The Intern Diary: LEEDing the Way at PepsiCo

by Aman Singh Das | July 07, 2010

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On my way home from the EDF Climate Corps training inMay, I found myself just trying to grasp the sheer capacity of the network Ihad just joined. This year, EDF Climate Corps has sent 51 MBA students from top business schools, toleading companies across the country where they are spending their summerfinding ways to improve business practices through energy efficiency solutions.In the heat of the moment, I wrote soon after about my experience at the training and my anticipationfor the summer as an EDF Climate Corps fellow at PepsiCo. That moment seems like history now.

The EDFClimate Corps Internship connects MBA students with companies on want to focuson becoming more sustainable in their operations by focusing on energyefficiency solutions. Megan Rast is part of their 2010 class

I've spent the last two weeks at one of PepsiCo'sfacilities in Dallas where my charge for the summer has been a mouthful to saythe least. I've been asked to identify the minimum standards for LEEDcertification, perform a gap analysis between the facility and certification,and develop a project road map including costs and ROI.

There is no 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.

I have been attending productive meetings withfacilities managers, LEED APs and engineers—where they all presented ideas onhow to best investigate our energy-saving opportunities.

I began by studyingthe five areas of LEED certification:

1) Sustainable design
2) Energy efficiency
3) Water use
4) Air quality
5) Material and resource policies

No one person is likely to be an expert in allthese disciplines, as they naturally fall into different areas ofresponsibility across departments of the company. As a result, there is a realneed for a uniting entity to create synergy between these areas. Again, we seethe value add of the EDF Climate Corps program. Who better to break throughthese silos than a tireless MBA student from outside the company hierarchy?

When not in meetings, I go where any Chicago BoothMBA student would—to the numbers. I hunted down all the available utilitybills and compiled data for the facility's electricity, natural gas and waterusage. I then used the Energy Star website to compare this facility toothers in the same class and climate. Many facility staff believed that thebuilding was far from LEED energy standards. Using these numbers, my analysisdebunked that myth. We now know exactly where the building ranks today and thelevel of improvement it needs to reach. After all, you can't managewhat you don't measure.

My next steps are to assess the different areas ofthe LEED certification rating system and evaluate PepsiCo for any potentialgaps that may exist. I also plan to obtain cost estimates for needed upgradesfrom vendors and add up the return on these investments.

I'm now hoping that at the end of the summer I willfind a few other EDF Climate Corps fellows that would be willing to form astudy group for the LEED AP exam. Any takers?

--By Peter Petropoulos, EDFClimate Corps fellow at PepsiCo, MBA candidate at Booth School of Business, University ofChicago, Memberof NetImpact

Thisis the fourth post in a series of blogs that In Good Companywill host this summer in collaborationwith EDF, featuring fellows from their 2010 Climate Corps class, as theyjourney through their internships. With their posts, these interns will give usa rare lens into the behind-the-scenes operations at companies who areproactively discussing corporate sustainability, one conversation at a time.See below for other posts from The Intern Diary.

The Intern Diary: Reporting From RBS/Citizens Financial Group on LEED & EnergyEfficiency

The Intern Diary: Does the Software Side of Energy Efficiency Signal The NextWave of Startups?

The Intern Diary: EDF Climate Corps Fellow Begins Search for Energy Savings atNews Corp

Filed Under: CSR

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