A program launched in North Carolina in 2009 to help universities increase energy efficiency and save money is expanding into a national effort to curb greenhouse gas pollution in five states. EDF Climate Corps Public Sector, an innovative summer fellowship program developed by Environmental Defense Fund, specially trains graduate students to sleuth out energy efficiency savings in higher education, local governments and other organizations.
North Carolina campuses participating this summer include Bennett College, Catawba College, Fayetteville State University, NC A&T State University, Shaw University, University of North Carolina-Pembroke and Winston-Salem State University.
Fellows also will focus on energy savings in local governments, including Cary, Elizabeth City, Mecklenburg County, Nash County, New Hanover County, Rocky Mount and Wilmington.
In addition, fellows will develop custom energy efficiency plans for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry.
EDF Climate Corps Public Sector focuses on minority serving institutions and diverse communities. In the summers of 2009 and 2010, fellows identified projects that could reduce energy use by 46 percent. Cost savings are directly linked to improvements in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems. Fellows document how to use savings to pay for energy upgrades.
“Saving energy means saving money, and that’s the cornerstone of a sustainable business plan for a company or a public organization,” said Jill Logeman, EDF program coordinator. “Campuses, government buildings and other public places use a tremendous amount of energy, and they can take advantage of smart energy investments just like major corporations.”
The program is credited with helping North Carolina Central University in Durham identify ways the campus could cut energy costs by more than $2.6 million annually – a dramatic 64 percent reduction.
In all, 26 fellows are participating in the 10-week program in North Carolina. The fellows are students at host universities and other schools, including Duke, Wake Forest and NC State.
Outside of North Carolina, EDF Climate Corps Public Sector will place fellows in New Jersey towns, the New York Public Housing Authority and at minority serving institutions in Georgia, Texas and Washington, DC.
EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is an offshoot of EDF Climate Corps, started in 2008 to place top-tier MBA students in the nation’s leading companies to identify and analyze energy-saving opportunities and develop practical, actionable plans for companies to implement them. The program’s rapid success in the corporate world led EDF to expand its work into the public sector. Belk and Ingersoll Rand will host fellows in the Charlotte area this year.