EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Booz Allen Identifies Solutions to Energy Efficiency Obstacles in Leased Office Spaces

EDF Climate Corps fellow | July 29, 2011

By Aaron Landgraf, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton, MBA Candidate at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

As an MBA student completing an EDF Climate Corps fellowship with Booz Allen Hamilton, I often look for linkages between what I am doing this summer and what I learned from my coursework over the past two semesters at the JHU Carey Business School.

In just a few weeks at Booz Allen Hamilton, I have already seen connections to what I learned at Carey's innovative Thought & Discourse seminar, where I was given the opportunity to discuss divisive issues with subject matter experts and classmates. These conversations have proven to me that there is value in engaging with individuals whose viewpoints differ from my own.

Due to Booz Allen's Way We Work strategic initiative, I have the opportunity to put my classroom practice to work as I interact with Booz Allen employees with a variety of opinions towards sustainability. The hoteling model used by Booz Allen allows me and my colleagues to work where I want (e.g. corporate headquarters, an office near my home, in my home) and potentially sit in an office with a new person each day. For my supervisor and head of the Booz Allen Sustainability Program Management Office Elizabeth Wayt, this hoteling model gives her more control over her schedule, replaces commuting time with time she can now spend her family, and reduces her Carbon Footprint. Firmwide, hoteling has eliminated the need for a significant number of office spaces which over time will produce environmental and financial returns.

When I enter an office with a new hotel-mate, I always try to introduce myself and explain what I am working on. Most are happy to listen to the obstacles to energy efficiency investments I am trying to overcome here at Booz Allen and are eager to provide their input. I've met with Booz Allen experts in commercial real estate, energy and operations whose viewpoints challenge me to better define the value I can bring to the firm as an EDF Climate Corps fellow. Here is a snapshot of the topics we have discussed:

  • Sensibility of energy efficiency investments in leased buildings
  • Value of LEED certification to building owners and occupants
  • Difficulties in building a business case for sustainability
  • Reliability of metrics for energy efficiency
  • Importance of energy efficiency to global sustainability efforts

The questions that arise from our discourse do not have straightforward answers, but my understanding of these diverse issues has greatly improved my ability to identify the most realistic solutions for the firm. Additionally, there are recent examples of sustainable investments that show the opportunities available for firms in leased office. Here are a couple of examples from Adobe and WilmerHale:

Since many of Booz Allen's leases are shorter than 10 years, and its largest buildings are already LEED certified, the prospects for us to move in directions similar to Adobe and WilmerHale are limited. However, opportunities for innovative policy changes similar to Booz Allen's hoteling initiative are abundant. Can we work with our property managers to better control the lighting in common spaces and hallways? Can we more effectively utilize the PC Power Management already installed on company laptops? Can we engage a broader segment of Booz Allen's 25,000 employees in our sustainability efforts? These are the questions I hope to answer in the next phase of my fellowship.

EDF Climate Corps matches trained students from leading business schools with companies to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.

This content is cross-posted on In Good Company: The Vault's CSR blog.