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With a footprint of 1,400 stores, energy use is an important topic for Best Buy. This summer, we brought in a fresh perspective to help take our carbon reduction to the next level.
Q: Tell us about yourself
Nitin Raviprasad, a graduate student in Engineering Management from Duke University and Best Buy’s first Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps Fellow. He graduated with a B.E. (Electrical & Electronics ) from R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore. Each year, Climate Corps matches more than 120 graduate students with organizations across the country working on energy efficiency projects.
Q: What motivated you to apply for Climate Corps? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
Nitin: I have seen the effects of climate change in my hometown of Bangalore, India. During my childhood, it was known as the paradise city, with pleasant temperatures. Now, the heat is unbearable. I want to contribute to the solution, even in a small way. At the same time, I wanted to have the opportunity to explore a new area of data analytics and to apply the things I had learned in school into actual projects.
Q: What was the basis for your project at Best Buy?
Nitin: Best Buy is becoming known for selling “connected home” products including devices that can help consumers manage their energy usage. In-store displays play an important role in helping customers learn about the technology and products, but the displays themselves can consume added energy. Best Buy was seeking a way to better manage their energy consumption. I was asked to research how that vision could be translated to a “connected store” concept that would enable Best Buy to more effectively manage displays. I needed to find out if the technology existed to enable Best Buy to control displays wirelessly, determine how Best Buy could implement and if it is cost effective.
Q: How did you go about solving this?
Nitin: The energy field is complicated. First, I sought to understand the data sources and verify the data to understand the true scope of the issue. Then, I went to the stores to see for myself how things worked and I interviewed employees and conducted audits. I also used our security camera footage to look at stores when customers were not present. From these observations, I was able to piece together key findings that I was able to share with the cross-functional team to begin the ideation phase of solving these issues.
Q: What were your findings?
Nitin: Overall, small solutions scaled across more than 1,000 stores can have a big impact. If you can find a way to save just one store $100 a month, when you apply that solution to all of locations, you could have just found a million dollar idea! In the end, the research resulted in more than a dozen reduction ideas, everything from simple process changes to complex, integrated solutions that could take years to fully implement. And that’s okay. Best Buy is very open to embracing these challenges, regardless of how difficult they might be.
Q: What is next for you and how has this experience changed your career aspirations?
Nitin: This fellowship definitely influenced my career direction. After I complete one more semester at Duke University, I hope to find a job where I can use my strengths to provide holistic solutions for organizations, while having a social impact.