Employees will pledge to "consistently flip the switch" to cut costs at Franklin Templeton Investments

By Daniel Cantor, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Franklin Templeton Investments, MBA/MS candidate at Erb Institute, University of Michigan, Member of Net Impact

Halfway through my 11-week fellowship at Franklin Templeton Investments through EDF Climate Corps, I am awed by the scope of what I realize I can accomplish this summer. Through this fellowship program, Environmental Defense Fund has created a unique and powerful collaborative network of both internal and external experts for me and the other 50 fellows to share a profusion of energy efficiency resources. The value of these resources can be quantified by the $89 million in savings identified by the 33 previous Climate Corps fellows over the past two years.

One of our most interactive resources is a private online forum that was created for EDF Climate Corps fellows to share questions, ideas, additional resources and solutions. To illustrate the breadth of parallel conversations that occur on this space, the following threads were initiated in a typical hour on the forum:

  • Methods to quantify the travel savings from using telepresence
  • The potential energy savings from data deduplication
  • An anecdote about a nearby employee's space heater catching on fire

With so many other fellows working through a similar process, I was initially concerned that the questions and answers would be pre-packaged, eliminating the challenge and learning process of seeking out information myself. Luckily, I was wrong. The other fellows and industry experts provide leads on new opportunities, but the process is unique for each of us when applied to the existing infrastructure and organizational culture of each host company. With so many resources on energy efficiency at our fingertips, I simply have to determine which are the most applicable and suitable for Franklin Templeton.

I have also dipped into a deep pool of knowledge within the employee base at Franklin Templeton. I am currently working on an innovative behavior change campaign to reduce energy use throughout the company's office buildings. By simply taking the stairs instead of the elevators and turning off lights and appliances, energy savings can add up significantly. Motivating a critical mass to "consistently flip the switch" is the challenge. Fortunately, an employee "green team" is ready and willing to help. Leveraging the successful efforts from friendly competition between floors that led to a companywide 25% reduction in paper use, I've determined that an energy efficiency challenge is in order.

The obstacle: Accurately tracking the energy gains from each individual employee's actions, which has proven to be impossible to date.

The solution: Voluntary pledges that will actually help motivate employees. Employees will use an online tool with a list of actions that they can pledge to participate in by simply checking the corresponding boxes. The tool will provide the energy savings per individual, per floor and for the company as a whole.

Implementing this project and making the pledges viewable by internal staff fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie within the company. It is an initiative that everyone, regardless of their standing on the organizational chart, can participate in and contribute to making a difference.

As I head into the second half of my fellowship begins, I am excited to work with Franklin Templeton Investments to creatively address the barriers that plague so many companies from successfully picking the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency.