Catawba College will host an Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Climate Corps Public Sector fellow this summer who is specially trained to identify areas where the college can save energy and money.
Carrie Gonnella, a candidate for a master of environmental management degree in the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, will work with Catawba's facilities management staff to develop a custom energy efficiency plan for the college.
"We are delighted to have an EDF fellow working with us this summer," says Catawba Interim President Joseph Oxendine. "Carrie's work on our campus demonstrates our continued commitment to reduce global warming emissions. It is consistent with all the steps the college has taken in recent years to lessen our environmental footprint."
In 2007, Catawba joined nearly 300 other colleges and universities nationwide in supporting the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment. Participating institutions of higher education agreed to "exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to minimize global warming emissions and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality."
John Wear, director of the college's Center for the Environment, notes that Carrie's work will be an important part of the Presidents' Climate Commitment. "The committee that is charged with developing Catawba's Climate Commitment Plan is made up of people from all areas of the college – administration, faculty, staff and students. It includes facilities, finance, academics, all areas that require energy," he says. "So that team will be working closely with Carrie to come up with ways we can develop both a short-term and long-term blueprint for the college's energy use."
Gonnella, a native of Fayetteville, N.Y., is also a candidate for a master of business administration degree from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. She holds a bachelor of science degree from the Cornell University College of Human Ecology.
She currently serves as a Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce fellow, tracking existing and emerging regional and national laws governing firm and product sustainability. She has taught math in Durham and East Palo Alto, Calif., and served as a corps member in the Teach for America program.
By participating in EDF Climate Corps Public Sector, Catawba will receive a blueprint that identifies short-term and long-term ways to save energy and thus reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Climate Corps fellows, trained by EDF in the leading energy efficiency technologies and practices, also document how to use immediate savings to pay for energy efficiency upgrades.
For example, two fellows assigned to North Carolina Central University in Durham last summer identified ways the campus could cut energy costs by more than $2.6 million annually – a dramatic 64 percent reduction. What's more, the EDF fellows identified how the university could recover its upfront energy investment in only two years.
In the first two years of the program, EDF fellows have identified projects that can reduce energy use by 46 percent; save more than $15 million in energy costs in five years; cut more than 54 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year – enough to power 5,000 homes; and reduce more than 30,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the equivalent of taking more than 5,000 SUVs off the road.
Launched in North Carolina in 2009, EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is placing fellows on 13 campuses this summer. Hosts include public and private campuses and minority-serving institutions in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Washington, D.C.
EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is an offshoot of EDF Climate Corps, which began in 2007 to place top-tier MBA students in the nation's leading companies. The program's rapid success in the corporate world led EDF to expand its work to the public sector.
In addition to universities, EDF Climate Corps Public Sector works with municipalities and houses of worship. In summer 2011, EDF will place fellows in Asheville, Raleigh, Atlanta, the City of New York Housing Authority and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, among others.
"EDF Climate Corps Public Sector is part of our commitment to increasing diversity in environmental leadership and reducing energy usage," said Michael Regan, EDF energy efficiency director. "For young people looking to change the world not tomorrow but right now, EDF provides a remarkable opportunity."
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. www.edfclimatecorps.org/public
The Center for the Environment at Catawba College was founded in 1996 to provide education and outreach centered on prevalent environmental challenges and to foster community-oriented sustainable solutions that can serve as a model for programs throughout the country. For more on the Center and its Campaign for Clean Air, visit www.centerfortheenvironment.org and www.campaignforcleanair.org. ;