It’s Got to Be About What You Do: KKR’s Green Portfolio Program Matures

Ken Mehlman, KKR

Ken Mehlman, Global Head of Public Affairs, KKR

Last week in Atlanta, Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts (KKR) Member and Head of Global Public Affairs Ken Mehlman summed up his approach to sustainability in a single sentence:  “it’s got to be about what you do.” The comment was in response to a panel that EDF moderated at KKR’s first annual sustainability summit, where guest panelists Jeff Foote from Coca-Cola, Mitch Jackson from FedEx, and Maury Wolfe from Intercontinental Hotels Group shared their successes and challenges in improving their organizations’ environmental performance. Ken highlighted a common theme in all three panelists’ remarks: for a company’s work on sustainability to have a real impact, it needs to be integrated into its core business model.

KKR has clearly taken the same lesson to heart. By integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into how it evaluates and manages portfolio companies, KKR has shown what that thinking can achieve for a private equity firm and its portfolio companies. Read more

EDF Climate Corps Fellows Finding Gold in the Value Chain

Energy efficiency is a goldmine, but not everyone has the time or resources to dig. That’s why for the past seven years, over three hundred organizations have turned to EDF Climate Corps for hands-on help to cut costs and carbon pollution through better energy management. And every year, the program delivers results: this year’s class of fellows found $130 million in potential energy savings across 102 organizations.

But this year we also saw something new. In addition to mining efficiencies in companies’ internal operations, the fellows were sent farther afield – to suppliers’ factories, distribution systems and franchisee networks. What they discovered demonstrated that there is plenty of gold to be found across entire value chains, if companies take the time to mine it.

Here are three places where EDF Climate Corps fellows struck gold: Read more

Corporate Buyers Demonstrate Demand for Renewables. Now it’s Time for the Market to Catch Up.

Last month, twelve major corporations announced a combined goal of buying 8.4 million megawatt hours of renewable energy each year and called for market changes to make these large-scale purchases possible. Their commitment shows that demand for renewables has reached the big time.

We're proud that eight of the twelve are EDF Climate Corps host organizations:  BloombergFacebookGeneral MotorsHewlett PackardProctor & GambleREISprint and Walmart. The coalition, brought together by the World Wildlife Fund and World Resources Institute, is demanding enough renewable energy to power 800,000 homes a year. And while it's great to see these big names in the headlines, they're not alone in calling for clean energy: 60 percent of the largest U.S. businesses have set public goals to increase their use of renewables, cut carbon pollution or both.

Companies want renewable energy because it makes good business sense:  it’s clean, diversifies their energy supply, helps them hedge against fuel price volatility and furthers their greenhouse gas reduction goals. Renewables are now the fastest-growing power generation sector, and by 2018, they’re expected to make up almost a quarter of the global power mix. Prices of solar panels have dropped 75 percent since 2008, and in some parts of the country, wind is already cost-competitive with coal and gas.

Read more

EDF Climate Corps fellows – right where they need to be

EDF Climate Corps on Years of Living Dangerously

Watch the episode featuring
EDF Climate Corps
Monday May 26th at 8 pm on Showtime

When the producers of Years of Living Dangerously – Showtime’s groundbreaking new series about climate change – were looking for a story of hope, they turned to EDF Climate Corps. The series, which brings the reality of climate change into your living room every Monday night, does not spare the viewer the devastating impact on people of wildfires, superstorms and droughts. But it also shows how people can be part of the solution to climate change. The three EDF Climate Corps fellows featured in this Monday’s (5/26) episode are protagonists in that story of hope. They show how saving energy benefits both the environment (by cutting carbon emissions) and the bottom line.

One exchange that Showtime caught on camera goes something like this:

Jessica Alba:  “Can you can walk into any organization and tell them how to save energy and money?”

Climate Corps fellow:  “Yes.”

EDF Climate Corps fellows are turning up in all kinds of interesting places this year. In January, Tyrone Davis joined the first lady to watch the State of the Union address. This month, fellows will appear on television to give people hope about solutions to climate change. And this week, we announced the 2014 class of Climate Corps fellows – 117 top grad students chosen from close to 700 applications – all going to where the biggest opportunities are to save energy.

EDF Climate Corps Working in Key Geographies

This year, we’ll have six Climate Corps fellows in China, now the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas. About two-thirds of our 117 engagements will be in the nine U.S. states that consume over 50% of the nation’s energy. And 16 of those will be in Chicago accelerating progress toward the city’s 20% energy reduction goal.

EDF Climate Corps Helping Key Sectors 

Climate Corps fellows continue to work in large commercial buildings like the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. But we’ve also expanded the sectors in which we work to include manufacturing (with Legrand, Lockheed Martin and Owens Corning), cities (Baltimore, Boston and Los Angeles) universities (Clark Atlanta and the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center), data centers (RBS Citizens and Comcast), utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric), and even military bases (US Army at Fort Bragg).

EDF Climate Corps Tackling Diverse Projects

The 2014 class of Climate Corps fellows are working on a wider range of projects than ever before. About half will be working on building energy efficiency. The rest of the projects include:

  • Energy strategy, data management and employee engagement
  • Water efficiency – implementing the unique toolkit that EDF developed with AT&T
  • Supply chain logistics – integrating our expertise in green freight and operating more efficient warehouses

EDF Climate Corps is recruiting, training and deploying the sustainability leaders of tomorrow; a viral solution that gives us hope that we can bend the curve on carbon emissions and avoid the worst impacts of a warming world. But don’t just take my word for it. Tune into “Years of Living Dangerously” on Monday May 26th at 8pm on Showtime. See for yourselves how our fellows helped Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Texas Southern University and Office Depot scale their energy management efforts.

 

Also of interest:

Years of Living Dangerously: Two producers, coffee and a vision for climate action

Behind the Showtime cameras with EDF Climate Corps fellows

EDF Climate Corps, creating a new generation of leaders

 

Environmental Lessons from the Super Bowl: Set Big Goals and Play to Win

We'll hear plenty of amateur quarterbacking about this year’s Super Bowl, but there’s a lesson from the game that applies equally to sports and to business: set an aggressive goal and you’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible.superbowl 2014

Cutting carbon emissions is no different. In our experience, the most successful companies set stretch goals that they don’t yet know how to achieve. In doing so, they unleash a wave of creativity and innovation within their organizations, and reap far bigger financial and environmental rewards than if they had played it safe. Read more

EDF Climate Corps – Creating a New Generation of Leaders

Tyrone Davis

Tyrone Davis

In his State of the Union Address last night, President Obama offered a new twist on the customary pronouncement on the nation’s health, saying “it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.”

Seated in the gallery with the First Lady were some shining examples of those citizens.  One of them was former EDF Climate Corps fellow, Tyrone Davis.

Tyrone is from Winston-Salem, NC, and has been legally blind since the age of nine.  Despite his vision loss, he ran cross-country and track in high school, and received a political science degree and Masters of Public Administration from North Carolina State University.  He developed an interest in environmental issues during his time as an undergraduate, which led him to apply for an EDF Climate Corps fellowship in 2010. Read more

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 Climate Corps Turns Five, Continues to Surprise

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world. With over 900 million users, the social media site now has a market valuation of $104 billion – all because of a clever idea conceived in a college dorm room eight years ago.

A good idea taken to scale can be surprisingly powerful. EDF Climate Corps is just that. Each year since 2008, EDF has placed specially trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and other public entities to develop customized energy efficiency investment plans that cut costs and emissions.  To date, this program has identified $1 billion in energy savings, enough to power 100,000 homes each year and avoid the emissions of 200,000 cars.

EDF Climate Corps started five years ago as a good idea, with just seven fellows working in Bay Area companies.  When these fellows found $35 million in energy savings, EDF realized we had a powerful model that we could both scale nationally and extend into other sectors.

Today, we’re announcing the 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellows and the 88 organizations – including Facebook – where they will be working to bring energy efficiency to scale.  With this class, we will have trained and embedded 285 fellows in 186 organizations. And the power and versatility of this good idea keeps surprising us.

Delivering results across sectors

The EDF Climate Corps model has proven successful across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.  This year we’ve got a more diverse group of host organizations than ever, with tech giants Google and Facebook, industrial companies Caterpillar and Cummins, public school systems in Boston, Chicago and Houston, city governments in Dallas and New Orleans, and even the America’s Cup sailing race.

Engaging human capital

When we started EDF Climate Corps, it was all about technology – lighting, climate control systems and office equipment. Now, more and more organizations are tasking their fellows with developing employee engagement campaigns – organizing office green teams and challenging employees to take charge of reducing their energy use. This is consistent with the trend we see of looking beyond the low-hanging fruit to the organizational changes that can deliver systemic and lasting reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Building the movement for energy efficiency

A growing number of national and place-based initiatives have emerged to capture the huge economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.  We’re seeing increasing overlap between these programs — including the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, the C40 Cities, and the Seattle 2030 and Cleveland 2030 districts, and EDF Climate Corps.  By identifying immediate and cost-effective ways to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Corps puts organizations on the fast track to meeting their commitments under these programs.

One thing hasn’t changed in the last five years:  EDF Climate Corps delivers real results for the climate and the bottom line.  The program works well regardless of where an organization is on its energy efficiency journey.  For hosts that already have a robust energy management program, EDF Climate Corps fellows provides skilled hands and a laser focus on efficiency that gets projects over the goal line. For others, the fellow is there to get the ball rolling, identifying quick wins and building momentum for further progress.

Happy fifth birthday, EDF Climate Corps!  Stay tuned to our blog all summer, where fellows, host organizations and EDF staff will report out on the good ideas they have this summer and the surprises that are sure to accompany them.

 

Reasons to be cheerful: EDF Climate Corps finds $650 million in energy savings.

By: Victoria Mills, Managing Director of Corporate Partnerships for EDF, and Michael Regan, Director of Energy Efficiency, EDF

Recent headlines paint a gloomy picture of our economy, with its looming deficits and stubborn unemployment rate. And let’s not forget the steady stream of evidence that climate change is already happening.  But today, a ray of sunshine breaks through these cloudy skies:  the news that companies, cities and universities  have found ways to save millions of dollars while avoiding hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon pollution.  How did they do it?  EDF Climate Corps.

Today, EDF announced that this summer’s class of Climate Corps fellows uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems that can:

  • Cut 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity use and 27 million therms of natural gas annually, equivalent to the annual energy use of 38,000 homes;
  • Avoid 440,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of 87,000 passenger vehicles; and
  • Save $650 million in net operational costs over the project lifetimes.

Thanks to the work of our EDF Climate Corps fellows, organizations as diverse as McDonald’s, Target, the New York City Housing Authority, and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University all found significant cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions through energy efficiency.  This is indeed cause for celebration.

But imagine how good the news would be if everyone reaped the full benefits of energy efficiency.  The opportunity is enormous:  McKinsey & Co. estimate that by 2020, the U.S. could reduce its energy consumption by 23 percent through energy efficiency measures, cutting CO2 emissions by over a gigaton and saving over a trillion dollars.

EDF created Climate Corps to cut carbon pollution by overcoming the barriers that prevent organizations from investing in energy efficiency.  Now in its fourth year, EDF Climate Corps has grown from 7 fellows in 2008 to 96 in 2011, and expanded to a nationwide program that spans corporate, academic and government sectors.  For us at EDF, the best news of all is our implementation rate:  to date, projects accounting for 86 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008-2010 EDF Climate Corps fellows are complete or underway.

We’d love to bring some of this good news to your organization.  Visit edfclimatecorps.org to learn how to hire an EDF Climate Corps fellow in 2012, or email us at info@edfclimatecorps.org.

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.

Shining a Light on Energy Efficiency: EDF Climate Corps reflects on three years of results

As any energy manager knows, it’s one thing to find energy-saving projects that are worth doing, and quite another to get them implemented.  Over the last three years, EDF Climate Corps fellows have uncovered almost a billion kilowatt hours of potential energy savings, representing $439 million in net operating savings.  But our biggest question has always been, “Will the companies move forward with those energy-saving investments after the fellows leave?”  Thankfully, the answer is yes:  so far, companies report that they are implementing projects accounting for 86 percent of the savings identified by EDF Climate Corps fellows.

This year, as we looked back on three years of results, we noticed that many of the projects that got implemented first were lighting projects.  For example, Hospital Corporation of America will roll out a lighting retrofit program across the organization, and eBay recently upgraded the lighting in a 60,000-square foot building on its San Jose campus.  Other companies are employing devices to make sure the lights are on only when people need them:  AT&T will install occupancy sensors in its 250 largest central offices, and Sungard is optimizing the lighting timers in its New York City office.

This is no surprise if you’ve ever looked at the ROI on lighting projects.  The upfront costs tend to be relatively low – zero in the case of delamping or switching timer settings – so payback time is short.  And lighting projects are pretty straightforward to identify.  You can often spot ways to cut lighting costs just by walking through a building, and use a $50 light logger to document when the lights are on and don’t need to be, as our fellow at AT&T did.

Beyond lighting, EDF Climate Corps companies are also implementing upgrades to HVAC systems, office equipment, and data centers.  Eaton is moving forward with an air circulation improvement in a North Carolina plant that could yield an annual electricity reduction of 2.5 million kWh.  eBay is currently installing power management software for all of its PCs.  And Cisco has raised temperatures in some of its research labs, which could save the company about $1.8 million and 18 million kWh of electricity annually.

But if we’ve learned anything about energy efficiency over the last three years, it’s that it has as much to do with changing behavior as changing lightbulbs.  And EDF Climate Corps fellows have contributed to several projects that integrate energy and environmental data into a range of business decisions.

For example, Compass Group North America created a web-based toolkit for its food service clients, illuminating choices they can make to cut their carbon emissions.  And Diversey has introduced several decision-support tools with the help of its EDF Climate Corps fellow, including one that factors energy and carbon emissions into capital expenditures, and another that tracks savings from avoided travel.  As the firm’s global travel is 10 percent of its carbon footprint, Diversey estimates $6 million in annual savings from reduced travel that can be invested in other energy projects.

Putting the facts about energy use and greenhouse gas emissions into decision-makers’ hands is a powerful way to spotlight the business and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, and move energy-saving projects forward.  Another bright idea brought to you by EDF Climate Corps.

Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page to get regular updates about this project.