An Interview with One of Tomorrow’s Leaders in Energy Efficiency

John Culver

John Culver is an EDF Climate Corps fellow from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment working at Hilex Poly this summer. He is identifying energy efficiency opportunities on Hilex Poly’s industrial manufacturing plant and helping transform the recycling plant into a net zero facility. Read below to learn about John, his passions for technology and business and how he is using compelling numbers to back his findings that saving energy saves money.

Name: John Culver

School: Duke University

Hometown: Merritt Island, FL

Host Organization: Hilex Poly

John Culver

Q: What is an interesting fact about you?

A:  I’ve never lived more than two hours from the ocean until this fellowship.

Q: Why did you apply for EDF Climate Corps?

A: I grew up near NASA and felt as though I had a strong understanding of technology’s beneficial impact on the world, and I also have a unique understanding of business. When an EDF Climate Corps alumnus told me about the fellowship, I felt like I could relate to the business leaders and show them the benefits of energy efficiency using my grasp on new technology. The program seemed like an interesting and exciting combination of two areas I am passionate about.

Q: What are some of the projects you’ve had the opportunity to work on?

A: I’ve had the chance to perform site assessments on Hilex Poly’s industrial manufacturing plant and have been getting into contact with investors and stakeholders to make the plant run more efficiently saving both energy and money. Hilex Poly is also beginning to work towards the goal of making their recycling plant a net zero facility. I’ve been helping to turn this goal into a reality by working with outside vendors to design a solar panel system on the roof and utilizing fuel cells to power motors and offices within the facilities.

Q: What are some barriers or difficulties you’ve encountered?

A: Successfully navigating and utilizing all of the helpful utility rebates, tax incentives and “hidden” free money that can pay for most of Hilex Poly’s energy efficiency projects.

Q: What are some solutions you have identified while facing those difficulties?

A: Setting up a utility provided basic energy information system has been extremely helpful. The system has allowed my managers to see their personalized energy use profiles within the plant, how much they are using and when they can cut down on that usage. Based on some of these profiles, I’ve identified potential savings of about $350,000. I am working with the leadership team to realize these savings through cost free behavioral changes around the office.

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned this summer?

A: I’ve learned that most people are very open to new ways of thinking, including ones that have to do with energy and the environment. Sometimes they just need a little convincing which has gotten much easier now that they can see their energy profiles.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

A:  I was advised to “Keep it up!” That sounds obvious, but with all the projects I’m working on, achieving them can sometimes seem impossible. But I was told that my work is invaluable and that I will continue to have an impact on Hilex Poly even after I am gone.

Q: What is the best part about working at Hilex Poly?

A: Getting to meet the people behind the scenes of plastic bags who work long, difficult hours, but are still always smiling and laughing.

Q: What is the mark that you would like to leave on the world?

A: I would like to participate in building a bridge that fills the energy use and information gaps between businesses, consumers and managers.

To read more interviews with tomorrow’s leaders in energy efficiency, check out the EDF Climate Corps Blog.


About EDF Climate Corps

EDF Climate Corps ( taps the talents of tomorrow’s leaders to save energy, money and the environment by placing specially-trained EDF fellows in companies, cities and universities as dedicated energy problem solvers. Working with hundreds of leading organizations, EDF Climate Corps has found an average of $1 million in energy savings for each participant. For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook at