DENVER, CO, Oct. 4, 2011 -- CH2M HILL's Project Sustainability Pilot Program has been recognized with the 2011 National Association of Water Companies Management Innovation Award. The program resulted in the reuse of 2.1 billion gallons of effluent, diversion of 5,600 tons of waste, and savings of 1.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity, almost 12,000 gallons of chemicals, and a total of $1.2 million in catalogued savings.
The pilot program was created in response to a challenge issued by CH2M HILL's operations and maintenance business group leaders to increase sustainability at project locations, particularly in the western half of North America. Designed to capture and promote practices that generate environmental, social and economic benefits for the company, its customers and the communities it serves, the pilot program's goal was to integrate sustainability into its project delivery in ways that provides meaningful value to the clients while driving continuous improvement to service delivery and employee development.
"This program is near and dear to us because it reflects our core values," says O&M Business Group President Elisa M. Speranza. "I could not be more pleased by the way our people responded to the challenge and the results we achieved together. This award recognizes the scope and significance of those results not only for our company, but more importantly, for our clients. It's always nice to be recognized by our peers, since they have first-hand knowledge of what we do."
Forty-five projects, ranging from water and wastewater plants to industrial sites, took up the challenge. Volunteers served as "sustainability champions" and project teams collaborated to set client-specific goals for measurable impacts. In addition to the previously noted impacts, the teams created almost 60 community involvement programs. Among the highlights:
• CH2M HILL employees contributed 80 volunteer hours to provide water education training to 875 students as part of the Rio Rancho, N.M. Water Festival, which supports the client's aggressive water-use reduction goals.
• A storm drain mural project in Coos Bay, Ore., brought together CH2M HILL, the city, and community non-profits to raise awareness about protecting the fishing community's most valuable resource.
• In Fayetteville, Ark., staff tapped into personal and community commitment to earn the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Habitat Certification for the Noland Wastewater Treatment Plant. The initiative is part of the city's effort to become the first Certified Community Wildlife HabitatT in Arkansas.
Speranza notes that while sustainability efforts traditionally focus on design and construction, improvements to the O&M side are key to delivering on the company's commitment to sustainability.
"When you examine resources used throughout the lifecycle of a facility, operations is a significant portion of your overall resource consumption," she explains. "By extending the sustainability focus to O&M of existing infrastructure, we can greatly reduce our present impact through better management of energy, water, material consumption and waste."
Based on the pilot's success, the program is expanding to all O&M projects, Speranza says.
The NAWC Management Innovation Awards recognizes new and innovate programs that benefit organizations, customers, communities or the water industry overall. For more information, visit www.nawc.org.