Category: Energy & Environment Sector

Boston University School of Management 3rd in US on List of “Green” MBA Programs

September 23rd, 2013 in Energy & Environment Sector, News, Press Release, School

SMG ranked 11th in the world by Corporate Knights

Boston University School of Management’s MBA program placed 3rd among U.S. universities on the Corporate Knights Global Green MBA survey, which examines how universities around the world are faring at integrating sustainability into the academic experience. The School ranked 11th globally.

The Toronto-based business magazine, which focuses on clean capitalism, created the survey in 2003, concentrating solely on Canadian schools for the past decade. This year, the survey was expanded internationally to include MBA programs from 17 countries. Participating schools were assessed on institutional support, student initiatives, and coursework.

The School’s MBA program has incorporated various courses in its curriculum that emphasize sustainability, such as PL849: Global Sustainability, PL870: Government, Society and Sustainable Development, and SI841: Strategies for Environmental Sustainability.

Corporate Knights’ results also come only months after an MBA team from the School won first place in the P&G Sustainability Challenge, which required eight multidisciplinary teams from across the University to create and present ideas to a panel of managers from P&G, Gillette, Veolia, and NSTAR that might aid P&G in their efforts to increase their renewable energy consumption at the South Boston Gillette site.

The survey’s findings are indicative of the School’s dedication to implementing environmental responsibility and sustainability in all aspects of its educational process.

See the full survey and analysis of the 2013 Global Green MBA Survey here.

BU Named One of Most Environmentally Responsible Colleges by Princeton Review

May 31st, 2013 in Energy & Environment Sector, News, Social Impact

Guide to 322 Green Colleges praises sustainability office, student organizations, and sustainability-related courses

Excerpts from Bostonia:

Boston University is one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the United States and Canada, according to the new edition of The Princeton Reviews Guide to 322 Green Colleges.

“In a few short years Boston University has made significant strides toward a sustainable future,” the authors write in the guide. “With its sustainability committee, four working groups, sustainability office, a one million dollar revolving fund, departments, student organizations, and nearly 400 courses related to sustainability, the university has developed an impressive sustainability program by any measure.”

The Princeton Review took note of BU’s green buildings and transportation and also drew attention to its retrofitting of existing buildings for energy efficiency through equipment, lighting and energy management systems, and window replacement projects.

In its section on Boston University, The Princeton Review wrote, “In 2011, BU became a member of the Founding Circle of the ‘Billion Dollar Green Challenge.’ Buildings currently under construction will seek LEED certification or better, and there are already two LEED-certified buildings on campus. BU has increased its waste-diversion rate from four percent to 31 percent. Ninety-two percent of students arrive to campus by alternative means. The main campus is organized along one of Boston’s main thoroughfares, with nine subway stops, thirteen intercity bus lines, the BU Bus, and three other shuttle services serving the campuses. BU has an active ride share program and boasts the first bike lanes in Boston’s growing network, which now incorporates more than 100 miles of city streets and parks.

“Other highlights include an award-winning website to engage the university community with a monthly sustainability challenge. To keep up the green pace, there are seventeen sustainable student organizations on campus, from BU Bikes to USGBC Students. BU’s green initiatives even extend to the university’s myriad dining halls. Efforts include 91 percent of the facilities running pre-consumer composting programs, sourcing cage-free eggs, and donating leftover baked goods to local meal programs, food pantries, and shelters.”

“Colleges train the next generation of leaders who will ultimately be responsible for putting green ideas into practice,” the authors note. “By infusing sustainability principles into every aspect of higher education, there is a new priority for a whole generation of leaders, educated and trained, to make a greener world now.”

Read the full article in Bostonia.

Photo via BU Today

BU Team Soars at MIT Clean Energy Competition

May 10th, 2013 in Case Competition, Energy & Environment Sector, Entrepreneurship, Graduate Students, News, School, Students

Team Wins First Prize in Energy Efficiency Category

By Mark Dwortzan via BU College of Engineering

A College of Engineering and School of Management team took first prize in the energy efficiency category of the annual MIT Clean Energy Prize on May 6, one of six premiere regional clean energy student business plan competitions in the U.S.

A collaboration between students and faculty from ENG and SMG, the team, Aeolus Building Efficiency, won $20,000 for its business plan and presentation for a full-service company that utilizes software to optimize airflow and reduce energy consumption in large office heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems. The technology could be a game-changer for today’s commercial buildings, which account for 18 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions and 36 percent of national electric utility demand.

Consisting of ENG’s senior Ryan Cruz, Associate Professor Michael Gevelber, and former Professor Donald Wroblewski from the Mechanical Engineering Department, and MBA candidates David Cushman, Jonathan Ellermann, and Benjamin Smith from SMG, Aeolus outperformed 15 other teams from nine states, including three semifinalists representing Harvard University, MIT, and the University of Chicago.

Aeolus drew on ENG members’ expertise in building energy efficiency and HVAC systems optimization, and SMG members’ business development, operations, project management and sustainability experience. The team’s presentation impressed a panel of six judges from academia, government and industry who based their assessments on environmental benefit, creativity, execution and financial strategy, market and customer knowledge, and team strength.

Benjamin Smith (MBA’13) relished the opportunity to compete against outstanding teams and technologies from some of the nation’s top academic institutions. “Not only were we able to develop a comprehensive and compelling business plan, but the competition gave us an opportunity to substantiate that plan with cleantech industry leaders,” he observed. “It was an amazing experience.”

Taking part in the competition reinforced Ryan Cruz’s (ME’13) aspiration to pursue a career in the energy efficiency field. “I was able to learn more about the business side of engineering and aspects of building energy efficiency that I would not have normally been exposed to in the classroom,” he said.

“It was a great learning experience for all the team members, and we’re proud to get BU’s name recognized at such a highly competitive event,” said Gevelber (ME, MSE, SE).  ”We also had great mentoring from other BU faculty in both schools, and received support from BU’s Office of Technology Development, Institute for Technology, Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC) and Sustainable Neighborhood Lab.”

HVAC systems account for a large portion of energy use in mid- to large-sized buildings, and energy use and cost scales strongly with airflow. This is particularly true in older buildings designed when energy was much cheaper and HVAC systems were designed with high air flow rates. Based on concepts developed by Paul Gallagher (ME, MS’13) in his master’s thesis, Aeolus aims to commercialize its software-based service that enables room-by-room measurement and optimization of airflow rates, thereby reducing energy consumption while maintaining thermal comfort and meeting ventilation requirements.

Invented by Gevelber, Wroblewski, and Gallagher and now being patented by BU, the breakthrough technology uses existing, computer-based building automation systems to reduce large building HVAC energy consumption by up to 20 percent without equipment installation, intensive manual labor or long payback periods.

“What’s amazing about our approach is that the system would take the same time to work on a building the size of Sargent College as it would for the Prudential Center,” Gevelber explained.

Formed in 2007 to help develop a new generation of energy entrepreneurs and companies and sponsored by NSTAR and the U.S. Department of Energy, the MIT Clean Energy Prize offers awards in three categories—renewable energy, infrastructure and resources, and energy efficiency.  The competition’s $20,000 Energy Efficiency Track Prize is sponsored by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which seeks to accelerate the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts.

Pictured above is Team Aeolus Building Efficiency: Professor Michael Gevelber (ME, MSE, SE), David Cushman (MBA’14), Jonathan Ellermann (MBA’13), Ryan Cruz (ME’13), and Benjamin Smith (MBA’13) with $20,000 Energy Efficiency Track Prize. (A sixth Aeolus team member, former Professor Donald Wroblewski (ME) was unavailable for the photo.)

MBA Team Wins First Place in P&G Sustainability Challenge

April 30th, 2013 in Case Competition, Energy & Environment Sector, Graduate Students, News, School

BU competition featured eight multidisciplinary teams of undergraduates and graduates; first place team will go on to present ideas to Gillette’s top managers

By Gilberto Millares (IMBA’13) from the BU MBA Student Life blog

Some of Procter & Gamble’s sustainability goals for the future include completely eliminating the waste they currently generate, using only renewable energy in all their facilities, and having environmentally-friendly products and packages. As you might guess, such endeavors present an extremely difficult challenge for a global company, so they are constantly looking for ways to make marginal or disruptive changes in their operations that allow them to be closer to achieving these goals. One of the ways they’re doing this is by sponsoring the P&G Gillette Sustainability Challenge, which brings together multidisciplinary teams from different Boston University schools and colleges and challenges them to come up with ideas that might be applied in P&G operations.

On April 12, eight teams consisting of undergraduate and graduate students from programs including engineering, public policy, biomedical engineering, and management had the opportunity to showcase their findings to a group of managers from P&G Gillette, Veolia, and NSTAR. We presented different ideas that would allow P&G to increase their renewable energy consumption at the South Boston Gillette site by making a business case for each proposed project.

While the format differed a bit from the standard case competition, the results were just as meaningful. Rather than diving into the project for 48 hours, we were given two weeks to find different approaches to help them achieve their goals. And even though it might sound like more than sufficient lead time, we had to fit several seminars into our busy schedules to learn about energy projects throughout the country and the world, research technologies that are being implemented in the industry, and find ways to link business and engineering aspects for each submitted idea—no easy task!

Finally, after all the teams had presented their ideas, we had a small reception as the judges made the final decision. First place was awarded to a team consisting of MBA and IMBA students (pictured above), as well as LEAP, mechanical engineering, and public policy students, who will now have the opportunity to present their pitch to a group of Gillette’s top managers. However, I think the most rewarding aspect of the competition was working with a truly diverse group of people that mimics the diversity and complexities of the business world.

Pictured: The winning team of MBA and IMBA students with the panel of judges from P&G Gillette, Veolia, and NSTAR. Group photo courtesy of the BU MBA Student Life blog.

Homepage image via flickr user Pylon757.

Professor N. Kulatilaka: Turning Green into Green

April 12th, 2013 in Emerging Research, Energy & Environment Sector, Faculty in the News, Finance, News, Social Impact

The annual magazine Research at Boston University has profiled the pioneering work and social impact of the School of Management’s Nalin Kulatilaka. In their feature “Considering Community,” they write,

Perhaps it is no wonder that an electrical engineer who became a professor of finance would take an interest in how green buildings can provide monetary benefits for the people who have the resources to fund renewable energy projects….

That’s part of the story of Nalin Kulatilaka, who teaches in the School of Management and is a codirector of the Clean Energy & Environmental Sustainability Initiative.

“My research is on sustainable energy investments,” Kulatilaka says. “From renewable energy sources like solar and wind to energy conservation and energy efficiency investments like building retrofits.”

The thrust of his work is to incentivize the up-front funding for green energy buildings from banks and other sources by writing a new kind of contract for the loans that fuel such changes. The contracts are intended to monetize the savings that green energy can achieve, so that the investors who put up the capital can capture some of the money saved as revenue from the project.

“We are now designing contracts where the building owner and tenant could share the savings.”

Recently, Kulatilaka has worked on buildings owned by the Cambridge Housing Authority in Central Square. Some were heated entirely by electricity, some were particularly leaky, and all lacked the investment capital needed for retrofits.

“My contribution there, with Professor of Earth & Environment Robert Kaufmann and a team of students, was to first assess the opportunity; to try to quantify what the savings would be by using various statistical techniques that analyze the demand patterns of the building,” he says.

“We are now designing contracts where the building owner and the tenant could share the savings. These would occur in such a way that funding could be attracted from conventional—or at least semi-­conventional—sources like large banks.”

Read the full article at Research at Boston University, or see another profile of Professor Kulatilaka’s work on “New Approaches to Funding Social Enterprises.”

K. Fabrizio’s New Study Finds Regulatory Flip-Flops Undermine Clean Energy Investment

November 28th, 2012 in Emerging Research, Energy & Environment Sector, Faculty, News, Strategy & Innovation

“The Impact of Regulatory Uncertainty on Renewable Energy Investments,” forthcoming in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

Policy uncertainty—whether concerning the impending “fiscal cliff” or potential carbon taxes—is blamed for reducing investment and restraining economic growth. Does the same logic apply to investment in renewable energy generation?

In a new study, Boston University School of Management’s Kira Fabrizio finds that uncertainty about future regulatory policies does indeed negatively influence firms’ investments in new clean energy assets. Fabrizio is an assistant professor in strategy & innovation, and her paper, “The Impact of Regulatory Uncertainty on Renewable Energy Investments,” is forthcoming in the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization.

Fabrizio’s study focuses on the enactment of state-level Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) policies in the US electric utility industry. The policies are designed to encourage investment in renewable electricity generation by requiring utilities to procure a certain percentage of electricity from renewable generation. She finds that, on average, “RPS enactment in a state did generate an increase in investment in new renewable generating assets, but investment increased significantly less in states with a history of regulatory reversal,” a mark of an uncertain policy environment.

With important implications for policy makers, the study suggests that government renewable-energy policy initiatives, when launched in less stable regulatory environments, 1) lead firms to perceive new investment in clean energy projects and assets as more risky, and 2) ultimately create fewer new investments in renewable generation assets, undermining the purpose of the policy.

Fabrizio’s research highlights the importance of regulators’ commitment to policy stability and predictability. Her study holds implications not just for renewable energy investment but other initiatives such as carbon tax/abatement policies, where long-lived investments depend on policies subject to future modification.

The study also touches on strategies for enhancing the credibility of RPS regulatory efforts and their perceived stability, thus reducing the apparent risk of renewable energy investment. These include:

  • Regulatory support for investments dependent on renewable energy policies and requirements, whereby regulated utilities could recover the costs of investments in their rates if the value of these investments falls due to policy reversals.
  • Adoption of requirements and procedures making the repeal or renegotiation of RPS policies more arduous.

Whatever strategies regulatory agencies undertake, Fabrizio urges, “Until policy makers are able to enact legislation and credibly commit to maintaining the policy they adopt, firms will be less willing to invest in developing and adopting new technologies.”

Banner image courtesy of flickr user daBinsi

To Save Energy, Call This PEMBA Grad

November 26th, 2012 in Alumni, Alumni Profiles, Energy & Environment Sector, News

Domenic Armano Helps Analyze and Reduce Energy Usage at FirstFuel

Domenic Armano (PEMBA’12) has his dream job in the field of energy efficiency at FirstFuel, a Lexington, Massachusetts-based energy analytics firm, and he attributes much of his success to his Boston University MBA experience.

Armano was running engineering services in the energy services business of the New England region at Johnson Controls (JCI) when he enrolled in the Professional Evening MBA (PEMBA) program at Boston University in 2006. (He took an 18-month leave of absence around the midpoint of his program, and then graduated in 2012.)

In PEMBA, he was a strategy concentrator and took two classes with Finance Professor Nalin Kulatilaka, Wing Tat Lee Family Professor in Management. “One was clean energy finance. The second was a directed study sponsored by JCI. Nalin was one of the people co-founding FirstFuel at the time and introduced me to Swapnil Shah, the CEO.”

When he met Shah, Armano was managing a sizable engineering team at JCI, and thus had numerous people pitching him with products and services.  One of the most persistent, he says, was Shah.

“FirstFuel is a service that identifies the energy efficiency of a large portfolio of thousands of buildings really fast, which you couldn’t do before,” Armano explains. “The ‘old world’ of energy auditing involved going building to building with a clipboard. At JCI, we ended up being one of the first customers, because we saw its benefits.”

Armano says he continually provided insight into the product and how to make it better. He became such a fan, he helped FirstFuel make a sale to another company. “And then I realized: I have to join them. It’s a product I love in an industry I love. It’s a game-changing technology in terms of auditing and identifying energy efficiencies.”

In April, he came in as the tenth employee. Today, he’s director of customer solutions, where he handles the deployment of new sales as well as sale presentations. With only about 40 employees, he wears a lot of hats.

Using just building addresses and electric usage interval data (a meter reading every 15 minutes) and running it through the company’s proprietary algorithms, Armano says, “We know if a structure is heating or cooling too late in the day or if usage is more occupant-related. If it’s weather-related, it’s probably the heating and cooling/ventilation system. If it’s people-related, it’s probably lighting. We pull back layers of the onion and watch how the building responds. Once we know that, our customers can take action.”

Armano says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without this MBA.” In addition to Kulatilaka, he cites influential classes with Executive-in-Residence and Strategy & Innovation Lecturer Paul McManus, and Associate Professor and Dean’s Research Fellow Nitin Joglekar of operations & technology management, as well as numerous conversations with Managing Director of the Office of Technology Development Vinit Nijhawan. “The insights, the connections, and the mentorship from the whole team here were invaluable—I just wish I had done it sooner.”

As part of the FirstFuel leadership team, Armano says his strategy concentration directly comes into play. “It helps me assess a new market or a particular customer. I can better identify the competitive threats and opportunities. It’s changed my thinking to a more regimented focus, and helps me identify the facts that help substantiate decisions. Together that’s really helped me grow as a business leader.”

Kulatilaka says, “Dom was a significant contributor to my course even during his leave of absence from the MBA program. He developed a total of four student projects involving business issues at JCI that greatly helped the experiential learning of our MBA students.  Such projects are an important part of our planned energy and environment sector specialization. He’s a great asset both to the School as an alumnus and as a member of the FirstFuel team.”

Management, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences Collaboration Leads to New Minor in Sustainable Energy

November 8th, 2012 in Energy & Environment Sector, News, School

Includes business, economics, policy, and engineering courses on energy-related issues

Faculty members from Boston University School of Management, College of Engineering, and College of Arts & Sciences have developed a new Minor in Sustainable Energy. Designed to reveal the interdisciplinary nature of energy study, the minor consists of six courses taught by faculty across the three schools.  This is the first program at the University that offers an interdisciplinary practicum to this degree.

The minor, an outgrowth of Boston University’s Clean Energy and Environmental Sustainability Initiative, includes perspectives from business, economics, policy, and engineering to provide students a holistic view of the sustainable energy field. The minor concludes with a hands-on, real-world capstone project, in which students act as consultants to a sponsoring company and apply their learning in engineering, science, and business issues to analyze a problem.

The new minor comes after the School of Management recently evolved its graduate and undergraduate curricula to integrate the three most vital and rapidly growing sectors of the world economy: energy and the environment, digital technology, and health.

“Consistent with SMG’s mission of creating value for the world, students completing this minor will graduate with an understanding of how businesses can proactively and profitably shape the future of energy across the world,” said Paul McManus, Executive-in-Residence and Lecturer in the School of Management’s Strategy & Innovation department, and one of the principal creators of the new minor.

The Minor in Sustainable Energy is open to all students enrolled in a four-year undergraduate program in any School or College at Boston University.

Read more about the curriculum of the minor in Sustainable Energy.

Designing a More Self-Sufficient Solar Panel

September 5th, 2012 in Energy & Environment Sector, Faculty, News, Operations & Technology Management

As companies and homeowners alike look for greener ways to power their homes and businesses, solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular option.

Unfortunately, how much energy a solar panel generates is dependent on how clean the equipment is and it’s not always easy–or cheap–to keep the panels spotless. Both dust and dirt can block sunlight and reduce the amount of energy yielded.

Boston University professors, Malay Mazumder (ECE), Mark Horenstein (ECE), and Nitin Joglekar (SMG), are hoping to solve this problem by designing a more self-sufficient panel that includes a cleaning component that would rely on electrodynamic removal of dust.

“Because cleaning solar collectors with water is expensive in desert conditions, solar plants often operate with dusty panels until water is absolutely necessary,” said Mazumder. “Electrodynamic dust removal would not require water and could be operated as frequently as needed at a miniscule cost.”

The BU professors are now one step closer toward achieving their goal after the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE EERE) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) awarded them grants for their research. The DOE will provide $955,340 for solar mirrors for photothermal energy conversion while MassCEC will give another $40k that will be used toward developing self-cleaning photovoltaic solar panels.

“The solar energy industry is growing at a rate of 33% or better in the U.S., and the renewable energy industry has shown strong growth since 2011,” said Mazumder. “It is very timely that the DOE and Mass CEC would want to invest in this project so that the solar plants can operate at their highest efficiency.”

Mazumder, Horenstein, and Joglekar are engaged in making prototypes that use electric fields to lift and move dust particles across the solar collector and ultimately remove them entirely.

As part of this project, Boston University will partner with Abengoa Solar, who will assist them in developing and testing out the prototype devices in the field. Abengoa is currently installing the world’s largest solar plant in Arizona and is a leader in solar energy technology development. Sandia National Laboratories will also help evaluate the new solar collectors.

Mazumder, the principal investigator on the grant, has been working toward developing an electrodynamic screen for solar panels for nearly 12 years. NASA funded his initial project, which centered around developing self-cleaning panels that could be used in missions to Mars and the moon. He has been working with Abengoa for the last two years and Sandia for one year.

Story by Rachel Harrington via BU Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Net Impact Undergraduate Club Earns Gold Standing

June 29th, 2012 in Energy & Environment Sector, News, School, Student Activities, Students, Undergraduate Students

One of Just Nine Lauded Chapters Across the Nation

Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography

Net Impact held 22 events throughout the year, including an initiative to get students to pledge to reduce their usage of paper cups. The pledges are shown above hanging in the School's atrium. Photo by Cydney Scott via BU Today.

The national headquarters of Net Impact (whose mission is “to mobilize a new generation of students to use their careers to drive transformational change in their workplaces and the world”) announced that the undergraduate chapter at Boston University has achieved Gold Chapter standing, a designation awarded to only nine of 67 undergraduate chapters.

According to Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact, “This is a tremendous achievement. Gold chapters are the most outstanding in the Net Impact network, which includes over 300 chapters around the world. They play an integral role in helping us to provide support, connections, and practical advice to help people in all sectors and job functions create a more just and sustainable future.”

To earn gold, a chapter has to have a higher than normal level of events, they have to send a representative to the national conference, and they need to provide at least one “impact program.” The achievement also reflects strong support from the University and the faculty advisors, she added. Assistant Professor Kira Fabrizio and Executive in Residence and Lecturer Paul McManus (both of strategy & innovation) advise the club.

The Boston University undergraduate chapter, led by president Joe Nangle (BSBA’12), held 22 events to benefit the student body and surrounding community throughout the year. Teaming with Sustainabilty@BU, SMG Student Government, business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and the Starbucks location at SMG, the club got students to pledge to reduce their usage of paper cups, and distributed almost 500 reusable mugs to replace them. They also ran panel discussions on “The Art of Social Entrepreneurship,” and another on “Finance for Good.” The club also ran Sustainability Sundays, informal gatherings where anyone on campus was invited to gather and discuss important events in the sustainability realm.