Monthly Archives: July 2011

Top Down Energy Savings: 1 Fellow, 1 Housing Authority, And 400,000 New Yorkers

By: Harrison Thomas, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at the New York City Housing Authority, MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University; MBA candidate at Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

If you work with the Energy Department at the New York City Housing Authority, here is what you’ve got on your hands:

  • Hundreds of heating systems, all different
  • Thousands of buildings, all different
  • Hundreds of thousands of tenants, all different
  • Millions of energy consuming fixtures
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in annual energy costs, and rising

In recent years, the housing authority has undertaken many initiatives to directly conserve energy in the 2,600 buildings that house 400,000 New Yorkers. These energy saving initiatives include investments in energy-efficient lighting, instant hot water heaters, refrigerators, and elevators. These capital investments have clear costs and provide clear benefits, but energy expenditures continue to climb by millions of dollars per year.

The authority has limited resources and relies on management systems to set priorities to serve tenants and conserve energy. Last week, I went on a field trip to see the capital investments and management systems first hand. The immense scale of investment needed to provide thermal comfort and hot water to tenants was immediately apparent. Each boiler room is incredibly large, complex, and requires full-time monitoring by technicians and supervisors. And the authority doesn’t have just a couple of boiler rooms to manage –  it has hundreds that are all different. Read More »

Posted in EDF Climate Corps / Tagged | Comments are closed

Solar Farms And LED Snowflakes In July

By: Erin Evans, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina; MPA candidate at Appalachian State University

It feels like only yesterday when my EDF partner, Daniel Brookshire, and I moved to Cherokee, North Carolina to start our work with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Time has flown by and the experience has been absolutely amazing. As we type up our final reports and begin to see the results of cost savings and energy savings for the Tribe, it is hard to believe we did so much in a short period of time.

Visiting a Solar Farm

Daniel and I visited an $8 million dollar solar farm owned by FLS Energy, a company out of Asheville, NC, that leases land from the Blue Ridge Paper Landfill in Haywood County for only $1 per year. FLS Energy signed a 25-year contract with Progress Energy to sell back the solar energy generated by its farm. A tour of the solar farm, as well as a meeting in the FLS office led to further discussions on how the Tribe can use this renewable energy on its reservation. Photovoltaic arrays on tribal buildings and solar thermal power can help the tribe reach its goal of becoming more sustainable and energy efficient.

Snowflakes in July

A favorite project of ours started one hot July day inside an unair-conditioned warehouse, where Daniel and I counted all of the tiny bulbs inside the snowflake decorations that hang from light poles in the winter. Each of the 79 large snowflakes contains 90 little glass bulbs. In addition to saving energy, stepping on and shattering several of the fragile 7W bulbs gave more reason to switch to 1W durable plastic LED bulbs, each of which lasts 60,000 hours. Soon these snowflakes will glow even brighter with LED illumination. The best present is the energy reduction of over 60,000W and energy cost savings of $6,000. Happy holidays in Cherokee.

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.

Posted in EDF Climate Corps / Tagged | Comments are closed

Catalyzing Change: Sustainability In A Southern Town

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

This summer, I am working with the Town of Cary in North Carolina to identify energy efficiency improvements throughout its organization. My focus is on two projects: fire and emergency services sustainability, and energy planning. Cary’s commitment to saving energy deserves applause.

My goal is to see tangible energy efficiency improvements. Some of these changes are easily measurable: energy use reductions, dollars saved, and greenhouse gas emissions avoided. Others will be tougher to track, such as determining the number of Cary employees who are aware of sustainability initiatives.

Catalyzing change takes time, certainly more than 10 short weeks. However despite this limited time period that I have, there are many strategies that can be used to point organizations in the right direction. During the Climate Corps Public Sector training, Paula Thomas, the Sustainability Director for the City of Raleigh, gave the fellows a list of ways to become agents of change in the municipalities, churches, and universities that we are working with. Her seven core steps to catalyzing change 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. Read More »
Posted in EDF Climate Corps / Comments are closed

Get Your Green On!

By: Jen Weiss, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina; MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University


Timing, they say, is everything.  And timing combined with knowledgeable and motivated people who want to make a difference?  That, my friends, is just plain ole’ lucky.

My EDF partner Eliza and I have been working at Shaw University, and so far we have found some terrific no-cost and low-cost projects with great payback periods and measurable energy savings. We are beginning to feel that our recommendations are ready to be wrapped up in a pretty green bow.  But, wait … what is this that we have just stumbled across?

An Unexpected and Untapped Treasure

Photo courtesy of Jen WeissThanks to a change in office space midway through our fellowship, we had a chance encounter with two of the most determined women we have ever met.  Please let me introduce you to Ms. Agnes Baxter and Ms. Juanda Holley, the energetic forces behind Shaw University’s newly formed Green Team.  Stand back staff and students of Shaw University, you are about to be hit by another tornado – A bright GREEN tornado!

It all started innocently enough – a casual chat with an office mate about what we were working on at Shaw.  Our discussion about upgrading lights and setting thermostats at reasonable settings turned into a heated brainstorming session about recycling, environmental education, solar, biodiesel, and most importantly – behavioral change at Shaw University.  It appears that we were not the first to think of energy efficiency solutions at Shaw.  And we most definitely will not be the last. Read More »

Posted in EDF Climate Corps / Tagged | Comments are closed

Is This Vending Machine On?

By: Ifeoma Henry-Ajudua, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC; MBA/MIS candidate at North Carolina Central University


My EDF partner, Bridget Wilson, and I, the Team Bennett fellows, are off to a good start at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC. Bennett College is a historically black, all-women’s college founded in 1873 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This presents a big challenge for us regarding energy efficiency because upgrades and changes must stay within strict building guidelines. We are working closely with students to create an energy savings plan that everyone can get excited about.

Bennett has been working on lighting upgrades, replacing dead T-12 bulbs and ballasts with energy efficient T-8 systems. Hearing about this initiative early on, our first project was determining if it was more cost and energy efficient to replace T-12 lights only when they stop working, or to replace them right away with T-8 lights. After analyzing the sizes of the buildings, lifespan of the old lighting, cost of the new bulbs and ballasts – and factoring in Duke Energy’s Super Saver Program – we saw that the best option was to immediately upgrade the lighting systems. In order to show Bennett the potential cost savings and promote upgraded lighting, we are running a pilot program in the Pfeiffer Science building. The data from this building will be used to create a campus wide feasibility and execution plan.

Photo courtesy of Ifeoma Henry-Ajudua

A second quick score for Team Bennett came when Coca-Cola in Greensboro agreed to de-lamp all of the machines on campus. We are also recommending installing “vending misers,” which work like a sleep setting for a vending machine when nobody is around. Vending machines normally run full-time for the entire year. Installing a miser reduces energy use by 1,640 kWh —more than $800 of savings per year. The energy saved also keeps 2,000 pounds of greenhouse gas pollution, 5 pounds of nitrous oxides, and 12 pounds of sulfur oxides out of the atmosphere. The payback period for the low-tech vending misers? Less than 3 years.

Team Bennett has more great projects in the works, including one in the dorms. We are starting work on heating, cooling, and water savings. More to follow as summer progresses!

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.

Posted in EDF Climate Corps / Comments are closed

Look No Further Than The Clean Energy Economy

The micro-economics of sustainability are big and important: according to The Brookings Institution, the “clean economy” employs 2.7 million workers, which compares favorably to fossil fuels at 2.4 million jobs.  That figure represents 57,501 firms in the U.S. directly involved in the clean economy.  Of course, I continue to believe many important clean economy jobs in the supply chain are missed in these types of studies.  For example, Shuttleworth in Indiana diversified its customer base from solely electronics customers to now having roughly 30% of its business from solar customers.  While it may be near impossible to capture these nuances in standard Bureau of Labor Statistics data, such examples illustrate even more how the clean economy provides added value for U.S. job retention and creation (see the The Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness report for more information on the diverse firms in involved in the supply chains for many clean energy solutions).

Source: Brookings

Most encouraging, however, are two other key findings: the high growth rate for the clean economy sub-sector related to clean energy – 8.3% from 2003-2010 which is essentially double the growth rate for the entire economy during the same period (4.2%).   Secondly, the report documents the export strength of this sector of the clean economy versus the overall economy:  $20,129 versus $10,390 per job.  To bring us out of the recession and reduce the deficit, we need economic activity that enables us to grow fast and export more.  Look no further than the clean energy economy.   The growth rate validates an earlier study by the Pew Charitable Trusts published in 2009 characterizing the Clean Energy Economy which found a growth rate of 9.1% from 1998-2007.

So, what do these companies need to fulfill their promise?   More than anything, they need a predictable stream of U.S. customers.  So, every time a politician talks about the need to create jobs, reduce the deficit and grow America again, ask him or her what they are doing to create policies that deliver customers to these firms.

Posted in Renewable Energy / Tagged | Comments are closed