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Students Find $350 Million in Savings at Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald’s

Major corporations can save millions with simple energy efficiency tweaks–if they know where to look. That’s where this group of MBA students can help.

energy efficiency tweaks at factory

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Major corporations can save millions of dollars with simple energy efficiency tweaks–if they know where to look. That’s where the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program can help. The three year-old program plays host to 51 MBA students that are sent to 47 corporations to dig up energy savings. This year’s group found $350 million in net operational cost savings at companies including Bloomberg, eBay, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Target, Verizon, and Xerox. So how did they do it?

Each Climate Corps fellow had to take a different tactic depending on the industry they were assigned to. At McDonald’s, for example, a fellow flipped burgers, toasted muffins, and took customer orders. He discovered that the company could cut approximately 2,993,000 kWh of electricity usage and avoid 1,799 metric tons of CO2
emissions each year if it installed sensors that would turn lights off when no one was standing in certain non-essential stations at the company’s 775 U.S. restaurants.

At Bloomberg, a fellow calculated the energy and cost savings for a number of potential computer power management and lighting projects. She discovered that by replacing old computers, upgrading operating systems to Windows 7, and upgrading lighting, eBay could save $1.5 million, 6,996,549 kWh of electricity each year, and 4,857 metric tons of CO2.

Not surprisingly, many of this year’s companies have participated in the program before. Christina Page, Director of Climate and Energy Strategy at Yahoo, explained in a statement: “The tremendous value of the EDF
Climate Corps program is clear to us. We are saving tens of millions of
kilowatt hours per year of energy from previous projects identified by our
first Climate Corps fellow, so we jumped at the chance to sign up again. Our
2010 fellow uncovered even more opportunities for saving energy in our data
centers and building systems.”

If you needed a reason to get excited about the next generation of MBAs, this may well be it.

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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