A Motivated and Intelligent Person with Undivided Attention? Yes, Please.

30 May 2013 | John Schulz

Tagged: Planet,

Never underestimate the value of focused attention.  You know, the time when you can clear your brain of the clutter and noise and really focus on making progress. 

It’s a rare beast in our busy lives; there are so many competing priorities that even important efforts can get lost.  So, while there are many benefits to the Climate Corps program from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), I’d suggest that the greatest benefit comes from getting 10 weeks of the undivided attention of an MBA student who is experienced, motivated and just downright smart. 

That’s why AT&T is engaging with EDF for the 4th year in a row, sponsoring three Climate Corps fellows this summer, two for our own initiatives and one for the Newark Public School system.

Does it really work?

Our first experience with EDF Climate Corps was in the summer of 2010.  Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect, so we had relatively muted expectations.  What could we really expect an outsider to accomplish in 10 weeks?  A lot, as it turns out. 

If our experience with the EDF Climate Corps program has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect great things from smart people giving their undivided attention.

That August, when the program ended, we had the fundamental underpinning of a lighting sensor program that has blossomed into a multi-million dollar savings initiative in the years since.  In those short weeks, our EDF Climate Corps fellow had taken a concept, dug into volumes of data, engaged internal experts and distributed teams, run the financials, evaluated technology, and produced a set of plans to get the concept funded and engaged. 

Not bad for a summer job. 

So we have been re-upping every year since, hitting diverse topics such as Free Air Cooling, Energy Data Dashboard systems and water efficiency in cooling systems. 

These are complicated efforts and each year we walk away with actionable results.  This year, we’ve engaged again, focusing on the implementation of our national Free Air Cooling program and developing robust outreach programs to spread the word about the water savings potential of our work with EDF on water efficiency in the cooling process.

This time, our expectations aren’t so muted.  We are confident that we will get a fantastic return on our investment.

Expanding the benefit

We’re also trying something new this year: AT&T is sponsoring an EDF Climate Corps fellow who will be working with the Newark Public School System to drive energy efficiency into their extensive operations of over 70 schools serving more than 37,000 students.  This effort aligns with our company’s investment in education through AT&T Aspire – a $350 million commitment focused on helping more students graduate from high school ready for college and careers.

We are confident that the focused attention of the EDF Climate Corps fellow will generate meaningful energy and environmental benefits for the schools.   And while the idea of corporations supporting schools isn’t new, we’re hopeful that this type of program offers a new perspective on the ways in which communities can help support improvements in our education system.

More energy efficient buildings reduce energy spending, which could lead to increased budget for other critical school programs.  We’re hopeful that these efficiency efforts can not only improve the energy and environmental performance of those schools, but also stimulate improvements in those schools more broadly.  If our experience with the EDF Climate Corps program has taught us anything, it’s that we should expect great things from smart people giving their undivided attention.

This post originally appeared on the AT&T Consumer Blog.

About the Author

John Schulz

Director of Sustainability Operations


John Schulz is a Director of Sustainability Operations at AT&T, focused on embedding sustainability into AT&T’s operations, products and services while positioning Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an important sustainability solution.

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