EDF Climate Fellow Jon Beck Spends Summer Vacation Saving GM $1M

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EDF Climate Fellow Jon Beck Spends Summer Vacation Saving GM $1M

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Jon Beck, GM’s Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps intern.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 - 11:00am

CAMPAIGN: GM Energy Efficiency


College kids do different things during summer break.

Some work. Others play.

Others help a Fortune 100 company save $1M through various energy-saving projects.

Jon Beck, a Portland native and Columbia University grad student, spent the last few months identifying ways in which we could save money through energy. The internship match-up is a result of GM’s participation in the Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps program.

We were among 106 businesses, cities and schools who hired a specially trained student to work closely to analyze operations and provide insight on energy management. The goal: seize the financial and environmental rewards of energy efficiency, while implementing practices that deliver lasting results.

This fresh perspective aligns with our belief that sustainability progress is strengthened through collaboration and stakeholder engagement. In our ongoing journey to increase energy efficiency and drive carbon reduction throughout our facilities, it’s beneficial to tap outside voices like Jon’s.

Here we talk to Jon about his experience.

Why did this EDF Climate Corp project intrigue you?

I joined EDF Climate Corps to do energy efficiency work in a large industrial setting as opposed to an academic setting or at a start-up. I jumped on this opportunity to practice things I’ve done in coursework, working with a large organization to improve and optimize their behaviors.

What was your impression before and after this fellowship?

My ideas about manufacturing and the auto industry really changed when I saw firsthand all that’s being done to make efficient vehicles more efficiently. I was surprised by the willingness to change to meet sustainability goals and be environmentally responsible. It was motivating to be around driven colleagues that are not just technical, but constantly think about the broader effect of their work.

What did you set out to do?

I worked on paint shop energy reduction, saving costs and reducing carbon. Did you know that nearly three quarters of the energy required to put a car together is in the painting? My job was to help influence the sustainable design of a new painting facility that would increase its efficiency.

Did you tackle any challenges?

The hardest part is ensuring my energy optimization recommendations didn’t interfere with the facility’s production schedule.

What was your big takeaway?

For best results, it’s important to practice pitching technical ideas to a broad audience that understands the engineering and organizational concerns that exist within a corporate structure.

Keywords: Energy | Environment | Environmental Defense Fund | Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps | General Motors | Jon Beck | energy savings | summer | sustainability

CAMPAIGN: GM Energy Efficiency