On Board with Energy Efficiency: EDF Climate Corps fellow finds savings at Carnival Cruise Lines

By Mandy Martin, EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Carnival Cruise Lines, MBA Candidate at Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, Member of Net Impact

In the sustainability space, the term "low-hanging fruit" is thrown around a lot in reference to energy efficiency. So my first vision of my EDF Climate Corps fellowship at Carnival Cruise Lines consisted of me bounding around a fruit orchard chock-full of tasty selections hungrily snatching up every ripe, juicy treasure with ease and delight. This daydream, sadly, was far from reality

In fact, of the vision of abundant low-hanging fruit at Carnival was an unrealistic picture of energy efficiency for two reasons:

Big Shoes

Carnival is a company that has been meticulous in identifying and implementing energy efficiency projects for many, many years. For example, Carnival replaced old, inefficient lighting with much more efficient options over 15 years ago. It has also purchased the most efficient chillers on the market, downsized the number of servers needed in the data center and even transitioned to white roofs.

Available Information

Collecting the necessary data from such a plethora of sources is complicated. Internally, energy efficiency projects span over many areas of business, from building services, information systems and group policy, to human resources and top management. Externally, experts in areas like lighting, employee engagement and computer software must be consulted upon, as well as vendors in each of these areas. On a day-to-day basis during my fellowship, I worked with as many as 50 different people to gather and analyze the information I needed.

With this being said, ripe fruit does exist at Carnival – albeit at the very top of the tree. By maneuvering the branches of data collection and injecting some creative thinking into the mix, I was able to find some valuable energy efficiency opportunities.

The first high-lying opportunity: Solar Window Film

Selecting the most efficient solar window film for the company was no quick task. Something I've noticed over the course of my fellowship is the meticulousness of Carnival Cruise Lines. Instead of accepting ‘default' values from vendors at face value, which could vary dramatically when applied to real world situations, Carnival insists on running actual experiments.

The result: the validity of the data ensures more accurate, tailored results, and Carnival's employees can get a real taste of what may be to come.

One such experiment was that of solar window film, which the vendors noted as an energy efficiency project with great potential. After researching the best vendors, we selected the top two for tests.

We selected four offices to be chosen, two for each test. We would try to make each pair as similar as possible – with the same floor area, facing the same direction, the same amount of furniture and so on. One of the pairs would have the film installed, and the other would be left as is. Over the course of a week, temperature loggers would take recordings every 15 minutes in each room. In the end, we would compare the difference in temperature between ‘filmed' and ‘non-filmed' rooms.

The change was definitely noticeable, and resulted in an average temperature difference of three degrees Fahrenheit for one vendor and a whopping 5.5 degrees from the other. In both filmed rooms, inhabitants generally felt cooler – a big feat in the blasting Miami heat. They also noticed much less glare from the windows. One caveat, however, was the amount of light entering the space. The vendor with the high degree difference had chosen a film that was, to say it simply, gloomy. So although this film would save more energy, it may not be liked by employees. Thus, the ultimate energy efficiency balancing act: keeping employees happy and productive, while making changes to their surroundings in order to save energy.

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