EDF Climate Corps Sniff Out Energy Savings

What do Target, McDonalds and the New York City Housing Authority all have in common? This summer, each of these companies played host to an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow, dedicated to uncovering and providing solutions to the company’s energy inefficiencies.

The Environmental Defense Fund announced the results of its summer Climate Corps Fellows, which resulted in the fellows sniffing out an overall total of $650 million in energy savings (significantly up from last year’s $350 million total). The fellowship program, in it’s fourth year, placed 96 specially-trained MBA and MPA students in 78 companies, cities and universities to sleuth out energy savings and carbon dioxide reductions.


The students found energy-saving solutions that resulted in the reduction of 600 million kilowatt (KW) hours of electricity and 27 million therms of natural gas, the equivalent energy use of 38,000 homes. The fellows also found ways to avoid 440,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, the equivalent of 87,000 passenger vehicles.

Among the line items the Climate Corps achieved are:

  • McDonald’s worked with Pia Jean Kristiansen, an EDF Climate Corps fellow and MBA candidate from the University of Michigan, to find creative ways to engage the company’s estimated 700,000 U.S. restaurant employees in energy efficiency initiatives.  Kristiansen’s work will result in an educational video developed to educate employees on ways to reduce an average restaurant’s energy consumption up to 10 percent.
  • Neal Tsay, an EDF Climate Corps fellow and MBA candidate from UCLA, worked with sustainability leaders at Target to develop a plan to achieve its commitment to earn ENERGY STAR ratings for 75 percent of its U.S. buildings by 2015. Additionally, Tsay sought to improve energy efficiency in Target stores by proposing initiatives that could eliminate 50,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions each year and generate several million dollars in annual energy savings.
  • The New York City Housing Authority learned how to reduce annual heating costs by $58 million, thanks to a plan developed by EDF Climate Corps fellows Harrison Thomas and Amy Kochanowsky, who are working on degrees in business, environmental management and public policy at Duke University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Their findings could cut the housing authority’s annual energy costs by 11 percent.
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) University discovered it could save $2.5 million over the next five years by implementing the recommendations from EDF Climate Corps fellows LaKausha Simpson, a PhD candidate in engineering at A&T, and Jonathan Wilson, an MBA candidate at Wake Forest University. A&T’s investments in energy efficiency measures, such as improved lighting, will pay for themselves in only three months.

    Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

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