In June 2015, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced that its 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellows had been deployed to organizations throughout the United States, Mexico, and China to begin the work of cutting costs and carbon emissions through improved energy management. Now in its eighth year, EDF Climate Corps pairs fellows—top graduate students from the nation’s leading universities—with companies, cities, schools, and public institutions to identify and implement high-value ways to save energy, carbon emissions, and money.
The 2015 class of 117 EDF Climate Corps fellows will work in 96 of organizations around the United States—Nestlé Waters, Verizon, The U.S. Army Fort Bragg and Yahoo!, for example—and eight fellows will work with global organizations in Mexico and China.
Their projects will focus on energy strategy, data management, financing and clean energy solutions such as demand response and renewables, in addition to building retrofits and equipment upgrades.
Victoria Mills, managing director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships program, who leads EDF Climate Corps, shares a further overview of the program below.
EDF Climate Corps: Cutting Costs and Emissions through Energy Management
By Victoria Mills
Eight years ago, the first “hosts” and “fellows” of EDF Climate Corps were matched in a 21st century experiment—partnering top graduate students with organizations eager to improve energy management for which they had limited internal resources.
It was a new idea, but it drew on EDF’s decades of experience working with companies to find pragmatic, market-based solutions to environmental challenges. As a result of its early and growing success, EDF Climate Corps has scaled this innovative model, now embedding hundreds of fellows in diverse organizations every summer across the U.S. and in China. These fellows are part of a network working on the ground with leading companies and public sector organizations to elevate energy management to a strategic business priority.
JLL and Urban Innovations, in their quest each recently hosted EDF Climate Corps fellows to provide hands-on support for their energy management initiatives. For both of these commercial real estate firms, EDF Climate Corps fellows provided a cost-effective resource to evaluate and implement projects that saved money and improved their energy management and allowed them to join Retrofit Chicago, a voluntary program in which the buildings pledge to reduce commercial energy use by 20% in five years.
Since 2008, EDF Climate Corps fellows have identified nearly $1.4 billion in energy savings for host organizations, with the potential to reduce climate pollution by over 1.8 million metric tons per year. More than 300 organizations have participated in the program, including Apple, Facebook, Google, AT&T, General Motors, the U.S. Army, the Housing Authority of Los Angeles, J.P. Morgan Chase, Staples, and Verizon.
EDF Climate Corps fellows are selected from top graduate programs at U.S. colleges and universities through a competitive process based on academic background, professional experience, and relevant skills. In 2014, 700 students applied and 117 were accepted. EDF Climate Corps fellows have worked on a wide range of energy management projects including:
Energy Efficiency: Climate Corps fellows identify, analyze, and quantify opportunities to save energy in systems common to most facilities.
Data Analysis and Energy Information Systems: Climate Corps follows analyze and track energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data, conduct GHG inventory management, facility benchmarking, and energy mapping for host organizations.
Employee Engagement: Climate Corps fellows develop programs to empower employees to engage and drive energy initiatives.
Funding Mechanisms: Climate Corps fellows create innovative financing strategies in support of energy management initiatives.
Demand Response: Climate Corps fellows analyze opportunities for revenue generation by working with service providers to set up demand response programs for their host organizations.
Through the Climate Corps program, EDF is building a network of climate and energy leaders, driving scalable solutions for a clean energy economy.
Mills has more than 15 years of experience working with companies to create environmental improvements that make business sense.