Darden Student Builds Career in the New Energy Economy

June 21, 2010 — D. Matthew Coleman, a rising second-year student at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, has an internship this summer at one of America's most innovative companies.

Through the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program, he is one of 51 fellows selected from among a pool of more than 200 applicants to receive training from the EDF that enables them to identify energy-saving opportunities to cut carbon pollution and boost the bottom line at the companies where they intern. Coleman is working at Fortune 1000 company CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., to help the company identify energy efficiencies and save money. (Read his blog about his first day on the job).

The Environmental Defense Fund started the Climate Corps program in 2008 to help large, market-leading companies realize energy, carbon and cost-saving strategies by putting the nation's top MBA students to work for them. EDF selects, trains and embeds these students in the companies through diverse sectors, where these fellows then work with management teams to identify areas in operations and the supply chain that can benefit from energy-saving reductions. 

Climate Corps reports that it has delivered impressive results to date. In the first two years of the program, fellows identified improvements in lighting, computer equipment, and heating and cooling systems that can:

•    Save $89 million in net operating costs over the project lifetimes;
•    Cut the equivalent of 280 million kilowatt hours of energy use per year – enough to power 24,000 homes;
•    Avoid more than 157,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year – equivalent to taking more than 19,000 SUVs off the road.

Darden recently asked Coleman about his internship at CSX. Here is a brief Q&A:

Darden: How did you hear about this opportunity?

Coleman: I learned about the Environmental Defense Fund's Climate Corps program via my membership in Darden's chapter of Net Impact (http://edfclimatecorps.org/). I am one of 51 Climate Corps Fellows deployed at various host companies across the U.S.

Darden: Why did you decide to participate in Climate Corps?

Coleman: I am pursuing a career in weather and climate risk management. My previous work experience and academic training provided me with excellent experience in managing short-term weather risk in reinsurance and energy trading. My work as a Climate Corps Fellow, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to manage long-term climate risk: in this case, as an energy efficiency analyst for CSX Corporation in Jacksonville, Fla.

Darden: What is your job function?

Coleman: This summer, I am helping CSX identify, quantify and prioritize energy efficiency retrofits for its office buildings and rail yards to reduce the company's energy use. My goal is to identify projects that simultaneously save CSX money and reduce emissions. EDF will then aggregate the findings of all Climate Corps Fellows and follow up with each host institution (including CSX) regarding the implementation of the fellows' recommendations.