That's a Wrap! EDF Climate Corps fellow at Humana reflects on results

EDF Climate Corps fellow | December 10, 2011

John-Paul Fontelo is a 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Humana and an MBA Candidate at University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business

Upon returning to Notre Dame this fall to kick off my second year of business school, I found myself reflecting on the real value of my summer fellowship as an EDF Climate Corps fellow at Humana. So to round out the series of blogs I wrote this summer about my experience, below are the key results and takeaways of my EDF Climate Corps fellowship.

John Paul FonteloFirst, the results:

  • I helped identify significant cost savings for Humana through analyzing Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and airflow management solutions;
  • the Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI) engineers we worked with suggested that Humana take advantage of free cooling in the data centers*, which could allow for the data center operators to shut down the Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRACs) for 6000+ hours a year; and
  • We identified an added benefit from the VFDs in that they would help the cooling operate so efficiently that a few CRAC units could be shutdown indefinitely.

All in all, the projects I helped identify could save nearly 16 million kWh or $620,000 in electricity costs per year, which translates to about 11 metric tons of carbon emissions.

And along the way of identifying these energy-saving solutions, I learned a few things. My key takeaways are:

  • Even though much of the "low-hanging fruit" has been picked, one can always find more efficiency projects.
  • A common theme I've noticed is the importance of influencing human behavior as well as proposing recommendations.  No one gets that more than Humana, where the HR organization is huge.  In a field as vast and people-oriented as health and wellness, this company realizes that the key to success lies in engaging its employees on a meaningful level.
  • Louisville is a place where any civic-minded person who wants to get involved in the community can easily make an impact.  I had the privilege to meet with the CEO of a Fortune 100 company (Mike McCallister) and the Mayor back-to-back, and there are not a lot of cities where that would be possible.

The outgoing dean of the business school at Notre Dame, Carolyn Woo, told us when we first arrived in South Bend last August that business should not be thought of as a "necessary evil."  Rather, it is a "necessary good" because it can be a force in solving society's problems, such as over-pollution.  I have seen that on display this summer, with engaging people at Humana, Johnson Controls and other sustainability partners who possess the courage and moral imagination to "ask more of business."

*Note: The free air cooling project we worked on with JCI is quite interesting. For more information on free-air cooling, see this EDF-produced video about how the practice could cut the energy needed to cool AT&T's buildings by up to 50 percent.

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

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities 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.