Forbes: “Finally an internship program that gets corporate sustainability!”. What makes this program unique is the relative ease it offers for companies to begin their sustainability journey by focusing on easier-to-measure energy efficiency initiatives. Like one of the fellows pointed out, you cannot manage what you don’t measure.
Fifty-one MBA students made the cut this year and were placed with a diverse group of companies, including consumer products giants PepsiCo and P&G, financial services providers Bank of America and Citizens Bank, media companies Bloomberg andNews Corp, internet giant eBay and technology company Cisco, among others. Several shared their progress, challenges and lessons with Vault through our CSR blog, In Good Company. Their perspectives illustrate not only the challenge ahead for companies as they begin redefining work culture and operations toward a sustainable reality, but also the progress many continue to make despite a quiet economy and fewer resources.
News Corp: Engaging Employees on Sustainability
Jay Stone, an MBA candidate at New York University’s Stern School of Business, is interning with News Corp this summer. His initial observations speak to the status quo at many global companies.
Lighting: “Is this thing on?” – Yes it is. The entire building is…ON. And quite bright! One thing I’m beginning to love, however, is things can happen quickly here if you want them to. By the end of my first week, I had scheduled a building walk through with a lighting retrofit company. We will meet next week to discuss the replacement of all the old light bulbs with HQEE (high quality, energy efficient) bulbs. The initial estimated cost of this project falls around $240,000. Government incentives will take care of 50% of the total, bringing the investment down to $120,000. Based on the number of bulbs in the building (over 700), that would make for annual energy savings of $116,000, giving this project a payback period of just one year.
Heating, Ventilating & Air-conditioning (HVAC): I think the estranged Dr. Evil put it best when he said, “It’s frickin’ freezing in here, Mr. Bigglesworth” The building is extremely cold, which is probably costing a pretty penny in a New York City summer. I’ve spoken with the HVAC foreman about increasing some of the temperatures so that the plant isn’t so cold, especially when people are not at work. Turning each A/C unit up just one degree in a building this size could have a monumental effect on the building’s energy consumption and result in some dramatic cost savings.
eBay: The Sheer Energy of Energy Efficiency
Megan Rast is pursuing her MBA at University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and currently interning with eBay. The first couple of weeks for Rast highlighted the challenge of defining a business case for energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives. Her big question: Does the Software Side of Energy Efficiency Signal the Next Wave of Startups? After attending an event hosted by MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, she observes:
“Unlike other investments towards a clean energy economy, energy efficiency is ready for mass commercialization as the least expensive and the most readily scalable solution, according to an expert report released by the United Nations Foundation. After attending the EDF Climate Corps training in San Francisco last month, I was already quite familiar with the opportunities of energy efficiency. I attended last week’s event expecting to gain a broader perspective of the space, but I could not have imagined the sheer energy (pardon my pun) circulating through the event – the promise of energy efficiency was downright tangible.”
RBS/Citizens Bank: Banking on Green
Stuart DeCew is a joint degree MBA/MEM candidate at Yale School of Management and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. He is working with Citizens Bank in New York this summer and has had quite an experience already, realizing that–despite the bank’s championing of sustainability–there is always more that can be done.
“One of the first conversations I had at RBS/Citizens was with the head building engineer at the facility in Stamford. He had been designing and making the business case for implementing efficiency projects for over a decade. A quick cup of coffee with him made two things very clear: 1) Even a LEED gold certified building has room to improve; and 2) I will have no shortage of work this summer.”
DeCew had another tip to offer: Attach numbers to your hard work and it instantly becomes a stronger case. “Simply put, better data on an investment means a stronger case. With these numbers, RBS/Citizens will have the necessary information to determine exactly how future capital expenditures could reduce the operating expenses of a building and give the company a competitive advantage.”
PepsiCo: LEEDing The Way to Sustainability
And finally we heard from Peter Petropoulos, an MBA candidate with the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, who is interning with PepsiCo. Like DeCew, Petropoulos’ challenge has been building on an already-impressive bucket of sustainability initiatives.
“I’ve spent the last two weeks at one of PepsiCo’s facilities in Dallas where my charge for the summer has been a mouthful to say the least. I’ve been asked to identify the minimum standards for LEED certification, perform a gap analysis between the facility and certification, and develop a project road map including costs and ROI. There is no doubt that PepsiCo is a sustainability leader in the corporate world. Walking into PepsiCo for the first time and realizing that its LEED Gold certified headquarters is just up the street from my project was a bit intimidating for a student searching for environmental opportunities. Luckily, I realized early on that the company’s internal experts would be some of my most important resources.”