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

 

EDF’s private equity work highlighted in Environmental Finance

Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) was featured in Environmental Finance. The piece centers on results from our work with the private equity sector on environmental initiatives like EDF Climate Corps and our ESG Management Tool. Below are a couple interesting excerpts from the article:

Creating a competitive advantage

When it comes to managing environmental, social and governance issues, the private equity industry is moving from 'why?' to 'how?', say Tom Murray and Lee Coker

Can you hear it? The private equity (PE) drumbeat for responsible investment is growing louder. 

In five years of leading this effort, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has seen the conversation shift fundamentally from why PE firms should care about environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, to how they can leverage ESG management to improve financial performance – while also driving better environmental and social outcomes.

Today, a whopping 92% of fund managers plan to increase their focus on ESG management in the next three to five years, according to research by Malk Sustainability Partners.

And our ongoing conversations with leading firms support the thesis that ESG issues are increasingly becoming top-of-mind, and not just from a theoretical perspective.

Simply put, PE firms are recognizing the importance of ESG assessment and integration throughout the investment process to decrease risk, improve returns and responsibly manage their institutional investors’ money…

Keys to getting started

Another terrific resource for getting started is EDF’s Climate Corps programme, which places specially trained MBA students in companies to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. It is a powerful way to obtain measurable results for investors, companies and the environment. Since 2008, we have placed 20 Climate Corps fellows at 12 different PE-backed portfolio companies. On average, EDF Climate Corps fellows have found $1 million in savings for their hosts with a total of $1.2 billion in identified savings since the programme began four years ago.

PE sponsors have included Apollo, Carlyle, CD&R, General Atlantic, KKR, Oak Hill Capital Partners and TPG. PE firms have also hosted fellows at the firm level, including CD&R, Carlyle Group’s Real Estate Fund and KKR’s Capstone.

 

To read the full article, visit Environmental Finance

Five barriers to energy efficiency savings – and how smart companies can overcome them

Here’s a business conundrum for you: energy efficiency saves serious money, cuts carbon pollution, requires low tech solutions, and is a known quotient, having been around since the 1970s. So why are so many companies still not taking the necessary steps to identify and eliminate these inefficiencies?

“What we learned in Econ 101 doesn’t hold true when it comes to energy efficiency – the notion of perfect markets, where information flows freely and people are maximizing their value,” notes Environmental Defense Fund’s Gwen Ruta. “Instead, it’s as if companies across the globe are walking around with a hole in their pocket with coins dribbling out nonstop.”

How is it that smart companies who are vigilant about monitoring the bottom line, stock price, customer satisfaction and much more let this wasteful “dribbling” occur?  This question launched a robust discussion at a Fortune Brainstorm Green session last week titled “A Trillion Dollar Opportunity: The Hunt for Energy Efficiency.” Gwen Ruta was joined on the panel by Gretchen Hancock, Project Manager for Corporate Environmental Programs at GE; Bill Weihl, Google’s Green Energy Czar and Beth Trask, Deputy Director of EDF’s Innovation Exchange.  GE and Google have made huge strides around energy efficiencies in past years, with still more work to do on the horizon and still some barriers of their own to break down.

So what are the main barriers to energy efficiency and how can companies try to overcome them? Read more

Building Energy Efficiency: “Cities are the answer! What was the question?”

Doug Foy, prominent Massachusetts-based environmental strategist, caught my attention with this quote at the Harvard Business School Think Tank on Energy, Environment and Business.  Doug’s point was that the 100 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are a key lever for addressing carbon emission reductions.  He cited that while nationally, 40-50% of carbon emissions come from buildings, in cities, that number goes up to 70%.

To address the issue of building energy efficiency, the focus has to be on strategies that are tied to long-term performance

Ken Hubbard of Hines, an international real estate firm, expanded further on the building energy efficiency marketplace citing that there are 74 billion square feet of existing building stock, which is replaced at 1% per year.  Hence, he emphasized that to address the issue of building energy efficiency, the focus has to be on retrofits and other supporting strategies, such as financial incentives that are tied to longer term building performance and metering. Read more

Why Walmart's Carbon Commitment Can Make Such a Difference

Archimedes said "Give me a place to stand, and I shall move the earth," when explaining the principle of levers.

Leverage is the big news about Walmart’s announcement today. The company has committed to reducing 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from its products’ lifecycle and supply chain over the next five years. That’s equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 3.8 million cars.

So is Walmart moving the earth? No, not yet. But this is precisely the kind of innovative approach to reducing carbon pollution that we need right now. Environmental Defense Fund worked closely with Walmart to craft this goal and project that makes the most of what Walmart can uniquely do to cut carbon pollution across the globe.

This commitment is bold because: Read more

How an inside look at EDF changed my perspective on corporate environmental management

If you happened to miss my previous post, I recently finished an externship in Environmental Defense Fund's Corporate Partnerships Program, working on the Green Returns team.  After graduating from Wharton last spring, I got the opportunity to work at EDF before beginning my full-time consulting job at Bain & Company.  When I started at EDF, I hoped that the experience would teach me about corporate environmental management and expose me to a new perspective.  After five months, I would say – mission accomplished. Read more

A Clockwork Green?

By Russell Baruffi, MBA/MS candidate, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Member of Net Impact.

Entertainment, which seems like a fairly harmless indulgence from your a movie theatre or your couch, turns out to be remarkably wasteful and resource-intensive industry. Working for Sony Pictures this summer, I got to dig in onto the sets. A movie can make millions or it can flop, so the industry spares no incremental expense or resource to create the marginal extra pizzazz that will spellbind an audience. For the climactic scene of an upcoming big-budget tent-pole movie, I saw film-makers build a fake riverbed of wood, steel and foam block stretching five stories tall, which they sculpted into a downward sloping terrain with a realistic skin of trees, bushes, bamboo and boulders, and proceeded to pump 80 thousand gallons of water over it in a continuous loop to create an actual river on the set. In the biz of show biz, millions of extra dollars spent making a two-minute scene really pop can be good economics, so energy, water and resource throughput is big.

This leaves lots of room for improvement. Read more

A Dollar Today: The Advantages of Building in Energy Controls

By Hunt Briggs, MBA/MS candidate, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Biltmore Farms, Member of Net Impact

I’ve worked with Biltmore Farms in Asheville, NC this summer, deciphering energy bills, tracking power demand trends and seeking cost-effective ways for the operations team to boost efficiency in their building portfolio. Read more

Looking through (insulated) glass for energy savings

By Katie Schindall, MBA/MEM candidate, Yale University, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Sodexo, member of Net Impact

Window film is cool stuff. Literally. It reflects the sun and insulates buildings. It is used to keep buildings cool on hot, sunny days, and to keep heat from escaping in cold climates.

According to an article published on FacilitiesNet in 2006, window film can reduce heat penetration up to 80 percent and improve insulation by as much as 32 percent for single-pane windows or as much as 23 percent for double-pane glass. Anecdotal evidence repeatedly notes increased employee comfort from the decreased solar glare and better insulation. Read more

The benefits of monitoring your building's performance

By Lindsay McCombs, MBA candidate, University of North Carolina, 2009 Climate Corps fellow at Grubb Properties, member of Net Impact

With falling asset values and limited access to capital, many in the real estate industry are spending their time on the next best thing to doing deals: going green. Not only do energy and water efficient buildings have relatively low operating costs, Asset Managers report that these buildings also have high occupancy rates, quick space absorption and proud tenants.

As a Climate Corps Intern, I am working with Grubb Properties to identify and evaluate energy efficiency improvements for their portfolio of commercial and multi-family real estate in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. In addition to working with existing buildings, I have been working with the development team to create efficiency guidelines for new construction.  I have helped internal committees establish company sustainability practices and evaluate the feasibility of using renewable energy to light buildings.

Last week, I attended the Urban Land Institute’s Investing and Developing Green conference to get a better sense of where the real estate industry is heading and the best ways to get involved with the green movement. Read more