By Ellen Shenette, EDF Climate Corps Analyst
It’s no secret that renewable energy is becoming cheaper, and while we’ve seen companies like Google and Microsoft investing in utility-scale renewables, what about mainstream corporate America? Are large corporations jumping on the clean energy bandwagon or are they dragging their feet? As a data analyst at EDF Climate Corps, I turned to the numbers for answers. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look far. An analysis from our recently release report: Scaling Success: Recent Trends in Organizational Energy Management, says it all.
For almost a decade, EDF Climate Corps has been partnering with business to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency through our graduate fellowship program.
As I followed the numbers, a new clean energy trend stood out: over the last 5 years, clean and renewable energy projects have grown five-fold, with 1/3 of our partner organizations working on at least one clean energy project in 2015. Companies have been using their EDF Climate Corps fellows to decipher the complex landscape of technologies, policies, procurement strategies, and financing options for renewable energy. As we tally the results for our 2016 fellowship program, we expect the focus on clean energy to continue to grow, and don’t plan on it stopping anytime soon.
In 2008, EDF launched Climate Corps, an innovative graduate fellowship program committed to jump-starting investment in corporate energy efficiency.
Now, after almost a decade of embedding over 700 fellows inside large organizations across all sectors—public, private and non-profit—we’ve taken a step back to survey the broader landscape.
What did we find? Energy management today looks very different than when we started out. As large organizations have shifted to take on more sophisticated approaches, significant advancements in management strategies have emerged.
And for those of you toiling away on a daily basis in the complicated world of energy management, we’re pleased to offer you a mile-high view of how your efforts fit into a larger picture of progress.
Superheroes are all the rage these days. Whether at the theater or on our TV screens, we are surrounded by stories of powerful men and women working to make the world a better place.
And what would a good superhero be without a thriving metropolis to defend? If you want a great setting for your hero, look no further than New York. Known by a variety of names in the comics (Gotham, etc.), New York is where heroes go to prove themselves and save the day.
But what if I were to tell you that superheroes are not only real, they are being placed in public and private organizations around New York this summer to work towards making our city and state more energy efficient? Read More
Companies today employ a wide array of energy reduction strategies, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the utilization of data management systems. But how can companies simultaneously improve these distinct facets of energy management and ultimately scale them? Increasingly, companies that show excellence in comprehensive, strategic energy management are able to employ both top-down and bottom-up management approaches, and infuse data into all levels of their work. This approach to driving progress has proven successful in many corporate energy management programs and is responsible for an increasing number of gains in the space over the last few years.
When it comes to energy efficiency, companies often take a bottom-up approach to establishing their programs. Despite being a clear win-win for a company’s bottom line and the environment, energy efficiency is fraught with challenges that make implementation at scale challenging. It is highly technical in nature, has dispersed ownership among many stakeholders, often relies on large capital outlays, and is generally considered outside the core business of most companies. Because of these barriers and others, energy managers often have to demonstrate the value of energy efficiency projects through small initiatives before receiving the support necessary to scale up their work. While this approach may be frustrating to energy managers who innately understand the potential of their projects to generate large-scale reductions, time and time again it has proven to be an effective catalyst for increased energy efficiency adoption down the road. Read More
Growing up in eastern North Carolina was a great experience. Wayne County was my home, and I spent many weekends fishing for bass and hunting quail with my father on the family farm in nearby Bladen County. The time outdoors was great for character building, and visiting with relatives, friends, and elders in the community was equally important for understanding my heritage and the challenges my parents overcame.
You see, Bladen County is classified as a “persistent poverty county” by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, meaning the poverty rate has exceeded 20 percent of the population for the last 30 years. More than 25 percent of Bladen residents live in poverty. My family, friends, and elders were no exceptions. Despite the struggles, the personal connection to the land, water, and wildlife nourished and empowered the farming community.
When I joined Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) eight years ago, I seized the opportunity to find inclusive solutions to environmental problems. I started hunting for two different kinds of game: first, diversifying the traditional definition of environmental leadership and second, increasing access to clean, affordable energy for everyone. The two go hand-in-hand. Let me explain. Read More
Buildings use nearly 40 percent of all energy in the U.S. and account for a third of our greenhouse gases. Today, a growing number of commercial real estate leaders are looking for opportunities to upgrade what they’ve already got – rather than starting from scratch – to save money and lessen their environmental impact. These commercial real estate leaders know there is a great deal of potential in starting small, and in focusing on what best serves their bottom line.
Organizations that need a more tailored approach to making their real estate energy-efficient have a myriad of opportunities that are now being pioneered by property owners across the country. Leading companies are applying outside-the-box energy management solutions to buildings constructed before the green-building boom.
Here are two examples of companies that enlisted Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program to accelerate clean energy projects in their facilities and meet their corporate energy goals: Read More