Environmental Defense Fund Offers Powerful Tool for Enhancing Companies’ Sustainability

Filed in Corporate Social Responsibility by on July 15, 2013 0 Comments

In the last 10 years, environmental sustainability at many companies has rapidly moved from a minor program to an enterprise-wide initiative. Yet, while many businesses have made sustainability a priority, finding the specialized expertise to keep up with the latest practices of this quickly evolving area has remained a challenge. Fortunately, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps offers an innovative program to provide individual on-site expertise through its summer fellowship program.

Starting last summer, Syniverse has had the opportunity to participate in the prestigious Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps, which is a program that recruits students from the nation’s top graduate programs to leverage their expertise with sustainability and energy-management practices at participating organizations. In this post, I’d like to highlight how this program is making a huge impact in improving the culture of sustainability as well as on the environment at Syniverse and at other companies.

Since 2008, the EDF Climate Corps has joined forces with participating organizations to realize $1.2 million in total energy savings – savings equivalent to the removal of 200,000 cars off the road each year. This summer, the EDF will have 116 Climate Corps fellows placed in 106 organizations throughout the U.S. These include such prominent institutions as General Motors, AT&T, Facebook, PepsiCo, New York Housing Authority, and Chicago Public Schools.

Numerous energy-efficiency measures are cost-effective and easy to implement, yet limited resources, information gaps and organizational barriers impede organizations from adopting them. The EDF helps host organizations to effectively overcome these barriers. By participating in the EDF Climate Corps program, a company can gain access to a network of energy-management professionals from other companies, as well as events and resources available to EDF Climate Corps hosts, fellows and alumni.

Last year, Syniverse’s first Climate Corps fellow assessed our existing energy-use data and identified potential energy-saving measures. The fellow was able to propose floor consolidation, virtualization of data center servers, and adjustments to data center cooling and lighting. From these proposals, a potential annual cost savings of more than $180,000 could be realized with a 17 percent energy savings. A contest to gather ideas on how to improve Syniverse’s sustainability implementation for all its global offices was additionally coordinated by the fellow, who served as one of the contest judges along with members of management.

This year, our Climate Corps fellow, Mona Benisi, will build upon our previous work and develop further opportunities that will maximize environmental and economic benefits for Syniverse. As a graduate student at Columbia University studying sustainability management, Benisi was selected by the EDF to participate in Climate Corps 2013 based on her academic background and professional experience, which includes more than two years in the corporate sustainability office of Siemens. Her focus will be to assist Syniverse in reaching its carbon-reduction goals by 2015. Her international experience will allow her to further our progress in global energy efficiency, employee engagement, and supplier engagement, to name just a few areas.

The fellowships in return offer graduate students exposure to corporate enterprise and best business practices. Students are able to apply their skills to real-life situations and, at the same time, confirm if their chosen field of study is indeed up to their expectations. Climate Corps fellows are able to work directly with role models serving as mentors, who can inspire the students to reach their full potential.

The EDF Climate Corps offers a tremendous opportunity for both the organizations and students that participate each year. It is not surprising that many organizations keep coming back to the EDF as return participants based on the value provided to them from previous Climate Corps engagements. Although there are projections of over $1.2 trillion in energy savings that can be realized by the national economy, many organizations are still not aware that they can increase their profits through effective energy-conservation practices. The EDF Climate Corps harnesses the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to take organizations to the next level of effective energy management.

Do you think the EDF Climate Corps and programs like it will be adopted by more and more companies as sustainability becomes an increasing priority for the corporate world? I would love to get your comments.

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Kathy Rebel is a former Certification and Sustainability Manager at Syniverse.

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