Sustainable Savings

Students in G3 hear from experts. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 15, 2017) – You and your team have just a few days left to reduce costs and enhance revenue by $100,000 for your client through sustainable business practices. How do you do it?

This is the challenge facing students in Going Green Globally (G3), the cornerstone program for all first-year MBA students. G3 evaluates green concerns from a business perspective. It is just under two weeks of intensive experiential learning, capping a semester-long course.

Teams of students work together as consultants to solve 21st century problems for local clients. Final presentations by the eight teams are from 8:30 a.m.to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, in the Campus Center Assembly Hall.

G3 celebrates its 10th anniversary this spring. The program began in 2007, as a result of brainstorming between Clinical Professor of Business Linda Krzykowski and Associate Professor of Management Paul Miesing.

The two professors chose environmental sustainability as the focus. Each year, they pair student teams with businesses, non-profits and city governments to help them solve sustainability problems.

“The program is designed to provide students with the opportunity to experience what the interconnected and fast-paced business world is really like,” said Krzykowski. “Just because you have studied a subject in an MBA program doesn’t mean you can apply it to what are often unclear business problems. In G3, students get that experience along with the pressures of deadlines and having to meet the expectations of multiple stakeholders. And this experience helps them to ultimately be very successful in their careers.”

In the beginning, Krzykowski and Miesing used G3 to culminate the MBA’s Global Strategic Management course, in which students evaluated companies and made recommendations for future success. The concept remains the same: evaluate a company and present the results to senior leadership of client organizations and to a panel of sustainability experts and business school professors.

Akshay Kumar Chutke, a first-year MBA student from Hyderabad, India, said his team is working with the Bethlehem Public Library, exploring how the library can save $100,000 by changing its lighting and energy systems. One idea proposed was for an auto dealership to donate an electric vehicle charging station, the cost of which would count toward the savings total.

Other clients participating this year include Adirondack Beverage, the City of Saratoga Springs, Hilton Albany, Mazzone Hospitality, the New York Power Authority, Cohoes Music Hall and Proctors.

On May 8, Chutke and his fellow classmates heard a team of panelists discuss energy-saving initiatives. Pradeep Haldar of SUNYPoly encouraged the students to look at how firms can promote themselves as eco-friendly while also reducing energy costs. Haldar is vice president of Entrepreneurship Innovation and Clean Energy programs at SUNYPoly.

“Think about what matters to the customer,” advised Renee Devine, commercial leader for energy efficiency at National Grid. Devine ’99, ’01, is a UAlbany MBA alumna, as is another panelist, Kevin Hale ‘06, director of utility offices and strategy partners at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“I heard a lot of great questions,” Hale told the class. His advice to the teams as they rush to meet the deadline was “just focus.”

While business and environmental advocates are often seen as working against each other, G3 brings them together, using business knowledge to solve environmental problems.

Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York told the class that in the state’s energy plan, 800,000 electric vehicles are to be on the road by 2025 in New York, contrasted with 20,000 currently in use.

He envisions a future where consumers will drive an electric car and store its unused electricity through the battery. After driving home from work, they can pull the power from the battery, and use that electricity to run the dishwasher at night.

And there are incentives to customers: NYSERDA, he said, offers a $2,000 rebate if you buy an electric car. He suggested the students look into such rebate opportunities if working with an auto dealership.

“Start thinking more creatively with your clients,” Iwanowicz suggested, adding the future is not just about using clean energy but storing it as well.

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