Darrel Carter’s resume may show that he’s worked for the Sprint family of companies for 34 years, but in the enterprise energy manager’s mind, it’s a misnomer. As the telecommunications industry has changed, Sprint has constantly reinvented itself. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years? Carter’s devotion to achieving the company’s energy goals. Under his leadership, Sprint achieved its absolute 20% energy reduction goal in 2014, which was three years ahead of schedule.
Sparkfund: Tell us about your role at Sprint.
Darrel Carter: I tell people, with my tongue in my cheek, that I do two things at Sprint: make the meters turn as slowly as possible, and buy energy as cheaply as possible. That’s a pretty simple thing, but the devils are in the details.
Describe Sprint’s energy goals and how you’ve met them.
We work with the U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge to establish our goals. The first set we made was 20% energy reduction. We went way past that. It was an absolute goal that we surpassed in 2017 by using 42% less kWh than we used before. There is a multitude of ways you can accomplish that, from energy measures to evaluating old equipment that was abandoned in place and left online.
We’re now establishing our next set of goals with the Better Buildings Challenge, but the details haven’t been finalized yet.
What recommendation do you have for energy managers who don’t have the leadership’s buy-in?
It helps to have support from the top, but I have a trick that might help someone who doesn’t. Align energy conservation with the philanthropic interests of your company. I’m fortunate to manage a talented team and together we’re working on an internal program where business units would work together in support of our signature philanthropic program. A portion of cost avoidance derived from energy reduction would be donated to the charitable organization. You get to help the environment, reduce costs for your company, and improve the lives of your customers. Who can’t get on board with that?
What’s an industry trend you think flies under the radar?
Sprint is exploring Energy as a Service (EaaS), which has benefits for companies of any size. We’re pretty serious about signing up an initiative that walks across all ECMs (energy conservation measures) in a corporation. What that means for a company is they don’t have to come up with the capital, they don’t need to have a payback conversation, and so on. They can have a positive cash flow, and it’s hard to argue with a positive cash flow. This is a relatively new model that changes the ball game for a lot of companies.
What’s one piece of professional advice you’d like to pass on?
You meet a lot of salesmen who talk big numbers, so you have to be cautious. My advice is to proceed cautiously with big numbers that are presented as savings; you need to vet those carefully.
What gets you motivated to come to work in the morning?
I hate waste in any shape or form. I’ve always felt that being a good steward of this world is very important. Energy waste is carbon released into the atmosphere that doesn’t need to be there. I call that the triple bottom line: it saves the company money, it saves the world from carbon, and it’s good for the employees. It’s a great position to have financial impact to reduce climate change, so I don’t have a hard time getting motivated.