Can Facebook, Google and Microsoft inspire data center innovation at Climate Week?

One focus area at this week’s UN Climate Action Summit is Energy Transition, where one of the expected outcomes is bold new “commitments from the IT sector (individually or collectively) on energy efficiency and the leveraging of technology.”

I’m excited to see what new commitments and momentum arise from Climate Week because emerging technologies like sensors, analytics, and AI can play an important role in the transition to a 100% clean economy – which means that by 2050, we can’t produce any more climate pollution than we can pull out of the air. Getting there will involve shifting our entire economy – power plants, transportation, factories, and more – as well as developing and deploying new technology that can make 100% clean a reality.

The good news for businesses is that investing in and developing cutting-edge technologies also boosts the bottom line. Read more

Clean Energy is Just Smart Business for Leaders like Apple, Google

by Peter Sopher, Policy Analyst, Clean Energy

Apple and Google have changed our lives forever, both because of their technological innovations and sheer size as global corporations. Now, they’re aiming to reshape the energy landscape.

apple-google againThis month, Apple announced plans to spend nearly $2 billion on European data centers set to run entirely on renewable energy and invested $848 million to secure power from 130MW of First Solar’s California Flats Solar Project under a 25-year power purchase agreement. Google also agreed to replace 370 wind turbines installed in the 1980s with 24 new, more efficient and bird-friendly turbines at the Altamont Pass in the San Francisco Bay Area. Moreover, there has been recent speculation Apple may be working on an electric vehicle to challenge Tesla’s dominance in that market.

These developments are impressive on their own, but they are also part of a new trend among major corporations – whose primary focus is not energy generation – proactively pursuing clean energy projects.  So, why are they doing this?

For corporations whose businesses do not rely on fossil fuels, aligning themselves with clean power is proving a prudent move both financially and for public relations. 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

It’s in the Perks: The Energy Behind Facebook’s On-Campus Amenities

By: Naveen Lakshmipathy, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Facebook, MBA/MS Candidate at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business 

Facebook offers some fabulous amenities to its employees.  These perks include cafeterias that serve three meals a day and a robust transportation program that keeps a large and ever-growing percentage of employees out of their cars.  The company is planning even more offerings, including a state-of-the-art fitness center and additional food options, as it moves to its expansive new campus in Menlo Park, CA.  These amenities keep employees happy and healthy, and help make their lives easier by reducing the need to run errands throughout the workday.

Food is Energy

I am one of a team of three EDF Climate Corps fellows at Facebook this summer, working to make a business case for investments in energy efficiency.  Given the important role that amenities play in Facebook’s corporate culture, our team was excited to take on the task of examining how these services could be more energy-efficient.  The place to start was clear: food.  It is easy to see (and taste) why food service is so highly valued by Facebook employees. Facebook’s kitchens—and the professionalism of its culinary staff—are a sight to behold.  I marvel every day at how a handful of individuals in tiny quarters can prepare thousands of delicious multi-course meals each day.  Looking inside the kitchen at mealtimes, I always see a well-oiled machine in which everyone knows their role, appearing to shift effortlessly from chopping and sautéing to serving and cleaning without taking even a second to think.  Despite our lack of prior knowledge about large-scale food service operations, we knew it would be important that any change in the name of energy efficiency would not disrupt this impressive dynamic.

Ask for Help

We decided to invite Todd Bell, an expert from PG&E’s Food Service Technology Center, to visit our cafeterias in order to provide practical and economical energy efficiency recommendations.  His first observation was that almost all of Facebook’s kitchen appliances were relatively new and Energy Star certified, and thus were already quite energy efficient.  He did, however, identify a few high-impact areas for improvement that would not only promote energy efficiency, but would likely even improve the operating environment of the kitchen.

The most significant of these recommendations involved the kitchen’s exhaust ventilation technology.  Commercial kitchens, like home kitchens, have exhaust hoods that draw out hot air and smoke during the cooking process.  In commercial kitchens, these hoods have powerful, noisy, energy-sucking fans and motors.  By law, exhaust hoods must be kept on whenever any food is being prepared.  In the case of Facebook’s kitchens, this is over 20 hours a day.  Unfortunately, almost all standard kitchen hoods have only one setting, running at full power no matter how much heat and smoke are actually being produced.  A technology called demand ventilation changes this.  Demand ventilation systems, which can be retrofitted onto existing hoods, incorporate temperature and smoke sensors with variable frequency drives (VFDs) that allow exhaust hoods to automatically operate at different speeds and power levels depending on actual temperature and smoke levels.  Given the intensive use of the exhaust hoods in Facebook’s kitchens, this technology has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in energy cost savings.  More important, perhaps, is the potential effect on the kitchen environment.  Demand ventilation is praised by professional chefs who benefit from the technology’s ability reduce noise in the kitchen environment while preserving indoor air quality.  Current utility subsidies make installation of the technology a no-brainer for many commercial kitchens.

Working it Out

We found another opportunity to promote energy efficiency in Facebook’s new employee fitness center.  In many fitness centers, cardio equipment and entertainment displays stay on at night, drawing phantom power even while not in use. We are working with the management company and facilities staff to create a procedure for automatic or manual power-down of equipment during off hours.

As Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park continues to develop and new on-campus amenities come online, it will be important to continually examine how to make these services as energy efficient as possible. As it does with other sustainability choices, we are encouraging Facebook to analyze the full life-cycle impact of choices related to amenities.  For example, what is the comparative environmental impact of washing fitness center towels in-house versus outsourcing the service to a centralized laundry facility?  Thoroughly analyzing choices like this will help give the company a fuller and ultimately more realistic understanding of its environmental impact.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.

Seeing the Light at Facebook: Top three lessons on energy-efficient lighting design

By: Naveen Lakshmipathy, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Facebook, MBA/MS Candidate at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

As I enter the first completed building of Facebook’s brand-new office campus in Menlo Park, CA, I’m greeted by a scene that feels fresh but distinctly familiar.  An exposed steel beam punctuates a hallway.  Ventilation ducts and ethernet cables run across the ceiling in full view, like veins and neural pathways.  Purple knit beanbag chairs sit with other funky furnishings on concrete floors.  Open-plan office spaces enable conversation and collaboration with an easy swivel of chairs.  Yes, these are unmistakable hallmarks of Facebook, a company whose office design is an extension (and enabler) of its culture: social, young, scrappy, innovative and unfinished.

I’m part of a team of three EDF Climate Corps fellows at Facebook this summer looking at ways to make the company’s new one-million-square-foot office campus more energy efficient.  One of my responsibilities is lighting.  The Energy Information Administration estimates that lighting consumes approximately 21% of the energy used in U.S. commercial buildings, making lighting a vital component of any company’s energy efficiency strategy.

Facebook’s goals for its lighting system are simple: make efficient use of daylight, lighting controls, and efficient fixtures to save energy and keep employees comfortable, while preserving the company’s unfinished, garage-like office aesthetic.  I’ve learned a number of important lessons about energy-efficient lighting design while at Facebook.  Here are my top three:

1.       You don’t have to compromise between design and efficiency…as long as you plan ahead.

The best way to incorporate energy efficiency in lighting and other systems without sacrificing design goals is through integrated design.  In integrated design, people involved in different aspects of building design – from architects to engineers to energy efficiency experts – sit down at the same table in a collaborative, iterative process.  This ensures that all factors are considered from the start.  Indeed, the earlier energy efficiency is taken into account, the greater potential there is to achieve significant, cost-effective results.  If energy efficiency considerations are an afterthought, the results are likely to be poorly integrated into overall design objectives and more expensive to implement.

Where can integrated design help Facebook?  Despite the dizzyingly fast pace of development at Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, the company can take an approach that incorporates energy efficiency expertise into the overall design process.  This can ensure, for example, that walls and ceilings are painted appropriate colors to reflect light where it is optimal to do so.  As Climate Corps fellows, we are encouraging Facebook to take the integrated design approach.

2.       Be sure to have lighting “control narratives,” and test against them.

If you want to effectively use lighting controls such as occupancy and daylight sensors to modulate light levels and optimize energy efficiency, it is important to articulate what lighting designers call a “control narrative”:  a concise statement that describes how you want your lighting system to behave.  Good control narratives ensure that building occupants and operators know how systems are supposed to function and that controls contractors can calibrate and test them.

How can control narratives promote energy efficiency?  Take this case in point: Facebook’s offices are peppered with “cozies” – tiny six-by-eight rooms intended for small meetings and individual phone calls.  These cozies are controlled by occupancy sensors that should operate under the following control narrative:

When an occupant enters the cozy, the lights should automatically turn on to the 50-percent brightness level.  The occupant can manually adjust the lights to full brightness if desired.  When the room is vacated, the lights should turn off within five minutes (the minimum setting allowed by the sensor). 

At least, this is how the control system is supposed to operate.   On our first walk-through of the new building, it was easy to notice that many of the cozies did not operate this way.  When we pulled off the face of the occupancy sensor and checked its settings, we realized that many sensors were set to turn off after ten minutes, not five.  We also realized that the sensors had other, energy-saving functions that were not being utilized at all, such as a “walk-through” setting to prevent false triggering when people enter momentarily but don’t stay.  (Perhaps re-adjusting these sensors could be a project for a future Facebook Hackathon?)

Developing and testing control narratives is an important practice to maximize daylight use as well, by controlling when and where lights dim or turn off in response to natural light.  As EDF Climate Corps fellows, we’re verifying the existing control narratives in Facebook’s new offices, and promoting more energy-efficient control narratives where feasible.

3.       Productivity and occupant comfort are important arguments for efficient design.

Efficient lighting systems not only minimize energy use, but can also improve occupant comfort. As another EDF Climate Corps fellow at Facebook pointed out in her recent blog post, research shows a positive relationship between workplace comfort and productivity.  Numerous studies indicate that effective use of daylight in particular improves productivity.  Conversely, incorrect lighting design choices can lead to work environments that are over- or underlit, have excessive glare, or are otherwise uncomfortable for workers.  If a lighting design improvement could reduce eyestrain and help every employee be productive for even 15 more minutes per day, the combined effect at a company like Facebook is huge.  At the Menlo Park campus, we’re searching for ways that daylight can be used more effectively to minimize the need for artificial lighting and improve the overall office environment.  Save energy, save money, and increase productivity – it’s a win-win-win!

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.

Facebook: Efficiency Empowered

By Esra Kucukciftci, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Facebook, MBA Candidate at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Facebook is on the move… literally. In relocating its headquarter campus, the company recently redesigned and retrofitted the former Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, CA, to LEED Gold standard while also integrating attributes of its own culture into the retrofit. New open office spaces reflect Facebook’s ways: flexible, comfortable and social. The company greatly values its employees’ comfort in and preferences for their work spaces. It sees its built environment as a prominent contributor to their productivity.

When I was charged with developing Facebook’s integrated energy management program earlier this summer, it quickly became apparent that this task was inherently about improving indoor environmental comfort.  I knew this was a unique opportunity, as I would be able to present energy efficiency as a means to improve the building occupants’ efficiency. Using integrated design to enhance work space efficiency is an up-and-coming concept for efficiency practitioners, and I’m excited to be working on the forefront.

Integrating Efficiency into Design: Perception is Everything

The most energy efficient design is not always the desired solution, especially when it comes to weaving the company culture into the built environment. This is where an integrated energy management system (EMS) comes into play. The analytics to be provided by Facebook’s new EMS will optimize energy consumption with respect to the occupants’ comfort and use patterns. Enhancing the occupants’ perceived indoor comfort through integrated energy management can be an invaluable way to gain insights and buy-in for advancing an energy efficiency mindset. The Center for the Built Environment in Berkeley, CA, and energy practitioners all around the country, recommend periodically surveying occupants’ perceived indoor environmental quality- as a best practice.

Energy Efficiency Benefits: Going Beyond Cost Savings

Building owners, facility managers, and designers can make better-informed choices when they understand the positive impacts of energy efficient design. Many emerging studies have sought to quantify the value of the non-energy benefits of energy efficiency. For example, Hall and Roth of TecMarket Works investigated the public benefits of energy efficiency programs. Among the operational areas examined were sales levels, productivity, equipment life, personnel needs, defect and error rates, and employee morale. They reported that “businesses place significant importance on the non-energy benefits associated with the installed technologies, and that the value of these benefits are equal to about 2.5 times the projected energy savings for the installed measures. On average, each Partner reported 3.27 non-energy benefits that have cash value to their business operations for each technology installed.”

To Attract Top Talent, Energy Management is Mandatory

For technology companies such as Facebook, a critical issue to consider when implementing energy best practices is their immense competition to attract the best talent. Since Generation X and the millennials will have major effects in the future of talent it is equally important for technology companies to adjust company policies to appeal to the expectations of this particular talent pool. Cetron and Davies argue (World Future Society, Trends Shaping Tomorrow’s World: Forecasts and Implications for Business, Government, and Consumers-Part Two) that “[e]mployers will have to adjust virtually all their policies and practices to the value of these new and different generations.”

The built environments for technology companies, as for many companies, are part of their core culture and success factors. Since sustainability is a rising concern for Generation X and millennials, it will be all the more essential for technology companies to appeal to and accommodate this talent pool’s expectations when designing their built environment.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.

Facebook’s EDF Climate Corps Fellow Explores Social Networking’s Role in the Energy Revolution

By Esra Kucukciftci, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Facebook, MBA Candidate at Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Creating an energy intelligence vision for Facebook, a company that quickly and completely changed the world’s vision for communications, is no small task. Facebook continues to transform the ways we receive and use information every day. And we, Facebook’s three EDF Climate Corps fellows, are spending this summer developing new ways for the company to receive and use its energy information going forward.

To understand Facebook, we must first understand the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space. In the past decade, ICT has revolutionized the business landscape by improving productivity and cost effectiveness of many industries. And ICT is once again transforming businesses – this time in energy systems. Portable and networked, ICT will continue to dominate both economical and societal change enabled by enhanced electronic data processing and artificial intelligence. In The Futurist (May-June 2008), Cetron and Davies argue that “all the technical knowledge we work with today will represent only 1% of the knowledge that will be available in 2050.”

Megatrends are shaping ICT’s role in the energy revolution

As the global demand for all energy sources is estimated to grow by 57% over the next 25 years, we are in the midst of witnessing revolutionary megatrends in the world’s energy supply and demand. Energy security and long-term energy costs are likely to become the next great challenge and opportunity for today’s businesses. ICT leaders are now increasingly acknowledging the application of computing intelligence as critical to solving an array of demanding societal problems in the fields of energy, public, and utility services. The IT industry is increasingly extending its reach into the energy and building management systems ecosystem too. According to, “300 million smart meters for energy, water and gas [are] expected to be in use globally within a few years.” Many ICT leaders such as IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, and SAP are among the most recent companies to ride the wave to transform energy efficiency technologies into enterprise networked energy management systems (EMS). The ICT industry rightly sees the considerable growth potential in using smart technologies to transform our built environment.

The business sector is realizing that “Efficiency is Profitable”

The business sector is boarding the efficiency train too. EDF’s Climate Corps program is in its fourth year helping businesses lead change towards an energy conscious economy. Companies have long viewed their energy efficiency spend as an additional expense. However, life-cycle and return-on-investment-based decision tools such as EDF Climate Corps’ Financial Analysis Tool are making it possible for people like Climate Corps fellows to build a business case for cost-effective, efficient operations and valuable energy investments.

Here at Facebook, the idea that efficiency is profitable is old news. Immersed in Facebook’s high-speed culture, the three of us Climate Corps fellows feel fortunate that the path to efficiency has long been paved by Facebook employees before us. The recent launch of the Open Compute Project in Spring 2011 further established Facebook’s efficiency mindset. And in case we forget, the bright green signs surrounding our work space remind us that “Efficiency is Profitable.”

Social networks can play a leading role in pointing social norms toward energy efficiency

Today’s internet and socially-connected world is giving sustainability thought leaders and energy efficiency advocates access to audiences they could have never reached by traditional means. Both residential and commercial sectors lack coordination and direction, and Facebook’s reach could just be the tipping point it might take for society to adopt energy and sustainability best practices en masse.

Sustainability and energy efficiency are no longer novel concepts. The window of opportunity to leverage energy efficiency for positive growth and lead the change is getting smaller, which makes it such an exciting time for social networks to play an important role in pointing social norms towards energy efficiency. Data does not necessarily make us smarter, but our collective action based on data certainly makes us stronger. Facebook has proven that “social” makes things happen. Since social networks lead the societal change that transforms information into intelligence, I think we can all log on and be leaders in making this energy intelligence vision come true.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.

Making It Social at Facebook’s Headquarters: Energy Efficiency Sleuthing, Hackathon-Style

By Cynthia Shih, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Facebook, MBA/MS Candidate at University of Michigan’s Erb Institute

It’s 9:45 pm on a Tuesday, and I’m hunched over a laptop at a desk that isn’t mine, while two men clip wires to an electrical panel and onlookers crane their heads expectantly. Techno music blares from just around the corner, courtesy of a mustachioed DJ wearing a cape. Someone asks, “Did you set the CT amp rating?” Someone else announces, “I’m going to go stare down the espresso machine.”

This is not your typical day (or night) at the office. We’re at Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters, and this is a Hackathon.

Our charge as EDF Climate Corps fellows is to make the business case for energy efficiency in the context of each company’s unique culture. We need to know the terminology that resonates with different decision-makers and understand how environmental responsibility aligns with the company’s core mission. So on this Tuesday night, I’m here not only for the literal task at hand—getting a data-logging power meter up and running—but to understand a bit more of what Facebook is really about and what its own particular brand of energy management might look like.

Here are some lessons I’ve absorbed from a late night at Facebook:

Do it yourself. To establish a baseline for the energy consumed by pluggable devices (computers, appliances, and so on), we need a plug load audit. I’m researching energy auditing services when we catch wind of a rumor: A Hackathon is coming up! When one of these events is announced at Facebook, people put aside their “real” work and stay late, sometimes all night, to turn cool new ideas into functioning prototypes. So we throw together our own Facilities/Green/Climate Corps Hackathon team. We gather as much metering equipment as we can and draw up worksheets for recording data. After dinner we dispatch a small army of volunteers to comb the buildings with Kill A Watt meters to measure the wattage of coffeemakers, conference room screens, computer monitors, beverage coolers, anything they can find with a plug. The chief building engineer helps us hook up some ELITEpro meters directly to circuits on electrical panels so we can monitor the energy use of whole departments over time. By the time the last volunteer has bowed out, yawning, we’ve collected plenty of data to sketch a profile of our office plug load. Not bad for a night’s work.

Find it for free. We got all that metering equipment without paying a dime thanks to my fellow EDF Climate Corps fellow here at Facebook, Esra Kucukciftci. Before her first day on the job, she connected with the Pacific Energy Center, PG&E’s educational and advisory resource for commercial building efficiency. Through the PEC’s Tool Lending Library, we currently have over a dozen electricity meters and other equipment on loan for the duration of our fellowships. Esra is also bringing in several PEC experts for free consultations on potential projects we’re exploring for Facebook’s new campus. And we’re drawing on the wealth of resources EDF provides for Climate Corps fellows, such as topic-specific expert calls, the E-Source Corporate Energy Managers Consortium, and discussion threads on the EDF Climate Corps’ private online forum.

Make it social. Hackathons are as much about bringing people together and having fun as they are about working feverishly. About half of Facebook’s Facilities department turns up to help with our project, sharing stories and ideas as we pass out the power meters. A guy from IT gives us beginner lessons on Ripstiks, those twisty skateboard-like things that many Facebookers use to zoom around the office. I strike up a conversation with the VP of Engineering. I wander into a conference-room-turned-music-jam-session and play some drums with college interns taking a break from their all-night coding sprint. We even make friends with the coffee vendor on her nightly rounds, after she politely informs us that she has to reprogram all the coffee machines we’ve unplugged (oops). The conversation actually reveals some valuable insights on how the kitchen amenities are maintained and new ways we might be able to save both electricity and water. These unexpected connections help paint a more complete picture of the people we work with—the same people, if all goes well, who will champion energy efficiency after we leave and implement the projects we’ve identified.

The next morning, there are interns sleeping all over the office: conference rooms, lobby couches, under desks. I’m pretty tired myself. For the deeper glimpse into what makes this company tick, though, it was well worth a few hours of lost sleep.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.

Energy Efficiency Is Now Friends With Facebook: 3 Fellows Launch Treasure Hunt for Savings

By Cynthia Shih, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Facebook, MBA/MS Candidate at University of Michigan’s Erb Institute


These bold-lettered signs are all over Facebook’s Palo Alto, CA headquarters, and they’re a perfect crash course on the culture here. Relentless experimentation (“hacking,” as it’s proudly called) is the heart of the company: come up with a good idea, recruit smart people to help, throw something together, keep improving on it. Welcome to the force that’s built the world’s biggest social network.

Walking around during my first day, as one of three EDF Climate Corps fellows working to identify energy-saving solutions for Facebook this summer, I feel both exhilarated and anxious. The three of us Climate Corps fellows definitely intend to move fast and fearlessly—the company is relocating to a new campus soon, with design and construction decisions happening daily. But how quickly can we find out what programs are already in place, who the resident experts are, what needs to be measured, and when decisions are being finalized? And what does energy efficiency in office buildings mean for a young, growing company with employees who work around the clock?

Fortunately, EDF has provided an invaluable tool to get us started: its new “Barriers to Energy Efficiency/Company On-Boarding Conversation Guide” that every Climate Corps fellow will fill out upon starting at his or her host company. Last week, the Climate Corps fellow at PNC also blogged about her experience with this thorough questionnaire on corporate energy efficiency.

It’s a classic EDF win-win project: collectively, this year’s 57 Fellows will provide a snapshot of how Corporate America approaches energy efficiency, while highlighting common hurdles. At the same time, each of us gets a roadmap for orienting at our host companies so we can start asking the right questions from day one:

  • Does the company have an energy efficiency manager? If so, at what level, with what kind of decision-making power? If not, which departments are involved in energy efficiency, and how are people incentivized to take initiative?
  • What’s an acceptable payback period, and what kind of projects qualify?

Within an hour of sitting down with our supervisor with this document, we have contact info written next to every topic area, an informal organizational chart of who influences energy efficiency decisions, and a good understanding of how efficiency projects get financed. (We’ve scrawled plenty of question marks on there too, but done is better than perfect.)

Later that afternoon, we finally get a moment to work at our new desks. But not for long: one of us checks the computers’ energy settings, which default to “maximum performance” instead of “power saver.” And these big LCD monitors seem a lot brighter than they need to be…

Flashback to the EDF Climate Corps training the week before, where we learned how just changing the settings on computers and monitors can cut energy consumption by 20-40%. Multiply that across several buildings’ worth of desks—especially with Facebook’s people-dense, no-cubicles layout—and the impact on the utility bill adds up fast. This could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings, and that’s not even counting what we’d save from lightening the cooling load on the HVAC system, or any incentives that the utility might offer for reducing electricity demand. The best part? It wouldn’t cost a penny in capital expenditures.

I make a beeline for the IT help desk, and ten minutes later I have an appointment with the head of Deployment to discuss PC power management. This is par for the course, we’ve discovered: all the people we’ve met at Facebook are amazingly accessible, open to new ideas, and often have plenty of energy-saving ideas of their own. We’ve got an incredible opportunity to make an impact here, and that also means the bar is set high. On my way back to my desk, I pass another sign: EVERY DAY FEELS LIKE A WEEK. Bring it on.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies 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.