The Secret Sauce in EDF Climate Corps’s Success: Our Fellow Training

Liz Delaney | June 2, 2015

Some good news to start your day: our energy future is looking brighter.

I’m confident in making such a bold—and optimistic—statement because I’ve just returned from spending three intense, invigorating days training our future energy leaders: namely, the 2015 class of EDF Climate Corps fellows.

Picture 117 graduate students—primarily MBA and engineering students—gathered in a Chicago hotel, coffee and laptops at the ready, diving deep into topics such as building energy systems, clean tech innovation, energy efficiency finance and data analysis. To someone outside the energy field, this would appear to be exactly what it is: an energy management geek-fest. But these bright, talented students were clearly in heaven as they prepared for a summer—and a career—of implementing strategic energy management.

For the uninitiated, EDF Climate Corps is the eight-year-old program that provides both private and public organizations with hands-on-help to find energy savings within their buildings and operations. Each of these brilliant grad students is hand-picked to best fulfill the specific goals of their host organizations.

Now one thing I’m certain of is this: the EDF Climate Corps model works. Since 2008, our fellows have collectively identified the potential for saving over $1.4 billion dollars, simply by investing in energy efficiency. In addition these impressive savings, countless fellows have helped their hosts advance organization-wide strategies to procure and manage energy in new and innovative ways.

As I watched this year’s class hungrily absorbing energy minutiae from their expert instructors, I was struck by the fact that this training has a lot to do with why the model works. It’s intensive, to be sure, but it’s also dynamic: content and methodology that is constantly evolving to keep pace with the ever-changing energy landscape.

Here’s a synopsis of what the fellows go through:

  • We start with several weeks of “pre-training”—papers to read and webinars, many from Schneider Electric’s Energy University. While our fellows come from dozens of different schools and degree programs, this levels the playing field somewhat.
  • Then the fellows are ready to jump into more hands-on, practical and advanced topics at the training itself, where they’re sent along one of two tracks: Building Management or Energy Strategy.
  • While each of these tracks is designed to deliver a unique combination of subject matter and skills that set them up for success in their specific fellowship, they both are built upon five, essential, broad-reaching “learning outcomes” that we demand of all fellows:
  1. Energy Vocabulary: the ability to read and speak energy management language, so they can follow the life cycle of an energy efficiency project and communicate effectively with people at all levels of their host organization.
  2. Reliable Building Energy Solutions: the ability to identify key opportunities for investment in energy efficiency and operational improvements that are scalable across a portfolio of buildings or even across organizations. We develop this ability by taking our fellows on building tours and discussing energy management case studies.
  3. Energy Innovation: the ability to integrate new and evolving technological and management solutions into their building energy projects where possible. Examples would be modeling the entire energy value chain from generation to consumption, analyzing the benefits of participating in demand response or buying renewable energy.
  4. Financial Analysis: the ability to build a compelling business case for adopting advanced energy management solutions, preparing financial analyses for energy investments and exploring alternative ways to finance energy projects.
  5. Project Management: the ability to deliver high-quality results in a compressed timeline, in alignment with both EDF’s and their host organization’s expectations, including hands-on tactics for stakeholder engagement, such as storytelling training from our communications team.

These are the capabilities our training delivers. From there, the fellows are deployed to their summer placements, where they immediately put their new knowledge and skills to work. They have only twelve weeks (sometime less) to produce a final product. But, thanks in part to their own research, their outreach to EDF technical experts and their access the vast network of current and past fellows for expertise and support, they always come through.

So I’m proud, I’m energized and, yes, I’m optimistic. Armed with the training’s strong energy management foundation, as well as the right questions and the support of both EDF experts and their own peers, these future energy leaders really are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy.


About EDF Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps ( taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment by placing specially trained EDF fellows in companies, cities and universities as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has uncovered nearly $1.4 billion in energy savings. For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at