“By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!” This phrase from the popular (well, I knew this cartoon from India, so it’s gotta be popular) cartoon show in the nineties summarizes Environmental Defense Fund’s summer project “Climate Corps.” EDF brings together a vision of energy efficiency in Fortune 500 companies and wants to show to the world that it can be profitable as well. There are 51 Climate Corps Fellows this year, from different schools and different backgrounds (just like the Planeteers from different continents) brought together by one common thought: “greening” Corporate America.
For someone who had absolutely no knowledge about energy efficiency and sustainability, EDF’s 3-day training program was of great help. We were asked to pick the “low hanging fruit,” and their training also gave a comprehensive idea as to where to look for these.
It did not take long to realize that CA Technologies had energy efficiency projects that were either done or underway. Every suggestion I gave them, they had already heard about. I started to panic and saw myself digging more on the internet. But passion conquers all and motivates you, and I am happy that I chose not to give up and that it paid good dividends. Here’s a gist of what I take away from my experience.
- Low hanging fruit grow back: I did not believe until I actually saw it happen at CA Technologies. We have energy efficient T5 bulbs all over the place, but we had too much of it (10 foot candles of luminance is standard, but we had 35!). So, de-lamping gave us significant 6-figure savings.
- Even the most logical ideas need financial backing: The HQ of CA Technologies has a tie up with NY Power and gets electricity at a subsidized rate (which is almost half of what we usually get) and hence it makes logical sense to relocate all servers from other data centers to the HQ. But, this needed to be validated and see if there is a chance of energy efficiency here. Bundling virtualization and relocation together, shifting the lab servers from one of the locations to the HQ brought about a whopping $1.24 million in annual savings, just in electricity savings. Numbers speak larger than logic, indeed!
- Marketing is important to sustainability: We realized that both internally and externally, people were not aware of the sustainability initiatives taken by CA Technologies. I worked with a couple of teams to market our sustainability projects taken so far; this is necessary for sustainability to be a focus in the future.
- Collaboration is very important for sustainability initiatives: There are people interested in sustainability in different business units. So, for an effective business case and plan of action for a project, collaboration is very important. I learned a lot about working with cross functional teams and effective ways to keep everyone involved.
- There is always something to do; look beyond the barriers: One of the major barriers for CA Technologies is that they look for a payback period of 1 year or less for all its projects, and with the subsidized cost of electricity, having energy efficient projects can be difficult. But, there is something for every barrier… so keep digging!
When Captain Planet leaves, he says “The power is yours” and gives the powers back to the Planeteers, but in our case, the power is truly in the hands of the host companies and they truly are the champions here.
I certainly cannot believe how time flies so fast! It has been an incredible experience for me, especially for an international student to have her dream fulfilled. Hats off to EDF, Net Impact and all the host companies for coming together for a noble cause. A special thanks to my host company, CA Technologies for making my internship a wonderful experience. Thanks to Google search engine as well!
Rama Murugan | CA Technologies | Intern, Office of Sustainability | EDF Climate Corps Fellow
MBA Candidate, Class of 2011 | VP of Operations, Penn State Net Impact | VP of Communications, Association of Women MBAs | Penn State University – Smeal College of Business