EDF Climate Corps Fellows Find $650 Million Worth of Operational Cost Savings

This summer, 96 MBA and MPA students placed in 78 companies, cities and universities through the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps. They found $650 million worth of savings in net operational costs through energy efficiency projects and carbon dioxide reductions. These efficiency opportunities in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems, if implemented, will:

  • Reduce 600 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of power use and 27 million thermos of natural gas a year, equivalent to the annual energy use of 38,000 homes
  • Avoid 440,000 metric tons of carbon emissions a year, equivalent to the annual emissions of 87,000 passenger vehicles

The Climate Corps is in its fourth year, and has grown significantly since its seven fellows in 2008. The projects initiated or identified by the fellows from 2008 to 2010 are either completed or underway.

Highlights of this year’s results include:

  • Climate Corps fellow from the University of Michigan MBA program, Pia Jean Kristiansen’s work with McDonald’s will result in an education video that will be used to educate employees on how they can reduce an average restaurant’s energy consumption up to 10 percent.
  • Climate Corps fellow Neal Tsay, MBA candidate from UCLA, worked with Target to develop a plan to achieve Energy Star ratings for 75 percent of the company’s U.S. buildings by 2015. Tsay also proposed initiatives that could reduce 50,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a year and generate several millions of dollars in annual energy savings.
  • Climate Corps fellow Harrison Thomas from Duke University, and Amy Kochanowsy, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, worked with the New York City Housing Authority to reduce annual heating costs by $58 million, and found that the Housing Authority could reduce annual energy costs by 11 percent.
  • Climate Corps fellows LaKausha Simpson, PhD candidate in engineering at Agricultural and Technical (A&T) University, and Jonathan Wilson, MBA candidate at Wake Forest University, worked with A&T to save $2.5 million over the next five years through energy efficiency measures.

Results from previous years

In 2010, Climate Corps fellows found potential energy use reductions of 685 million kWh a year, enough to power 63,000 homes a year. Fellows also found opportunities to reduce 47,000 metric tons of carbon a year, equivalent to taking nearly 64,000 SUVs off the road a year. Over the lifetime of the projects fellows found $352 million in potential net operational cost savings.

In 2009, fellows found potential energy use reductions of 161 million kWh a year, enough to power more than 17,000 homes a year. Fellows also discovered ways to reduce 103,000 metric tons of carbon a year, equivalent to taking nearly 17,000 SUVs off the road per year. The energy use and carbon emissions reductions amount to  $56 million in potential net operational cost savings over the projects’ lifetimes.

Fellows discovered 120 million kWh of energy use reductions during 2008, the first year of Climate Corps, enough to power 10,000 homes a year. In addition, fellows discovered 57,000 tons of carbon emissions reductions a year, equivalent to taking more than 7,000 SUVs off the road a year. Both the energy use and carbon reductions could save $35 million over the next five years.

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Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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