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EDF Climate Corps Fellows ‘Average $1m’ in Savings for Host Companies

On average, EDF Climate Corps fellows each find $1 million in energy savings for their host organizations, such as Google, Facebook and the Boston public school system. This is more than 60 times what it costs to hire the fellows, EDF says.

Members of the program, which 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, have found over $1.2 billion in energy savings, and identified ways to cut one million tons of climate-warming emissions over the past five years, EDF says. Host organizations are investing $150 million to put those recommendations into action, according to the organization.

This is EDF Climate Corps’ fifth and biggest season yet: 97 students spent the summer identifying energy savings at 87 host organizations including AT&T, Caterpillar and REI. Some 54 new companies joined the program this year.

EDF says that the impact of the program goes “well beyond the numbers.” Half of all host companies invest in multi-year fellowships to gain broader and deeper benefits across the organization. Climate Corps fellows are challenging companies to go deeper by developing employee engagement campaigns, setting climate and energy goals, and embracing new ways to finance energy efficiency upgrades, EDF says.

MIT’s Sloan School has been a partner in these efforts, guiding analysis and working with EDF to develop the first-ever model of a “virtuous cycle” of organizational energy efficiency. The model lists five components that contribute to an energy-efficiency drive: executive engagement; resource investment; people and tools; identification, implementation and measurement; and results and stories.

In October, private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners and EDF announced that they are working together to improve the financial and operational performance of middle-market portfolio companies by integrating environmental metrics with core business strategies.

The two organizations have created a methodology to map companies according to environmental metrics, financial opportunities and management readiness, in order to focus on those that are capable of making the greatest impact. Their goal is to both improve environmental performance at companies within Oak Hill’s portfolio and to create a model that can be used by other middle-market firms to find environmental opportunities in their own portfolios.

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