Cal intern helps eBay save more energy

Cal intern helps eBay save more energy
December 11, 2010 1:46:25 PM PST
A young intern from Cal is one of a select group nationwide helping fortune 1,000 companies increase their corporate social responsibility, specifically when it comes to the environment. EBay is one Bay Area company that was given some insight on how to save energy and money.

Although considered quite efficient, these massive data storage centers at eBay's San Jose campus -- along with more simple technologies like computers or light bulbs -- all demand electricity, but then there are those passionately trying to identify how to save any possible fraction of a kilowatt.

Megan Rast, eBay Climate Corps fellow and UC Berkeley Haas School of Business student says, "I think the big picture is what inspires you, but on the day-to-day it can be you know switching a light bulb, and it can be sort of drops in the bucket that you that the impact that you can have."

Rast is one of 51 specially-trained MBA students who this year helped uncover significant energy-saving opportunities at fortune 1,000 companies around the country. She was selected to intern at eBay through the Climate Corps program. It's a program launched three years ago by the non-profit Environmental Defense Fund to combat climate change through corporate social responsibility.

"We know and businesses know that their buildings cost a lot of money, and it's operating their buildings where we can find energy efficiencies and save them money, and then also reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says Sitar Mody, a climate corps project manager from the Environmental Defense Fund.

As a Climate Corp fellow, Rast had quite a challenge uncovering dollar and carbon savings at eBay during her 10-week stint there. That is because is already highly-focused on sustainability.

The San Jose campus for example, already fulfills a third of its energy needs from solar panels, plus Bloom Energy boxes -- an alternative fuel cell source -- and one entire building is Leed Gold certified.

"For us I think we've done a lot to green our operations, but it's always great to get somebody else in from an external perspective to you know really be figuring out where we could be doing more," says Lorin May, an eBay senior manager of environment programs.

Rast used her sustainability expertise to identify and recommend four energy efficiency initiatives in the areas of lighting upgrades and computer power management.

"They hadn't deployed yet a computer power management software, which means that you can have a power saving setting," says Rast.

These power saving settings can help save electricity; and apparently so can replacing all computers after three years and upgrading the windows operating software. Calculations indicate that if fully implemented, these energy efficiency projects could result in $1.5 million cost savings and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 5,000 metric tons in just over a year.

EBay recognizes this can make a positive impact on the environment and the bottom line.

"We kind of always talk about small actions adding up to a big difference when you think about our 15,000 employees," says May.

This is a program that is continuing so there will be many more companies who will benefit by saving energy and money next year.


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