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EDF Climate Corps Describes ‘Virtuous Cycle’ of Energy Efficiency

Sealed Air subsidiary Diversey is using elements of “a virtuous cycle” of energy efficiency to improve its performance against that metric, according to research by EDF Climate Corps.

Diversey’s progress towards energy efficiency has used all five components of EDF’s virtuous cycle model: executive engagement; resource investment; people and tools; identification, implementation and measurement; results and stories, according to a case study in The Virtuous Cycle of Organizational Energy Efficiency.

EDF describes the virtuous cycle as a model of change that applies to energy efficiency across radically different organizations.

Diversey’s major piece of executive engagement – the first component of the virtuous cycle –  came in the form of its 2008 adoption of the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers program, which committed the company to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions from operations to eight percent below 2003 levels by 2013, the report says.

This executive level buy-in led to policies that mandated that any energy efficiency projects must provide a positive return on investment and a payback period of three years or less. With the criteria set, Diversey calculated that an eight percent emissions reduction would be attainable with $19 million in investment, yielding $32 million in cash savings over the life of the program, the report says.

Setting the public goal and establishing a prudent funding model “built the momentum necessary” for the company to push towards the rest of the virtuous cycle, including commitment of resources, catalyzing people, and identifying opportunities, the report says.

In terms of resource commitment, Diversey’s environmental health and safety department secured a 40 percent year-on-year budget increase during a time when all other divisions of the company experienced a 50 percent budget cut, because of the availability of data to verify past energy project performance. Centralized capital budgeting also helped to engage and incentivize plant managers who were previously uninterested in implementing efficiency measures, according to the report.

Companies can use the virtuous cycle to progress their own efficiency goals by taking Diversey’s approach to the cycle’s components and applying them to their organization’s individual circumstances, EDF says.

The EDF Climate Corps fellowship places specially trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to identify and assess cost-effective opportunities to save energy and reduce emissions. Since 2008, EDF Climate Corps fellows have identified opportunities that could cut enough energy to power nearly 100,000 homes a year, avoid the annual carbon emissions of 200,000 cars, and save more than $1 billion in net operating costs over the project lifetimes, EDF says.

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