Thursday, October 28, 2010

2020 Vision for a Sustainable Decade


Today, Thursday, 10/28, is the big day—the day when the largest-ever contingent of Kelley MBA students treks to the national Net Impact conference (2010.netimpact.org). Net Impact is a national organization with local chapters, including Kelley, whose mission is to “inspire, educate, and equip individuals to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.” In short, Net Impact is for students and professionals who want to do well in business (or non-profits, government) but also do some good. MBA students form the core of the membership ranks, and speaking as a member of the Kelley MBA Net Impact leadership team, we’ve worked hard to raise the profile of Kelley as a place where MBAs looking for more than just a paycheck are adequately supported.

This is a special year for Kelley Net Impact because the national conference is a) within driving distance, in Ann Arbor (about 6 hours away), and b) not happening during 1st year Case Comp week. I wrangled a couple of school vans and got a group hotel rate to make it easier for students to attend—and we don’t even have to miss any classes. The combined result: 19 MBA students (and 3 Kelley undergrads) are going to the conference.

So many educational panels and seminars are being offered this year that it’s really hard to decide which ones to attend. (To make it a little easier, each is separated into one of eight themed tracks.) And while this is typically more of a networking and education event than a recruiting event, I was surprised to learn that companies at the conference are looking to fill over 150 jobs, ranging from big employers like Deloitte and DuPont to non-profits like KIPP Foundation and the National Park Service. Note to self: pack business cards and resumes.

We’ll be sending out tweets from the conference and updating this blog with perspectives from other Kelley MBA attendees during and after the event, so stay tuned.

Guest blog entry by: Karim U. Khan, 2011 Kelley MBA Candidate

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Net Impact, Environmental Defense Fund, and The Kelley School

The Kelley School of Business has a long history with the international nonprofit, Net Impact. Kelley MBA, Nirupam Khanna, interned this summer at Alcatel-Lucent with the Environmental Defense Fund/Net Impact as a Climate Corps Fellow. As two dozen KSB students depart for the annual Net Impact conference on Oct. 28, here is a guest blog from Nirupam, the Kelley School's first Climate Corps fellow.

Climate Corps fellow at Alcatel-Lucent saw the light…and recommended solar films | September 22, 2010 | Posted by Climate Corps Fellow in EDF Climate Corps, By: Nirupam Khanna

The fact that you are reading this blog online is a testament to how my host company, Alcatel-Lucent, has impacted the way you and I behave on a daily basis. Little did I know, on the last day of my EDF Climate Corps training that I was on my way to becoming a champion of energy efficiency at a place so steeped in history.

With numerous inventions and Nobel Laureates, the Alcatel-Lucent (Bell Labs) headquarters in New Jersey houses a jaw-dropping, two million square-foot space lined with labs. To date, I had only seen such a place in sci-fi movies. The vast areas of office spaces with little nuggets of history everywhere represented a great challenge for me.

With large projects such as a cogeneration plant and solar plants already in the pipeline, the opportunity for uncovering low-hanging fruit was quickly ticked off my list, as most of them had already been implemented by the facilities team. Nonetheless, this 60-year-old building presented some unique opportunities.

After snooping around the building and seeking opinions from everyone I spoke to, I stumbled upon over-lit areas and no sensory monitors to shut lights off when they weren’t being used. Talking to vendors and contractors, researching best practices and tapping into EDF’s rich information-support system, I was able to find logical solutions for these issues.

After losing my way one too many times in this huge maze of a building, I resorted to asking directions from co-workers to get back to my cubicle. Though at first I was embarrassed, I realized many of the people giving me directions were just as unsure as I was about whether or not they were guiding me the right way. This lack of directional clarity came with a silver lining though, because it often forced me to discover new areas in the facility and, consequently, new energy efficiency opportunities.

For instance, wandering through corridors where the sun’s hot rays would stream in and battle against the air conditioner’s attempt to cool the facility triggered an idea for solar films in parts of the building. These solar films could lead to substantial savings for the HVAC system in the building, resulting in savings of thousands of dollars per year. In addition to clear financial benefits, solar films have a couple other fantastic advantages:

1.Solar films can reject up to 60% of the solar heat coming in through the windows during summer, in some cases helping to retain heat within the building during winters.
2.Solar films can also keep the harmful UV rays out, protecting employees and preventing sun damage within the building.
Putting these proposals on paper with financial models and clear numbers proved that reduction in operating costs and carbon footprint will help the organization expedite these solar film projects, giving it a needed competitive edge.

For a building as diverse as this, its energy density varies greatly. All office spaces and labs have specific air condition requirements and power consumption levels. In collaborating with various stake holders and experts, my biggest challenge has been to get everyone on the same page while simultaneously figuring out the best strategies to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

As an EDF Climate Corps fellow at Alcatel-Lucent, everyday leads to a new discovery – taking me to new parts of the facility and unraveling new opportunities. Furthermore, the direct descendant of the apple tree from which Newton got his inspiration stands right outside this building, inspiring me to find realistic solutions for the people here at Alcatel-Lucent.