CSR And The Job Hunt: 51 MBA Students LEED The Way to Green

by Aman Singh Das | July 09, 2010

  • My Vault

"Finally an internship program that gets corporatesustainability!" That was my reaction back in May, when I heardabout the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF)Climate Corps internship, whichfocuses on sustainability.

This week, the Climate Corps class of 2010completed the first three weeks of their internships. This internship program is unique because it allowscompanies an opportunity to begin their sustainability journey by focusing oneasier-to-measure energy efficiency initiatives. Like one of the fellowspointed out, you cannot manage what you don’t measure.

Fifty-one MBA students made the cut this year andwere placed with a diverse group of companies, including consumer productsgiants PepsiCo and P&G , financial services providers Bankof America, media companies Bloomberg and News Corp, internet giant eBay and technology company Cisco,among others. Several shared their progress, challenges and lessons with Vault here In Good Company. Theirperspectives illustrate not only the challenge ahead for companies as theybegin redefining work culture and entire operations toward a sustainablereality, but also the progress many continue to make despite a quiet economyand fewer resources.

News Corp

Jay Stone, an MBA candidate at New YorkUniversity's Stern School of Business is interning with News Corp this summer.His initial observations speak to the status quo at many global companies.

1) Lighting:“Is this thing on?” – Yes it is. The entire building is...ON. And quite bright!One thing I'm beginning to love, however, is things can happen quickly here ifyou want them to. By the end of my first week, I had scheduled a building walkthrough with a lighting retrofit company. We will meet next week to discuss thereplacement of all the old light bulbs with HQEE (high quality, energyefficient) bulbs. The initial estimated cost of this project falls around$240,000. Government incentives will take care of 50 percent of the total,bringing the investment down to $120,000. Based on the number of bulbs in thebuilding (over 700), that would make for annual energy savings of $116,000,giving this project a payback period of just one year.

2) HVAC:I think the estranged Dr. Evil put it best when he said, "It's frickin'freezing in here, Mr. Bigglesworth" The building is extremely cold, whichis probably costing a pretty penny in a New York City summer. I've spoken withthe HVAC foreman about increasing some of the temperatures so that the plantisn't so cold, especially when people are not at work. Turning each A/C unit upjust one degree in a building this size could have a monumental effect on thebuilding's energy consumption and result in some dramatic cost savings.

eBay

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Megan Rast is pursuing her MBA at University ofCalifornia, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and currently interning witheBay. The first couple of weeks for Rast highlighted the challenge of defininga business case for energy efficiency and carbon reduction initiatives. Her bigquestion: Does the Software Side of Energy Efficiency Signal the Next Wave ofStartups? After attending an event hosted by MIT/Stanford Venture Lab, sheobserves:

"Unlike other investments towards aclean energy economy, energy efficiency is ready for mass commercialization asthe least expensive and the most readily scalable solution, according to an expertreport released by the United Nations Foundation. After attending the EDFClimate Corps training in San Francisco last month, I was already quitefamiliar with the opportunities of energy efficiency. I attended last week’sevent expecting to gain a broader perspective of the space, but I could nothave imagined the sheer energy (pardon my pun) circulating the event – thepromise of energy efficiency was downright tangible."

RBS/CitizensBank

Stuart DeCew is a joint degree MBA/MEM candidate atYale School of Management and Yale School of Forestry & EnvironmentalStudies. He is working with Citizens Bank in New York this summer andhas had quite an experience already, realizing that--despite the bank'schampioning of sustainability--there is always more that can be done.

"One of the first conversations I hadat RBS/Citizens was with the head building engineer at the facility inStamford. He had been designing and making the business case for implementingefficiency projects for over a decade. A quick cup of coffee with him made twothings very clear: 1) Even a LEED gold certified building has room to improve;and 2) I will have no shortage of work this summer."

DeCew had another tip to offer: Attach numbers toyour hard work and it instantly becomes a stronger case. "Simply put,better data on an investment means a stronger case. With these numbers,RBS/Citizens will have the necessary information to determine exactly howfuture capital expenditures could reduce the operating expenses of a buildingand give the company a competitive advantage."

PepsiCo

And finally we heard from Peter Petropoulos, an MBAcandidate with the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, who isinterning with PepsiCo. Like DeCew, Petropoulos' challenge has been building onan already-impressive bucket of sustainability initiatives.

"I've spent the last two weeks at one ofPepsiCo's facilities in Dallas where my charge for the summer has been amouthful to say the least. I've been asked to identify the minimum standardsfor LEED certification, perform a gap analysis between the facility andcertification, and develop a project road map including costs and ROI. There isno doubt that PepsiCo is a sustainability leader in the corporate world.Walking into PepsiCo for the first time and realizing that its LEED Goldcertified headquarters is just up the street from my project was a bitintimidating for a student searching for environmental opportunities. Luckily,I realized early on that the company's internal experts would be some of mymost important resources."

Read their complete posts by going to In Good Company's index. Anddon't forget to weigh in by leaving a comment or connecting on Twitter @VaultCSR!

Filed Under: CSR

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