MBA students find $13.3 million in energy savings during fellowships

September 21, 2010

University Park, Pa. – Ryan Mallett and Rama Murugan, second-year MBA students at the Penn State Smeal College of Business, spent their summers as Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellows and identified more than $13.3 million in energy savings for their host companies.

Mallett identified energy conservation projects at Verizon that could save the company $9.16 million and avoid more than 8,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the course of the projects. Murugan spent her summer at CA Technologies and helped to identify projects that would have a net savings of about $4.15 million and reduce carbon emissions by 1,710 metric tons.

The Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellowship program places specially trained MBA students at leading companies to search out energy savings. In total, the 2010 Climate Corps fellows uncovered energy efficiency opportunities that represent net operating savings of more than $350 million and over 400,000 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Both Mallett and Murugan are members of Penn State Net Impact, a Smeal MBA student organization focusing on the business case for corporate social responsibility and sustainable growth by hosting guest speakers, workshops, field trips, and other collaborative learning initiatives. The group also works with the University on various projects to further Penn State's commitment to sustainable operations.

Mallett analyzed a range of energy efficiency improvements during his summer at Verizon. He worked on the installation of a thermal ice storage system at the company's Manhattan headquarters, which can deliver an estimated annual savings of $420,000 as the result of reduced peak demand charges and improved efficiency.

In Verizon's data centers, he analyzed the installation of variable frequency drive fans that dynamically respond to changes in air temperature and allow facility managers to shut down excess cooling equipment without sacrificing reliability. Along with other airflow measures, this project has the potential to deliver annual savings of more than $475,000. Finally, Mallett evaluated lighting retrofits at Verizon's corporate headquarters and a network data center that have the potential to save $126,000 annually.

At CA Technologies, Murugan also worked on a variety of sustainability initiatives, including a virtualization and relocation project that has a projected annual savings of $1.24 million and a payback period of less than one year. She also assisted the company on various low-cost and no-cost lighting projects that could save $150,000 annually.

The Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellowship program started three years ago with seven MBA fellows. It grew to 26 fellows in 2009—including recent Smeal MBA graduate Chris Anderson—and to 51 fellows this past summer. Over this three-year period, the fellows have uncovered efficiencies in lighting, computer equipment and heating and cooling systems that can avoid 557,000 metric tons in annual carbon emissions—equivalent to taking 86,000 SUVs off the road—and cut the equivalent of 958 million kilowatt hours of energy use per year—enough to power 85,000 homes. These energy initiatives could save participating companies a total of $439 million over the project lifetimes. To date, projects accounting for 84 percent of the energy savings identified by 2008 and 2009 fellows are either complete or under way.

For more information on EDF Climate Corps, visit


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Last Updated September 28, 2010