Welcome to the fourth of our interviews with companies and organizations that are supporting the upcoming Rock the Green sustainability festival in Milwaukee on September 17. We’re asking companies to talk about their own sustainability stories, as well as to explain why they’re supporting the event — one of the most sustainable festivals around.
This week we’re talking to The Water Council, which describes itself as “a globally connected epicenter for freshwater research, innovation, education and business development.” In a nutshell The Water Council is part incubator, part research facility and part educator on water-related issues. We took a few minutes to talk to The Water Council about how their work fits in with the larger concepts of sustainability.
Q&A with The Water Council
Q: What’s your definition of sustainability, and why is it important to you?
A: We subscribe to the “triple bottom-line” definition of sustainability: people, planet and businesses should profit from our actions. Since water is in our name, we have to consider the implications of our actions and programs on the sustainability of our freshwater resources.
Q: What are the most important sustainability issues you deal with?
A: Our focus is on ensuring the long-term sustainability of our freshwater resources and ensuring water users can look to The Water Council for solutions to their water-related challenges. We also want to ensure our water technology solution providers can deliver state-of-the-art solutions that respect the triple bottom-line approach.
Q: Sustainable thinking is no longer just a “nice to have”, it’s increasingly seen as a competitive advantage. Tell us how sustainable thinking is helping move you forward?
A: When our environment is improved, our economic development benefits. The Water Council has been part of a movement in Milwaukee to focus on our freshwater resources and historical advantages those resources have conveyed to our manufacturers. As a result, we’ve witnessed unprecedented growth in the region around our water technology cluster which has translated into growth in the community as well. Quite simply, our competitive advantage is this region and the water technology cluster headquartered at The Global Water Center.
Q: Rock the Green, the concert, is all about going for zero waste. How have you reduced waste across your operations? Has it paid off for you financially?
A: The Water Council is proud to call the Global Water Center home which is a LEED certified building. The Global Water Center is also the first commercial building on the planet to go for certification under the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s (AWS) International Water Stewardship Standard. What we learned through LEED Certification and engagement with AWS will help us continue to conserve water and other resources, reduce waste, and operate our facility in a way that benefits employees and the surrounding community.
Q: Surveys show that employees are happier and more productive when they’re engaged with a company’s sustainability strategies. How do you engage your staff to implement your sustainability plans?
A: Because we are a relatively small operation, our employees are engaged in all aspects of our business operations, from strategic planning, to event planning, to addressing any sustainability issues that employees bring forth.
Q: In a nutshell, how will you be “rocking the green” in the coming 5 years?
A The Water Council will continue to develop new stewardship and sustainability programs for our members and water users in general. Ultimately, this will help improve our nation’s freshwater resources.