EDF Climate Corps: Making a Sustainable Difference

EDF Climate Corps fellow | November 18, 2010

By Jeremy Dommu, 2010 EDF Climate Corps fellow at PHH Arval, MBA candidate at the George Washington School of Business, George Washington University, Member of Net Impact 

At the end of my 10-week fellowship with PHH Arval (PHH), as part of the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps Fellowship program, I delivered a presentation to a roomful of the company's leadership team making recommendations on how the organization can capture business value by making investments in energy efficiency. While you would think I would be nervous making a pitch to high-level executives, as opposed to when I'm in my comfort zone presenting to my peers in the MBA program at George Washington University (GW Full-Time MBA Profile), I was surprisingly relaxed. The reason? I knew the numbers in my presentation speak for themselves.


The EDF Climate Corps program places trained MBA fellows into companies to capture unrealized financial and environmental gains through the identification and implementation of cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements. It's a program that combines consulting, organizational change, project management, sustainability, and finance into a 10-week package. I walked away with quantifiable results and the knowledge that I helped make a real difference for a company by directly helping it increase profits, while actively making a difference by combating climate change. I learned and developed my own skills and joined a network of other like-minded business students. In all honesty, I could not have asked for a better opportunity.

As an environmentalist, I'm proud that the projects I identified for PHH Arval will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action to fight global warming. The aggregate total of the 20 energy-efficiency projects in lighting, heating and air-conditioning, office equipment, and data centers that I analyzed would reduce energy consumption by more than 3 million kilowatt-hours per year, the equivalent of the electricity used by 1,500 homes annually. It would also avoid nearly 1,600 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the same as removing 1,300 SUVs from the road. I knew explaining the environmental benefits of my recommendations would not get them approved by a bottom-line-oriented CFO. Instead, I relied on my business acumen and presented the financial analysis in terms of net present value, rate of return, and payback period. The fact is that energy efficiency is not just responsible business; it's good business, period. The projects that I analyzed would reduce annual energy costs by about $374,000 per year. At a total cost of about $284,000, these investments would be paid back in only nine months and provide a return on investment of 131 percent. I knew investment opportunities like this would earn the approval of even the most conservative financial officer, particularly given these tough economic times.

To read the full article, please visit Bloomberg Businessweek.