On April 2009, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) highlighted environmental innovations that are helping companies cut costs, create business opportunities and carve out competitive advantages in a challenging economy. EDF unveiled “Innovations Review 2009: Green Advances for a New Economy” at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference, where executives from highlighted companies gathered to discuss how environmental innovations are benefiting their business.

Enterprise was recognized for its use of thin client terminals with its new rental transaction system – a move that streamlines the company’s rental processes and offers significant environmental benefits in the process. The new system – ECARS™ 2.0 – connects the reservations, billing and reporting operations of more than 7,000 Enterprise rental offices around the world. Instead of using personal computers for ECARS™ 2.0, Enterprise deployed a network of 45,000 energy-saving thin client terminals.

Use of the technology will enable Enterprise to cut its annual carbon dioxide emissions by 6.5 million pounds – a reduction of nearly 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per branch office per year.

The network of more than 45,000 thin client terminals – operated through 743 terminal servers – connects Enterprise rental offices throughout the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany and Puerto Rico. Hewlett-Packard helped develop the system, a less expensive and more environmentally friendly approach than the conventional use of PCs.

Thin client terminals use only 13.6 watt-hours and 2.4 watt-hours of electricity in active and passive states, respectively, compared with the 77.1 watt-hours and 1.8 watt-hours consumed by PCs. Over a network of more than 45,000 units, this adds up to significant energy savings with no compromise of operating requirements when comparing the thin client terminal server approach to a full-PC system.

The featured innovations were vetted by EDF and a distinguished panel of experts from the fields of environmental science, law and finance. The final selection includes 15 innovations from around the country. Each innovation was evaluated for environmental benefits, business benefits, replicability and innovativeness.

The Innovations Review also highlights two innovations by EDF and its corporate partners: a Green Portfolio project developed by EDF and private equity firm KKR, and Climate Corps, a program that uses interns to develop energy efficiency investment plans for major corporations. The Review is part of EDF’s broader effort to foster collaboration on corporate environmental innovation through its recently launched Innovation Exchange. Details on all the innovations, as well as multimedia clips, are at available at www.innovation.edf.org.