In the scorching summer of 2010, while American hopes for mild weather and reduced electric bills turned to dust, 51 MBA students discovered that they could turn everyday items into gold. As a part of EDF Climate Corps, these trained business students spent their summer working in leading corporations across the country to accelerate energy efficiency investments. The results of the projects recommended during this summer’s program prove that these students have somewhat of a Midas touch and the power to bring dollar signs to any CFO’s eyes:
- $350 million in potential net operational cost savings over the project lifetimes
- Potential reductions in energy use of 678 million kilowatt hours per year — enough to power 60,000 homes
- Opportunities to avoid over 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year — equivalent to taking more than 67,000 SUVs off the road.
While these numbers truly exemplify the overall power of the EDF Climate Corps program, the real nuggets of gold lie in the stories of how each particular fellow hit the jackpot. For organizations looking to cut electricity costs or individuals looking to reduce their carbon footprint, these stories will serve as lessons and truly be the gifts that keep on giving. To take advantage of this goldmine of knowledge, follow the links below to each fellow’s narrative blog.
Fellows searched high and low – climbing up on roofs and crouching down to examine PCs .
- Julia Li at Procter & Gamble climbed onto the roof of the Pringles plant in Tennessee to find a hot, black surface where she considered frying an egg. Instead, she recommended a roof coating that would contribute to the approximate 18 million kWh of electricity reductions she identified.
- Megan Rast at eBay examined computers and recommended PC power management software that could contribute to her overall identified cost savings of more than $1.5 million.
Many fellows made discoveries by looking up…at light bulbs.
- Sarah Will at REI cannot stop looking up! She identified $900,000 in annual savings for REI, partly because of her self-proclaimed “obsession with light bulbs.”
- Nick Fassler at HCA Healthcare found ways to reduce energy use from lighting by up to 30%, which if rolled out across HCA’s hospitals could save the company $7.8 million in annual electricity costs.
- Marty Griffith at New Jersey Natural Gas planned a sneaky middle-of-the-night trip into his office building to find a portion of lights unnecessarily left on all night. He recommended occupancy sensors that would result in thousands of dollars in savings.
Some fellows’ findings were born from the heat of the summer itself and attempts to avoid heart-stopping electric bills by managing HVAC systems.
- Ryan Mallett at Verizon analyzed a thermal storage system to shift production of chilled water into the night time hours when energy is less expensive. This could potentially save up to 1.6 million kWh and $420,000.
- Stuart DeCew at RBS/Citizens Financial Group helped conduct free energy efficiency audits at multiple bank branches. He identified a number of programs offered by utilities to provide these free services around New York and Connecticut.
- Jonathan "J." Stone at News Corp. – Dow Jones experimented with temperature changes in 1 degree increments to find a setting that would stimulate productivity while reducing energy bills.
Others didn’t find savings in material things but, instead, in recommending energy-efficient strategies.
- Yih-Wei Chien at J.C. Penny helped design a strategic initiative to incentivize and motivate approximately 5,500 corporate employees to think, act, and behave with energy conservation at the forefront of their attentions.
- Chris Gassman at Compass Group helped develop strategic responses to client carbon requests – asking “How do we grow our business?” and “How do we increase profit via revenue?”
- Rich Tesler at SunGard helped make the business case for “green leasing,” proving that it could increase profitability, reduce liability and enhance brand.
Meanwhile, some fellows got lucky by simply asking the right questions.
- Jen Snook at AT&T asked “why?” She couldn’t understand why the lights in given spaces were left on roughly half the time while the spaces were occupied less than ten percent of the time. After careful questioning, she helped AT&T realize that installing occupancy sensors could represent an 80% savings in electricity use across more than 100 million square feet of space.
- Nirupam Khanna at Alcatel-Lucent asked “where?” After repeatedly getting lost and asking directions back to his cubicle, he stumbled upon windows letting in excessive solar heat and causing the HVAC system to work overtime. He recommended Alcatel-Lucent install solar window films that can reject up to 60% of solar heat coming through windows in summer and help retain it in the winter.
- Graham Brown at JBG Companies asked “who?” He wanted to know who would be “responsible for connecting the dots between energy use, operating costs and potential savings” after he left. So he recommended a new permanent position for the company, an energy officer.
One fellow peered through physical wreckage to find golden opportunities.
- Rob Powell at Gaylord Entertainment was able to make real-time energy recommendations as the company rebuilt its Opreyland resort, which had suffered severe damage during the devastating floods that engulfed much of Middle Tennessee this year.
These stories are just a drop in my proverbial bucket filled with gold. To really take advantage of the lessons learned and opportunities identified by these fellows, check out the entire compilation of blogs from this summer. Need to see it to believe it? View a slideshow of these fellows in action at their companies.