October 12, 2010
Both companies and MBA students are benefitting from a new sustainability program called the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps.
According to a press release, the summer internship program is a partnership between the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Net Impact. Specifically-trained MBA students, known as Climate Corps fellow, are placed at leading companies--such as Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald's Pepsi, Target, Verizon and Xerox--to identify potential energy efficiency improvements. This year, Climate Corps fellows came from various top-ranked business schools, including the University of Chicago, University of California at Berkeley and New York University. As Bloomberg Businessweek put it, the program allows students to become "energy detectives" and examine their employer's lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems. This past summer, 51 students and 47 companies participated in the program and identified $350 million in potential net operational savings.
EDF Climate Corps has been around for only three years now, but has already indentified $439 million in net operating savings. Ryan Mallett, a second year MBA student at Penn State Smeal College of Business, for example, indentified projects at Verizon that could save the company $9.16 million and avoid more than 8,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, reported Penn State Live. Another MBA student, Rama Murugan, worked on sustainability initiatives that should save CA Technologies $1.24 million annually. Murugan also helped the company on various low-cost and no-cost lighting projects that could save $150,000 a year.
Because most companies do not have the time or resources to identify energy saving opportunities, many have found that Climate Corps fellows have been a tremendous value. "We are saving tens of millions of kilowatt hours per year of energy from previous projects identified by our first Climate Corps fellow... Our 2010 fellow uncovered even more opportunities for saving energy in our data centers and building systems," said Christina Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo! in the press release.
However, companies are not the only ones who benefit, pointed out EDF Managing Director Victoria Mills. "We're the only internship program I'm aware of where, in just 10 weeks, an MBA student can get on-the-ground experience working across the company and deliver them a customized energy efficiency investment plan for the company," she explained to Bloomberg Businessweek. "This is not lofty, in-the-clouds sustainability. This is bottom-line sustainability, and this kind of experience translates into real resume-enhancing skills."
What may be even more important is that companies are actually implementing fellows' energy-efficiency recommendations. According to Mills, projects accounting for 84 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008 and 2009 fellows are either complete or in process.
Since its inception in 2008, EDF Climate Corps has grown exponentially. Mills told Bloomberg Businessweek that she expects the program to continue growing as more and more companies realize the importance of sustainability.
Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff
"EDF Climate Corps Finds $350 Million in energy Savings," edf.org, September 13, 2010
"MBA 'Energy Detectives' Help Companies Cut Cost," businessweek.com, October 11, 2010, Alison Damast
"MBA students find $13.3 million in energy savings during fellowships," live.psu.edu, September 21, 2010