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.

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EDF Climate Corps Fellow Gears Up for a Summer at REI

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


Route planned? Check. Flights booked? Check. New climbing gear purchased? Needed!

In a few days, I will be sitting on a glacier in the shadows of Denali surrounded by breathtaking granite spires. The days are getting long, the rock dry, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in long alpine climbs smothered by the Alaskan wilderness. But first, I need to head to REI to purchase a new rope.

Speaking of REI, upon return from my trip, I will be working at REI Headquarters near Seattle as an EDF Climate Corps fellow this summer. I recently returned from the EDF Climate Corps training, where all 57 fellows gathered at MIT’s Sloan School of Management for intensive energy efficiency training. We brushed up on our energy units, dug into the nitty gritty of lighting efficiency and toured Sloan’s soon-to-be LEED certified facility. The following are three of my big takeaways from the event:

  • Catalyzing successful energy efficiency initiatives requires more than just being technically savvy. Not only did EDF’s training cover the technical aspects involved in corporate energy efficiency, but we also discussed keys to breaking down barriers to allow for long-term, systemic organizational change, strategies for successful adoption and best practices for presenting recommendations identified by previous fellows.
  • I had no idea there was so much to know about lighting! It’s not just about a simple light bulb and fixture. We discussed the intricacies of lamps vs. luminaires, ballasts, and the number of luminaires per ballast. I’m sure the chapter on lighting in the EDF Climate Corps Handbook will prove to be quite useful this summer.

The training got me charged about the summer of work ahead of me. I am particularly enthused to work for REI, a company whose customers really value energy efficiency efforts behind the products they purchase. My first day there is right around the corner, but in the meantime, I am off to Alaska!

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.

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Might as Well Face it, She’s Addicted to Bulbs

By Sarah Will, 2010 Climate Corps Fellow at REI, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Member of Net Impact

I was at the airport the other day, staring at the ceiling.  “I’m pretty sure those are T-8 fluorescent bulbs, which is great,” I thought out loud.  “But this is an outdoor walkway and it’s the middle of the day.  Why are the lights on?  This could use a timer switch, or some day-lighting. With 100 bulbs off for eight hours a day, how much could you save?  Let’s see….”  I rambled on: “Oh! Those are T-12s over there.  That’s such an easy fix!  Who can I talk to about switching those out?” My husband rolled his eyes – the poor guy has had to put up with my infatuation with light bulbs all summer.

Until I joined the EDF Climate Corps program this summer to work with REI, I  I only occasionally looked at light bulbs  — usually  residential  bulbs, making sure that my family used CFL’s versus energy-hogging incandescents.  But after the EDF Climate Corps training sessions in San Francisco, I can’t stop looking up at commercial lighting.

The Quick & Obvious Savings

During this summer’s training, we were taught to first examine the quick and obvious available savings for our companies.  In total, I’ve identified the potential for REI to save over 6.5 million kWh, equaling over 2,700 metric tons or almost $900,000 per year.  This is through many different strategies (see my blog post on retrocommissioning for one), and lighting controls is a big chunk of the final number. Read more

Time for a Tune Up: ‘Check Engine’ Light on Buildings at REI Call for Quick Wins through Retrocommissioning

By Sarah Will, 2010 Climate Corps Fellow at REI, MBA, Bainbridge Graduate Institute, Member of Net Impact

In a successful business, there is a constant dichotomy between business growth and emissions reduction.  As an EDF Climate Corps fellow, I have come to realize that my host company, REI, struggles with this every day.  With each new store opening comes an energy usage of about 400,000 kWh per year.  The company’s carbon goal for 2011 is to maintain its 2010 emissions levels, despite new store openings and growth projections of 8-10 percent.

How do you decrease energy use while growing as a company?

To assist in achieving these energy goals, my charge for the summer, as an EDF Climate Corps fellow, is to identify as many potential energy efficiency projects for REI as possible.  I will analyze the projects and recommend those with the most financial and environmental potential. Some of the projects on the list include:

  • Control sensors on the conveyor belts in the distribution center
  • Lighting projects
  • A compressor audit and repairs
  • Decreased temperature levels in the data center Read more