Graduate Students Improve Energy Efficiency, Save Money Across US

A program launched in North Carolina in 2009 to help universities increase energy efficiency and save money is expanding into a national effort to curb greenhouse gas pollution in five states, including Texas, Georgia, New York, Washington D.C. and New Jersey. Climate Corps Public Sector, an innovative summer fellowship program developed by Environmental Defense Fund, specially trains graduate students to sleuth out energy efficiency savings in local governments, higher education and other organizations.

In the summers of 2009 and 2010, fellows identified projects that could reduce energy use by 46 percent. Cost savings are directly linked to improvements in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems. Fellows document how to use savings to pay for energy upgrades. The program is credited with helping North Carolina Central University identify ways the campus could cut energy costs by more than $2.6 million annually – a dramatic 64 percent reduction.

“Saving energy means saving money, and that’s the cornerstone of a sustainable business plan for a company or a public organization,” said Jill Logeman, EDF program coordinator. “Government buildings, campuses and other public places use a tremendous amount of energy, and they can take advantage of smart energy investments just like major corporations.”

This summer EDF Climate Corps Public Sector will place fellows in several institutions in North Carolina, New Jersey towns, the New York Public Housing Authority and at minority serving institutions in Texas, Washington, D.C. and Georgia.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is an offshoot of EDF Climate Corps, started in 2008 to place top-tier MBA students in the nation’s leading companies to identify and analyze energy-saving opportunities and develop practical, actionable plans for companies to implement them. The program’s rapid success in the corporate world led EDF to expand its work into the public sector.

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