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EDF Climate Corps Helps Businesses and Governments Uncover $90M in Energy Savings

Fellows from the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps program this summer helped more than 90 organizations in the United States and China identify energy efficiency and clean energy opportunities that could decrease energy usage by 134 million kWh per year, according to a recent announcement.

These energy savings could help cut these organizations’ collective energy bills by $90 million dollars, and reduce carbon emissions by 130,000 metrics tons per year — equivalent to the annual emissions of 27,000 cars.

Climate Corps is a fellowship program offered by EDF, which recruits and train top graduate students and embeds them in companies, governments and other organizations to provide expert hands-on support for energy management initiatives. To date, EDF Climate Corps fellows have identified nearly $1.5 billion in energy savings, over 2.8 billion in annual kWh reductions, and 2 million metric tons of CO2e — the same as the annual emissions of over 420,000 cars.

This year, fellows worked on a variety of energy-focused projects at companies such as Comcast, Nestlé and Yahoo, as well as government entities like the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and the City of New York.

Full disclosure: this summer I participated in Climate Corps working with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on a strategic communications project to market a new on-bill energy-efficiency finance program for mid- to low-income homeowners.

Last week in Boston, I attended the EDF’s 6th Annual Energy Solutions Exchange, which brought together some of the program’s participating organizations, as well as 2015 fellows and alumni. Among the many presentations and sessions, Comcast and Nestlé discussed how their initial energy management successes laid the foundation for larger improvements.

Comcast Cable has developed a multi-year financial model that enables the company to anticipate its long-term capital budgeting needs for energy efficiency investments. This summer, Comcast’s Climate Corps fellow created an investment plan to scale the implementation of energy-efficient projects across its Northeast Division. These projects have the potential to reduce the division's annual energy consumption by nearly 13 million kilowatt hours, the company said, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of 1,200 homes.

As an RE100 signatory, Nestlé has committed to 100 percent renewable energy. Nestlé Waters North America operates in the United States and is developing a strategy to help get there. Building on previous work, Nestlé Waters retained the services of an EDF Climate Corps fellow to analyze the potential for off-site renewable power for certain facilities in Texas and Pennsylvania. The fellow also brought multiple Nestlé US companies together to help align on renewable purchasing strategies, thus increasing engagement, leverage and scale of potential future renewable power purchases.

Simply switching to renewable power at two of its facilities could position Nestlé Waters North America to save thousands of dollars per year in energy costs, the company said, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42,000 tons and energy-related water consumption by 48 million gallons. Once implemented, these projects could increase Nestlé Waters North America share of renewable power by nearly 15 percent.