The next generation of energy conscious business leaders

Millie Chu Baird | May 14, 2009

By Millie Chu Baird

Just in time for training next week, we've made our 26th (and final) Climate Corps Fellow match!

EDF's Climate Corps program recruits and trains MBA students (Fellows) from leading business schools in energy efficiency strategies and financial assessment. The Fellows then spend their summer on-site at host companies, conducting a detailed analysis of energy reduction opportunities. Each Fellow's goal is to work with their host company to produce a detailed, actionable investment and implementation plan to cut costs and reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. For the Fellows, it's a one-of-a kind experience, spending their summer having real-world impact on a company's business and environmental performance.

Next week we are bringing all the Fellows to our San Francisco offices to get 2.5 days of training by our staff and also Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), widely-recognized experts on building energy efficiency. The training will include modules on building energy efficiency, the latest thinking on data center efficiency, exercises and discussion about energy efficiency finance, a tour of One California Street's building systems and a lighting seminar at the Pacific Energy Center.

Apparently a seat at the training is the hottest ticket in town; EDF staff members from all over the country have been calling to see if they can also attend! We had to cap the number of participants based on how many chairs we could squeeze into our largest conference room.

What a great problem to have. Last summer the Climate Corps program consisted of 7 Fellows and 7 host companies. This year, we've nearly quadrupled the size of the program to include 26 Fellows at 24 host companies. We were able to scale up by partnering with Net Impact, a preeminent network of MBA students and corporate leaders interested in the intersection of business and social responsibility. Through Net Impact, we received 160 applications from students at every top-notch business school in the country.

It was quite a task to find the best matches from this student pool for the 24 companies that EDF recruited nationwide! In these economic times, you'd think that a paid internship with EDF and a marquee company would be a no-brainer, but finding the right matches of geography and industry-type are more difficult than you would think. (So you have a husband in Boston – what's the big deal about relocating to the Bay Area for the summer?) After painstaking interviews, tough decisions and yes, some negotiations, we've finally got our '09 cohort of stellar Climate Corps Fellows.

With all the logistics going on behind the scenes, it's easy to forget the point of this program: helping companies save energy – and money. I can't wait to see what kinds of opportunities these 26 Fellows discover this summer!