Top Company: services
MWH Global prides itself on having the greatest possible impact with the smallest possible footprint.
With employees on six continents – including 600 in Colorado – the company has established itself as a world leader in the wet infrastructure sector, concentrating on water, industry/infrastructure and renewable energy/sustainability.
But MWH is as committed to green practices in its own offices as it is across the globe, CEO Robert Uhler says.
“We do our best to ‘walk the walk’ on climate change, so you’ll see many things happening in our organization to lessen our footprint,” he says. “Everything from limited travel in favor of video conferencing to trying to use washable dishes as opposed to disposable ones in our office break rooms.”
It’s all part of MWH’s multiyear, multifaceted Climate Change Commitment, which uses education and advocacy to promote sustainable projects and reduce energy use and emissions.
“Here in the U.S., we’ve pulled together a new practice area to best provide our clients with the expertise we have in energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon footprinting and accounting, and water sustainability,” Uhler says. “Recognizing that sometimes getting started can be the hardest part, we’ve also developed a quickStart program that helps show organizations where to begin when it comes to implementing sustainable practices.”
As part of its mission – “Building a Better World” – MWH employee volunteers also have reached more than 3,500 students in the firm’s Climate Change Educational Outreach Program, including 400 students in Denver Public Schools.
“The goal here is to educate students about climate change and inspire the younger generation to get involved to make a difference at home, at school and in their local communities,” Uhler says.
The company supports Water for People, a Denver-based nonprofit that helps developing countries develop locally sustainable drinking water sources, sanitation facilities and hygiene education programs; and Engineers Without Borders, a program that partners with developing countries to help improve their quality of life.
Those groups reflect MWH’s own philosophy of taking projects beyond construction and engineering to make an even more profound difference. Case in point: the Tekeze Hydropower project in Ethiopia, a country of 80 million without reliable access to light, heat and water.
The company has worked more than 10 years on the dam, Africa’s highest at more than 600 feet. But because the hydropower plant is nearly three hours from the nearest city, MWH also helped build 22 miles of roads and three small towns where nearly 3,000 workers now live.
The wife of the MWH chief design engineer led the effort to build a school, and during the project, several hundred local engineers and technicians received formal classroom and on-the-job training.
“This project will provide sustained economic and social growth for the country,” Uhler says. “And that is something we are very proud to be a part of.”
– Lisa Ryckman