Business students find $350 million in energy savings at major companies
To come to grips with their massive use of energy, major companies have brought on professional consultants, joined green organizations, even hired on-staff sustainability executives.
But this summer, firms such as eBay Inc., McDonald's Corp., PepsiCo, Target Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. turned to a group of graduate students in hopes of becoming more eco-friendly.
Through the Climate Corps program, run by the Environmental Defense Fund, 51 business students were placed at 47 companies to find ways to save energy. When the program launched in 2008, just seven students participated.
The students uncovered potential energy reductions that, if implemented, could mean a $350-million reduction in utility bills each year and 400,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions averted annually. Lighting and computer equipment could be more efficient, the students found, and heating and cooling systems could be tweaked.
AT&T Inc., for example, could cut up to 80% of its electricity costs across more than 100 million square feet of space, one student found. Each student developed energy-efficiency investment and implementation plans for their host company.
Of more than 200 applicants, participants were chosen from schools such as the University of Chicago, New York University, UC Berkeley and Yale University.
Photo (top): EDF Climate Corps fellows take a building tour to learn more about systems they will be evaluating at host companies.
Photo (bottom): EDF Climate Corps fellows Megan Rast and Chris Gassman discuss energy efficiency opportunities at eBay. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund.