Monumental news this morning – the Environmental Defense Fund’s 2011 Climate Corps fellows have identified a whopping $650 million in energy savings for companies like McDonald’s, Target and others across the US. The Corps matches specially-trained MBA and MPA students with organizations, universities and cities to help them identify ways to cut energy use and save money. This summer 96 fellows and organizations were a part of the program and the savings were huge: 600 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 27 million therms of natural gas annually. These reductions will be directly responsible for removing 440,000 metric tons of annual CO2 emissions from the atmosphere — the same reduction as taking 87,000 vehicles off the road.
“In this economy, everyone is looking for ways to save, and energy efficiency is a huge, and largely untapped, opportunity,” Victoria Mills, managing director of EDF’s Corporate Partnerships program, told Sustainable Life Media. “EDF Climate Corps has shown once again the magnitude of cost savings and carbon pollution reductions available to organizations that know how to look for them.” The fellowships started four years ago with just seven students and matching companies and has grown to 96 this year. The program seeks to look for real change and to date 86% of the 2008-2012 energy savings projects are either finished or currently in progress.
In the last four years the program has identified energy savings equivalent to the reduction of 1 million metric tons of CO2 and has reduced energy operating costs for the life of the businesses involved by $1 billion. By pairing fellows with large corporations — this year the partners included Adidas, AT&T, Avon, Belk, Dunkin’ Brands, Facebook, Target, McDonald’s, New York City Housing Authority, Microsoft and REI — the EDF Climate Corps seeks to help these large corporations overcome the obstacles that stand between the organization and energy efficiency. The fellows’ main goal is to reduce energy use and just as importantly match that energy reduction with cash savings for the organization.