Student’s Internship in Corporate Sustainability Featured in Climate Change Documentary

Brendan Edgerton SOM/FES ’15 spent the summer of 2013 as an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow at Office Depot, exploring ways to make the company’s operations more energy efficient. The internship gave him practical experience in corporate sustainability and the chance to make actionable recommendations to the company’s executives—and also, unexpectedly, led to his television debut.

A week before the internship began, a phone call came informing Edgerton that Showtime wanted to feature him in a new documentary about climate change. The director, filmmaker James Cameron, planned to film three Climate Corps fellows to illustrate the role that corporations can play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in combatting climate change. Cameron’s eight-part film, Years of Living Dangerously, will debut on Showtime on April 13. (Edgerton will be featured in the seventh episode, premiering on May 25.)

Edgerton spent 10 weeks at Office Depot, examining the company’s energy usage and recommending ways to retrofit the lighting and HVAC systems at the company’s retail locations, distribution centers, and headquarters to make them more energy efficient. He also outlined a path for Office Depot to achieve carbon neutrality in its property operations.

A film crew shadowed Edgerton for about 100 hours as he divided his time between Office Depot’s headquarters in Florida and its distribution center in Pennsylvania. In addition to documenting him on the job, the filmmakers flew Edgerton to Los Angeles, where actress Jessica Alba interviewed him about his interest in sustainability.

Edgerton says he is honored to be part of the documentary, which explores the human impact on the climate and how it can be mitigated. “This is a production with a lot of firepower,” he says. The series is presents real stories of the global challenges resulting from climate change as well as solutions to mitigate those impacts, an approach that resonated with Edgerton. “It says, ‘Enough of the debate. Let’s see what we can do about it now,’ ” he said.

Educating business leaders is especially critical to environmental sustainability, Edgerton says. “They have their hands in processes from design and creation of a product to distribution to end-of-life disposal,” he says. “They have the power to decide the lifecycle impacts a product will have and how much that product will affect the environment and society.”