Category Archives: EDF Climate Corps

Energy Efficiency Investments – The Reality Behind The ‘Job Killing’ Sound Bite

In letters to the President delivered yesterday, business groups as diverse as the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (representing major manufacturing sectors such as cement, paper, chemicals and steel), the Ohio Business Council for a Clean Economy, Ingersoll Rand and Recycled Energy Development all agree and are asking for the same  thing: EPA should make energy efficiency front and center as it adopts regulations to set greenhouse gas standards for power plants under the Clean Air Act

Given the existence of many positive return-on-investment energy efficiency options, including energy efficiency as a compliance strategy, is a no-brainer. In fact, McKinsey & Company's Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy shows the U.S. industrial sector alone can reduce annual energy consumption 18 percent by 2020 and save more than $442 billion in energy costs by investing in energy-efficiency opportunities that quickly pay for themselves (investments that have a positive NPV, or net present value). In the process, they also reduce greenhouse gases, which is what EPA wants. 

But energy efficiency goes beyond a cheap compliance strategy.  It pays returns in perpetuity:  Imagine if several years down the road when these investments have paid for themselves, this $442 billion savings is made available for investments in U.S. manufacturing. The job creation potential then takes off.  At conservative rates of four jobs per million dollars invested, that would create an estimated 1.75 million jobs.  

Typically, facilities can find 20-30 percent in energy efficiency opportunities that pay for themselves in less than two years. For example, EDF recently helped the IUE-CWA union conduct a three day “Treasure Hunt” to search for energy-saving opportunities at the Cobasys advanced battery manufacturing plant in Springboro, Ohio. Even at this state-of-the-art facility built in 2003, the team identified savings that would cut the plant’s energy bill by 18.5 percent and emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon) by 19 percent.

It’s hard to see how a regulation that asks facilities to implement these savings would “kill jobs” when the investments pay  back in less than two years, and provide the company with benefits from  cost savings in perpetuity.          

Once again, a careful look at how companies can comply with EPA regulations shows the “jobs killing” rhetoric to be simply scaremongering. Energy efficiency investments create 8.9 to 11.9 jobs for every $1 million in spending. (Spending on fossil fuels, by contrast, generates 3.7 jobs (oil and gas) to 4.9 (coal) jobs per $1 million in spending.)  So, compliance isn’t a burden and the path forward is job intensive. 

It’s a nice added benefit that energy efficiency jobs can be found across the U.S. and across industry sectors.  For example, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America asked EPA to place special emphasis on industrial cogeneration, an energy efficiency solution also known as ‘combined heat and power’ or ‘waste heat recovery’. A value chain assessment of this solution by Duke University shows that it will increase demand for large equipment such as generators and turbines, all made in the U.S., and lots of new steel piping, good news for the steelworkers.

In sum, a dollar spent on energy efficiency provides triple returns: industrial facilities and building owners quickly see their investments generating annual cost savings (just 2-3 years out), power plants don’t need to build new capacity and raise rates to pay for it, and all the firms across the U.S. that supply energy efficiency solutions see new customers.  And, in the process, CEOs can also check off that “compliance with EPA regulation” box because greenhouse gas emissions will drop significantly.  “Job killing EPA regulations” is a great sound-bite but the experience of firms in the real-world doesn’t support the rhetoric.

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Envision Charlotte is Making the Queen City a Green City

Charlotte is North Carolina’s largest city, nicknamed the “Queen City” after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen-consort of King George III (okay, I’ll admit that I had to look that up).  I grew up nearby and over the years, I’ve watched in awe as the city has grown both upward, with high-rises housing the corporate headquarters of Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, and outward, as the suburbs expand to accommodate the ever-growing population. 

Today, efforts are underway to make the Queen City a green city, as part of a major sustainability initiative announced last year.  Envision Charlotte was launched in September 2010 as part of the Clinton Global Initiative; partners include Duke Energy, Charlotte Center City Partners, the City of Charlotte, and many other corporate citizens.  This unique public-private partnership comprises volunteers from 28 different organizations, including EDF, that have come together to make Charlotte the most sustainable urban core in the nation.  The program focuses on four pillars to achieve this goal:

  1. energy efficiency,
  2. air quality,
  3. water reduction, and
  4. waste reduction. 

Last week, my colleague Michael Regan and I attended a public event in Uptown Charlotte to celebrate the installation of interactive displays, provided by Cisco, in almost 70 buildings.  These displays show how much energy is being consumed at any given moment in the city’s center, and provide tips on how to reduce that load.  The idea is to provide information to building workers and visitors on what they as individuals and collectively can do to use energy more wisely, and at no cost. 

It’s estimated that simple behavior changes, like turning off lights and computer monitors when not in use, can reduce 5% of the energy being used in the participating buildings. 

That’s impressive, but the overall energy goal for Envision Charlotte is more ambitious: to reduce energy by 20% in five years.  And that will require investments in building energy management systems, smart grid technologies and aggressive education efforts.  Making these investments will ultimately allow companies to save money by reducing what they spend on energy. 

And making these energy-saving improvements will save money for taxpayers too, since several local government buildings are participating in Envision Charlotte. 

EDF has contributed to this effort, by providing two Climate Corps fellows to Mecklenburg County (where Charlotte is located) this summer to identify low- and no-cost energy savings in county-owned buildings.  In reviewing three buildings, they found measures that could save the county more than $500,000 in five years. Imagine the impact of identifying and implementing similar energy efficiency measures in all city and county owned buildings! 

EDF will continue working with Envision Charlotte to make the energy savings goal a reality.  I have served for the past year on the Envision Charlotte steering committee, which is now a board of directors for the newly created non-profit entity.  And we will document the actions taken so that they can be replicated in other communities around the country.  Stay tuned!

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Cooling From The Outside In: AT&T And EDF Climate Corps Uncover Energy Savings Of Up To 50 Percent

By Mike McCarthy, 2011 EDF Climate Corps fellow at AT&T, MBA Candidate at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and John Schinter, Executive Director of Energy at AT&T.  This commentary was originally posted on the EDF Business Blog

I’ve always been interested in how energy efficiency projects can reduce operational costs and environmental impact. Not only are they a win-win for sustainability but I’d also like to focus my career on them when I graduate from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business next year. I was excited to learn that my EDF Climate Corps fellowship would be working with AT&T’s Corporate Real Estate (CRE) division this summer. I knew that AT&T was working aggressively to increase energy efficiency and had a goal for 2011 to reduce company electricity consumption relative to network data growth by 17 percent over 2010. I also knew that AT&T’s 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow helped the company identify opportunities to cut lighting energy use by 80% at its 250 largest central offices, a project that is currently underway in many of these locations. I looked forward to contributing to AT&T’s progress on energy efficiency. My project to evaluate the energy savings from optimizing the use of free-air cooling—as opposed to mechanical cooling systems—uncovered real and scalable results. Recently I sat down with my boss for the summer, John Schinter, AT&T executive director of energy, to chat about our key findings.

John: Mike, with your help, we accomplished a lot in the past three months of your EDF Climate Corps fellowship. The hard work certainly has paid off. What energy efficiency opportunities did you discover this summer?

Mike: It turns out that about a quarter of AT&T’s largest heat producing buildings are located in cool climates. Furthermore, their utility bills show a historic pattern that suggests that they can use more outside air for cooling instead of using air cooled by energy-consuming chiller units. It was an important first step to identify 250 buildings that could benefit from optimizing economizer mode, or free-air cooling.

John: Participant buy-in is fundamental to any successful program. Talk a little about how you helped ensure that the property managers were involved.

Mike: You’re right. Buy-in is critical here. Early in the process, we sent a quick email survey out to the property managers of all the buildings to determine how well they thought they were using free-air cooling. It was important to show that we were working with the property managers to secure funding for their buildings. These managers execute the day-to-day components of energy management so it was important to hear their voices from the outset of the project. It was amazing to watch as the responses came in. The property managers and building engineers have a lot of great ideas for energy savings projects. We just needed to help them build the business case for these investments.

John: The surveys made me confident that our data analysis technique was on to something big. Describe what you found.

Mike: Based on the responses to the surveys, AT&T could reduce its carbon footprint by over 50,000 metric tons of CO2/year by using this technology. That is equivalent to almost 9,000 cars removed from the road each year, according to the EPA greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator.

John: That’s great that the project uncovered a tangible way to help minimize environmental impact. But you also thought about the financial implications to AT&T. What were the highlights?

Mike: Yes. Looking at our database of existing energy audits to estimate costs at a high level, we found that on average, the free-air cooling building retrofit projects pay back in around two years. We’ve identified real potential savings in reducing the electricity used for cooling our buildings.

John: Your plan to identify energy savings projects in AT&T’s buildings using trends in utility bills and weather data really worked. In ten weeks, you helped us accomplish what would have taken years using site visits and third party energy audits. From an outside perspective, what do you think were the keys to success?

Mike: Sometimes making a breakthrough in energy efficiency requires a creative approach that combines thinking from several disciplines. We couldn’t have gotten to these results without using Six Sigma data analysis, statistics, geography, and engineering.

John: So the project found economic and environmental benefits of optimizing AT&T’s use of free-air cooling. What’s your recommendation on the future of free-air cooling at AT&T?

Mike: I designed the project with an ongoing monitoring mechanism that will be extremely useful to AT&T down the road. We can use the method of analyzing utility bill trends in the future to “flag” buildings in the system that could benefit from an upgrade. Because this project is scalable, the business case is that much stronger.

See a video case study on this free air-cooling project here and check out the video case study on AT&T’s lighting project mentioned above here.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities 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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Reasons To Be Cheerful: EDF Climate Corps Finds $650 Million In Energy Savings

By: Victoria Mills, Managing Director of Corporate Partnerships for EDF, and Michael Regan, Director of Energy Efficiency, EDF

Recent headlines paint a gloomy picture of our economy, with its looming deficits and stubborn unemployment rate. And let’s not forget the steady stream of evidence that climate change is already happening.  But today, a ray of sunshine breaks through these cloudy skies:  the news that companies, cities and universities  have found ways to save millions of dollars while avoiding hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon pollution.  How did they do it?  EDF Climate Corps.

Today, EDF announced that this summer’s class of Climate Corps fellows uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems that can:

  • Cut 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity use and 27 million therms of natural gas annually, equivalent to the annual energy use of 38,000 homes;
  • Avoid 440,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the annual emissions of 87,000 passenger vehicles; and
  • Save $650 million in net operational costs over the project lifetimes.

Thanks to the work of our EDF Climate Corps fellows, organizations as diverse as McDonald’s, Target, the New York City Housing Authority, and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical University all found significant cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions through energy efficiency.  This is indeed cause for celebration.

But imagine how good the news would be if everyone reaped the full benefits of energy efficiency.  The opportunity is enormous:  McKinsey & Co. estimate that by 2020, the U.S. could reduce its energy consumption by 23 percent through energy efficiency measures, cutting CO2 emissions by over a gigaton and saving over a trillion dollars.

EDF created Climate Corps to cut carbon pollution by overcoming the barriers that prevent organizations from investing in energy efficiency.  Now in its fourth year, EDF Climate Corps has grown from 7 fellows in 2008 to 96 in 2011, and expanded to a nationwide program that spans corporate, academic and government sectors.  For us at EDF, the best news of all is our implementation rate:  to date, projects accounting for 86 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008-2010 EDF Climate Corps fellows are complete or underway.

We’d love to bring some of this good news to your organization.  Visit edfclimatecorps.org to learn how to hire an EDF Climate Corps fellow in 2012, or email us at info@edfclimatecorps.org.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities 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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Just What The Doctor Ordered: Prescription For Green Savings

By: Martin Hill, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia; MPA Candidate 2012 at Clark Atlanta University

Morehouse School Of Medicine (MSM) continues to strive to be a world-class leader amongst medical institutions regarding “energy efficiency”. It is a small tucked-away medical institution in Atlanta, Georgia that serves the community in many capacities.  MSM continues to strive for a healthier world whether it is through personal care or environmental health.

MSM is no stranger to energy efficiency; Director of Facilities, Mr. Alonzo Jones, conducted an Energy and Water Conservation Audit identifying key energy saving projects to implement once funding becomes available. The Doctor’s prescription, if implemented, will save energy and money as well as reduce the institution’s carbon footprint by improving air quality through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Everyone on the facilities staff has been a doctor in their own way, which is evident in their high level of dedication displayed regarding energy efficiency projects from plumbing to the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) system here at MSM. Furthermore, as I worked tirelessly with the Facilities Management Team, we discovered a cure to off-setting a few capital projects with rebates offered via Georgia Power, including incentives for lighting upgrades and energy efficient HVAC systems.

Morehouse School of Medicine has demonstrated the institution’s strong commitment to energy efficiency and serves as an example of environmental stewardship among other institutions in the medical field.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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Catalyzing Change: Sustainability In A Southern Town – Part 2

By Kealy Devoy, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at the Town of Cary, NC; MEM Candidate at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment

If there’s one thing I’ve learned while working in the environmental arena, it is that change does not happen in a vacuum. We need to actively involve as many people in the organization as possible. Generating buy-in for workplace sustainability can be challenging, but with a few key strategies, we can start winning people over.

In my last post, I outlined seven core steps to catalyzing change within an organization, and talked about how the Town of Cary has implemented the first step. Those seven steps are:

  1. Make it official.
  2. Identify the changers.
  3. Change is not binary.
  4. Operate in parallel.
  5. The Rule of 7.
  6. Market internally and externally.
  7. Celebrate successes.

Steps two through four are about how to initiate change. Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks:

#2: Identify The Changers

The changers are the people who are excited about sustainability. They have ideas, enthusiasm, and momentum. If the organization has many departments, finding changers in various parts of the organization will promote sustainability in each department. Through these changers, you can develop relationships with different individuals and departments on their terms. The initial focus should be on why sustainability is important, and what the benefits of pursuing it are.

One project I am working on focuses on energy efficiency improvements for the Town’s fire stations. The Fire Chief gave me a list of changers from each of the seven Cary Fire Stations who were chosen based on an interest in energy and environmental issues. Having someone at each station who is excited by sustainability has been exceedingly helpful in building buy-in.

#3: Change Is Not Binary

Sustainability is not simply green or not. There are many facets of sustainability, all of which are steps in the right direction. It is important to tackle only as many projects as your organization can handle. Start small, minimize risk, and pick the low-hanging fruit. You don’t need to be generating all of your power from solar panels by tomorrow in order to be sustainable.

Energy efficiency is a great way to get started. Many projects involve low-to-no cost, such as turning down temperatures on hot water heaters and enforcing thermostat temperature set points. Other projects have short payback periods, like upgrading exit signs to LEDs. Still more projects, like preventative maintenance of HVAC systems, have co-benefits including improved occupant comfort and better indoor air quality.

#4: Operate in Parallel

Because the route to a sustainable organization is ongoing and ever-evolving, we should use many simultaneous tools to catalyze change. These include comprehensive strategic plans, various investment structures, capital projects, maintenance programs, and more.

One important consideration here is the impact of these projects on the facilities and maintenance staff. The Town chooses to operate in parallel not only in pursuing projects, but also with how to implement these projects so that their facilities team does not get overwhelmed. Namely, they choose their in-house projects wisely, and hire contractors for the rest.

These three steps are an important part of initiating change within an organization. The next three steps are all about how to communicate this change effectively and efficiently. Check back soon for more on the remaining three steps!

This post reflects the personal opinions of Kealy Devoy, and does not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of the Town of Cary.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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Just Do It: Sometimes Jumping In With Both Feet Is The Best Choice To Make

By Jen Weiss, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Shaw University, MEM Candidate, Nicolas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC

A few weeks ago, I found myself peering over the edge of a forty-two foot platform willing myself to take the leap – to tackle the Mega Jump.  Okay, maybe peering is not the right word.  I was gripping the side of the platform, looking out over the horizon, and wondering how I had ever gotten convinced to do this given my severe fear of heights.  But, there I was.  I decided to stop thinking about it.  Better to trust that it was all going to work out fine than analyze every detail.  I closed my eyes, released my grip, and jumped …

The next moment, I was on the ground.  I checked for breaks or cuts – nothing.  The only thing I felt was exhilaration – a feeling of success and accomplishment.  I had done it. And I had survived.

I get a similar sense of nervous anticipation with energy efficiency.  What’s that?  You don’t follow my leap?  Consider this …

I have just wrapped up my EDF Climate Corps Fellowship at Shaw University in downtown Raleigh.  My EDF partner, Eliza, and I have made recommendations that could save the university over $125,000 a year in annual energy savings.  And, some of these recommendations come at absolutely no cost:

  • Power management (sleep mode) for PCs and copiers
  • Summer setback temperatures for some of the dorms
  • Upgrading exit signs to LED versions
  • Upgrading the residence hall’s laundry services to more energy efficient washing machines
  • Consolidation of office equipment and mini-fridges

A few other recommendations have a small price of admission, but with Progress Energy rebates and very short payback periods, they can be done quickly and savings can be seen within six months:

  • Install vending misers on all vending machines
  • Upgrade lighting to more efficient T-8s
  • Install programmable thermostats (my personal favorite – the savings here are huge!)

Shaw is now standing on the edge of the platform waiting to jump.  The eager faces in the audience as Eliza and I presented these recommendations tell me that they have the desire and commitment to make the changes and lead Shaw into sustainability.  And they certainly have the experience and knowledge to get it done.  The next step is up to them. 

At this point, Shaw needs to take a leap of faith. They need to jump off the platform and feel the exhilaration that comes from saving the planet (and saving money).  There is absolutely nothing to lose and a tremendous amount to gain. My advice? 

Just Do It!

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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Fulfilling The Spelman Legacy: A Choice To Change The World

By: Melissa Wise, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Spelman College; MBA candidate at Keller Graduate School of Management

Here I am back on Spelman’s campus.  It’s been eight years since the first time I walked through their gates as a student.  I never thought that I’d be back here so soon after graduation, living a dream that I once had out of desperation as a “freshwoman” trying to survive the non-air-conditioned dorms.  I had a vision of one day returning to the Spelman community as an Alumna and providing at least one dorm with the air-conditioning that it deserved.  It seemed to be a “rite of passage” at Spelman for first-year students to live in non-air-conditioned buildings. Those unbearable long summer seasons in “Hot-lanta” will never be forgotten.  So, I vowed that when I became a well-established businesswoman, it would be my gift to the school.  Being a fellow with EDF may make that dream come true a little sooner than planned.

 Here’s what I’ve learned upon my return:

  • The Suites, Spelman’s newest dormitory, received a silver-level certification from LEED.  This makes it the first of its kind for a residence hall on the campus of a historically Black university.
  • My office equipment inventory has shown that Spelman uses a very high percentage of Energy Star products including: copiers, fax machines, computers, and monitors. Spelman also has a high percentage of Energy Star vending and snack machines.
  • Lighting upgrades are well under way from T12 to T8 bulbs, along with many other energy efficient bulb choices.

 And the list just goes on at this pioneering institute.  Often, I find myself coming across an idea for a possible improvement, just to find out that it has already been considered or underway in future plans.  Spelman seems to have it all under control, so I’ll just have to keep on digging!  It is definitely hard to find fault behind these gates.

 Interesting quotes I frequently hear:

  • “It’s my choice, and I choose to change the world!” A line from Spelman’s theme song sung by our Glee Club.  I hear this song or see this phrase often around campus and in articles on the school website.
  • “Ahh, touché!” Friendly debates involving opposing views of equipment and upgrades.  For example, the campus mechanical “Mr. Fix –it” may feel that a heating/cooling unit needs to be replaced due to its extensive life cycle, while the Automatic Control System guru will say that it’s working just fine. Who is right?
  • “Hey, who turned out the lights?” The Director of Facilities Management and Services (my supervisor) will randomly make trips to areas around campus during peak demand hours and turn off lights in unoccupied areas.

Choosing to change the world may seem like a difficult task for such a small school, but Spelman is no stranger to leadership and service. Be it students, alumnae, faculty or staff, Spelman is dedicated to serving its community and making choices that will impact many generations to come.  I am proud to join the continuous, precious legacy of Spelman’s story that dates back to 1881. Needless to say, this opportunity is a dream come true.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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"Enter To Learn. Depart To Serve"

By Michelle Williams, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Winston-Salem State University, MBA, Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem, NC

My fellowship brought me to the illustrious institution of Winston-Salem State University (WSSU). A two time graduate of WSSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, and a Master of Business Administration degree, I found it an honor to be assigned to my alma mater. The University’s motto, “Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve,” is very wise and has a great meaning. Serve (v.), means to be in service of, pay homage, work actively, provide, and help. In other words, to serve could be understood to be a selfless act, thinking not only of yourself but also the betterment/well-being of others. My assignment for the summer was just that.

Efforts to become environmentally aware and practice energy conservation, preservation, and sustainability measures require selfless behavioral acts that positively affect the environment. Individuals consider how they can inspire others to be aware so that generations to come have a healthy environment in which to live. This made me realize that the most important contributor to the success of WSSU’s environmental consciousness would be behavioral change. Of the several projects we recommend, the one most important to me was increasing institutional engagement and educating the faculty/staff and students in hopes to jeer a successful energy conservation movement.

I sought to get the institution excited about energy conservation. Often people fail to participate due to lack of knowledge. Simply informing people about the amount of energy wasted from one light left on and the impact it can cause could result in changes in one’s behavior.  Inform, intrigue, engage became the concept behind getting the University involved. Steps to WSSU’s sustainable future:

  • A constitution to start “Rams Go Green,” an environmental club which is the key aspect to student engagement.
    • Mission: To create awareness of environmental issues such as conservation, pollution, and preservation. The organization plans to advance the understanding of responsible environmental behaviors by informing the student body, faculty/staff, and the community on ways to improve our environment.
  • An outline for “Rams Do it in the Dark,” WSSU’s first environmental dorm war campaign.
  • Influencing participation in Student Organizational Day to gain awareness of the environmental club.
  • Catchy flyers that would grab students, faculty, and staff attention and would teach them important ways to be a part of the movement.
  • “Rams Go Green” Flyer for new students and faculty that includes tips on ways to conserve, preserve, and sustain.
  • “Set it and Forget it” thermostat policy. The proper thermostat settings can greatly reduce energy consumed.

I entered this journey with minimal knowledge, learning all that I now know along the way. I will depart with optimal energy conservation tactics and hopes that I served my institution proudly.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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The Big Green Apple

By Amy Kochanowsky, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Sector Fellow at New York City Housing Authority, MPP candidate at Duke University, Durham, NC

Things are always changing in New York City – whether it’s the former rail line turned urban greenspace, the construction of a new World Trade Center, or the recently  added calorie counts on menus. New York has always been a city ahead of the curve, and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is no exception. NYCHA has already done highly innovative work when it comes to energy efficiency, and I’m very fortunate to work with an organization that embraces environmental sustainability objectives.

As one of NYCHA’s Energy Department interns this summer, I’ve seen examples of this innovative work first hand in my visits to housing developments. As I stood in the stifling heat of a NYCHA boiler room, the staff explained the ins and outs of the boiler system – how the boiler creates the steam that delivers heat to residents in winter. They pointed out the new instantaneous hot water heaters, which are devices that reduce energy usage by heating water only as needed instead of wasting energy by storing hot water. It’s great to see all of this equipment up close, and talk to the people who really understand how to operate these systems. Being on the ground gave me an appreciation for the complexity of these heating systems.

At first, seeing this new equipment made it seem as though NYCHA had already done everything possible to reduce its energy use. Working with the other intern, we were given a very intuitive task – our charge for the summer was to identify additional opportunities for energy efficiency and conservation. We started this task with the basics – analyzing current energy consumption and costs. From there we got a sense of how NYCHA uses its energy and where we had the opportunity to make an impact. Reflecting on the information we learned during EDF’s week-long fellowship training, we realized that replacing existing exit signs with more energy efficient LED exit signs would be a good place to start. Simply by replacing exit signs, we enabled NYCHA to save more than $15,000 per year in electricity costs.

Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the enormity of NYCHA. As the nation’s second largest landlord (after the Army), NYCHA provides affordable housing for nearly half a million New Yorkers. The size of NYCHA means that my fellow intern and I have the ability and responsibility to make a huge impact. NYCHA pays the utility bills for residents at its developments, thus reducing energy use is good not only for the climate, but for their budget as well.

I hope our efforts and recommendations help NYCHA to achieve its energy and climate goals. I also hope NYCHA can serve as an example for other public housing authorities across the country on how to reduce energy use and create a more sustainable community.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship.  The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities.  Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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