights were on when no one was around, so the obvious question was: “Why?” Granted, there are some valid reasons for illuminating the building at night (for cleaning crews, etc.), but with that in mind, I was still able to find ways to change business as usual and reduce electricity usage.

By researching lighting schedules, I quickly realized adjustments could be made. To this end, I identified several projects and suggested that the company:

  1. Turn off the lighting at its Islandia facility an hour earlier – 10:30 PM instead of 11:30 PM
  2. Close the gym between the hours of 11 PM to 5 am when it was not being used.
  3. Create a “second shift” parking program to power-off lights in all but two lots.
  4. Reduce the intensity of interior lighting by de-lamping one of every three bulbs, and
  5. Eliminate decorative, non-essential lighting

After a fulfilling fellowship at CA Technologies, I’d have to say that my biggest take away was  the discovery that someone entering a situation with the proper training and  a fresh perspective can identify opportunities of low cost/no cost projects to reduce energy consumption that may have been overlooked. For the most part, work on the projects identified can be done internally and only requires changes to the LMS (lighting management system). Overall, my experience served its purpose, and EDF was a very useful resource for CA Technologies.  I was glad to be a part of it!

Do You Know How to Read Your Electricity Bill?

By: Koji Kitazume, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at REI, MBA/MEM Candidate at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Nicholas School of the Environment

Distribution centers get me excited – the massive space with inventory shelves high up to the ceiling, forklifts honking horns and crisscrossing the floor, conveyors and sorters in sync –the whole scene is fascinating to watch. So I was thrilled when my supervisor at REI offered me the opportunity to work on energy management for its LEED Silver-certified, 525,000-square-foot distribution center in Bedford, Pennsylvania.

My primary task as an EDF Climate Corps fellow at the outdoor retail co-op this summer was to develop an energy management roadmap for its eastern region distribution center, ranging from identifying energy saving opportunities for the immediate term to exploring potential business continuity solutions in the long run. With this scope, I got to work on various parts of the facility with providers of cutting-edge energy-related technologies such as advanced lighting controls, material handling systems, demand response applications, solid oxide fuel cells, etc.

While gaining insights into such distribution center operations and energy technologies was certainly a rewarding experience, the biggest learning for me came from where I least expected: the electric utility. The Bedford distribution center is served by the local electric co-op which belongs to the PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland) Interconnection zone, the largest competitive wholesale electricity market in the world. This landscape has an impact on the electric co-op’s rate schedule – highly sophisticated with multiple types and tiers of energy and demand charges.

When you have such a complex rate schedule, it’s not easy to figure out what’s driving your electricity bill. What’s more, working with averaged per-kWh rates (even for near-term future projections) could be risky, since that could completely change depending on your electricity usage and demand patterns. This becomes particularly critical when you’re doing your energy project investment analysis and basing your project revenue on future energy cost savings.

So it turned out that in addition to identifying energy saving opportunities and investigating potential solutions, a large part of my work involved analyzing the distribution center’s historical electricity usage and demand patterns, projecting future usage, and modeling how this would translate into electricity costs, given the electric co-op’s rate schedule. I know models can often be incorrect, but this one presented a more accurate picture of how costs behave rather than using averaged per-kWh rates. Hopefully, this will help REI make better-informed decisions on its future energy saving efforts and investments.

With my summer experience, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with electricity bills and now know exactly how the rate schedule for my own home works. Do you know how to read your electricity bill?

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.