Buildings are responsible for about 40 percent of our nation’s energy use as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency in commercial buildings needs to be one of the top green building priorities in the United States, and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is helping businesses with their energy efficiency endeavors with the Climate Corps program. The EDF recently announced that the program is accepting new applications.

The Climate Corps program is in its third year. The EDF works with businesses and MBA students. The students are then tasked with creating an energy efficiency plan for their host company. These plans need to be actionable so that the companies can immediately benefit from the program.

Although the program was just announced late last week, there are already 20 corporations signed up including several that have participated in Climate Corps before: eBay, Genzyme, Savvis, SunGard and Yahoo!. First time participants include Bloomberg, Carnival Cruise Lines, McDonald’s, PG&E, Staples, Target and Verizon. Imagine if every Target location across the nation was even 15 percent more energy-efficient at the end of the program; that would lead to some significant reductions in energy consumption.

Although the Climate Corps program is only beginning its third year, the results are already impressive. In 2009, 26 MBA students created plans for participating corporations. Once all of the plans have been completely implemented, the companies will be able to reduce their annual energy usage by 160 million kWh.

Of course creating the energy efficiency plans is just the beginning of the process; these plans actually have to be implemented. The EDF shows that of the projects created by the interns that participated in 2008, 97 percent are either in process or have been completed. So not only are these students and corporations getting together to create a plan, these plans are being implemented.

If you’re interested in applying as either an MBA student or a host business, visit the EDF’s Climate Corps website.

Photo: takomabibelot

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