Net Zero Plus

Water is part of the climate solution. With less than a decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure global temperatures, water investments can help cities and nations meet their mitigation targets. #NetZeroWater is achievable by 2050 and able to deliver multiple benefits to communities. 

A Net Zero Plus Vision

In 2022, the US Water Alliance released Water’s Net Zero Plus: A Call to Action for Climate Mitigation. This report details the US water sector’s vision for 2050, as well as seven elements of cultural transformation needed for an equitable and decarbonized water future: 
 
  1. Act now 
  2. Lead from the heart 
  3. Invest for all people and the planet 
  4. Give respect and room for different knowledge and value systems as necessary partners 
  5. Negate fossil fuels and process emissions 
  6. Embrace watershed and water cycle thinking 
  7. Deliver water equity and environmental justice 
     
As part of the Alliance’s Imagination Challenge, this vision was created by an Imagination Team representing over 35 water associations, utilities, academia, consulting firms, environmental organizations, equity leaders, rising One Water professionals, science advocacy organizations, and artists and cultural leaders working at the intersection of water, climate, and justice. The Alliance partnered with Black & Veatch, Empowering a Green Environment and Economy, LLC, PolicyLink, Stantec, and Xylem to design and facilitate the challenge. For more on the Imagination Challenge and Team, click here
 

Pathways for Net Zero Plus 

In summer 2022, a second publication from the Imagination Team will share a set of recommended implementation pathways toward Net Zero Plus. This report will detail approaches various water stakeholders can enact across drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems, large and small systems, and watersheds. Stay tuned! 
 

Net Zero Plus 2050 Photo Gallery 

Our future in imagining the world we want to live in and leading with our hearts to get there begins now. What is motivating your engagement with the climate crisis? In 2050, what does your world look like? What do you want to see, know, and feel—now and in 2050?  
 
Join the chorus of voices below. Please send a photo and your 2050 aspiration or accomplishments to Katy Lackey at klackey@uswateralliance.org. Photos will be added to the album on a quarterly basis. 
 
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Commitments to Action 

It is time for the water sector to get ALIGNED. Achieving a Net Zero Plus future will take efforts from us all, and there is no time to waste. Are you with us?  
 
If you or your organization is ready to step up, please submit your commitment to action here. Commitments will be reviewed by a subset of the Imagination Team and included on this website on a quarterly basis. The Alliance and strategic partners will track progress for climate action over time.
 
Thank you to the incredible Imagination Challenge partners and growing number of water stewards taking bold steps to ensure a healthy, thriving planet for all peoples. Commitments to date for climate action, reducing GHG emissions, the Race to Zero, or supporting the Net Zero Plus vision include:  
 
Arcadis 
Arcadis commits to achieving Net Zero across its global operations by 2035 and reinforcing sustainability at the heart of client solutions, business operations, and the communities of today, tomorrow, and the future. The Net Zero commitment will reduce Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions in line with the Science Based Targets initiative supporting the Paris Agreement. This includes reduction of Scope 1 and 2 global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 45 percent by 2025, from a 2019 base year, as well as a reduction of Scope 3 (GHG) business travel-related emissions by 35 percent by 2025, from a 2019 base year. As an interim step, Arcadis will reduce 50 percent of emissions caused by domestic and international flights by 2025. More here
 
Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies 
The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) commits to elevating examples of member utilities working toward Net Zero goals for shared learning with others in the sector. AMWA also commits to partnering with other Imagination Team members to explore the impacts of elevating equity and elevating environmental justice. AMWA will research and identify policies for reducing Scope 3 emissions in its daily operations and employee travel. AMWA will continue to promote carbon offsets at its meetings. 
 
Black & Veatch 
At Black & Veatch, our mission, “Building a world of difference through innovation in sustainable infrastructure,” defines why we exist. Sustainable infrastructure advances lives, lifts communities, protects the planet, and enables global prosperity. To help achieve this mission, through our “Accelerate Zero” blueprint, Black & Veatch is committed to reducing our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 40 percent by 2023 and will continue reducing our overall GHG emissions to achieve Net Zero (Scope 1, 2, 3) by 2025.  In addition, we signed three United Nations pledges in 2020: the Global Compact, CEO Water Mandate, and Caring for Climate, and set clear commitments to chart a path to success. We know that sustainability is also about more than how we operate; it is about the work we do for our clients and how we impact the lives of our friends, families, neighbors, and the communities we serve. We are committed to partnering with our clients to achieve their sustainability goals, including reducing GHG emissions, improving water resource management, and achieving greater resilience in the face of climate change. Learn more here
 
Brown and Caldwell 
Our commitment to sustainable solutions and socially responsible operations began with our BC Green program in 2011. This commitment begins inside our own office walls, then translates to the work we do with clients, and finally extends to communities around the world. We’re developing new ways of doing business, ranging from rethinking resource use like paper and office space to reducing travel.  We are expanding the services we provide to clients and their communities, including investing in digital tools and systems to enable work to be done in more low-impact ways. Our efforts are organized around supporting our people, our clients, and our communities to drive toward a better environment. 
 
Empowering a Green Environment & Economy, LLC 
Our mission at Empowering a Green Environment & Economy, LLC (EGE2) is to transform communities using people-centered solutions.  To achieve this mission, we remain committed to supporting efforts to educate current and emerging water leaders on how to shift institutional culture, expand accountability to advance equity and justice, and ensure all solutions presented to help the water sector reach Net Zero Plus will provide economic, social, and environmental benefits for all people, specifically low-income communities and communities of color.   
 
Erin Genia Studio 
Understanding that climate change is a result of the legacy of colonialism around the world and stems from an epistemic disconnection of humans from nature, Erin Genia studios will support Native American and tribally owned businesses and subcontractors and take steps in every part of studio-related processes to reduce or eliminate consumption of fossil fuels, and to choose materials, tools, and services that are sourced with respect and reciprocity for the living world. 
 
Evoqua 
Over the next two years, Evoqua plans to use the Science Based Targets initiative’s (SBTi) methodology to evaluate our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions. The SBTi provides a framework for companies to set emission reduction targets that align with leading climate science and sector-relevant impacts. Currently, more than 2,000 businesses around the world are working with the SBTi. 
 
Following the SBTi methodology will enable us to develop greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Agreement's 1.5°C pathway. We view the development of reduction targets as an important next step on our journey to reaching our goal of Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
 
To address water risks related to climate change, Evoqua has adopted a goal of reusing more water than it withdraws from the source by 2035. As part of our path toward achieving this goal, we intend to create water management plans for our facilities to increase efficiency in our water usage, and implement additional water recycling and reuse initiatives, using our own technology. 
 
Houston Water 
The City of Houston commits to the Net Zero Plus vision through ongoing implementation of the Houston Climate Action Plan (2020), a science-based, community-driven strategy to reduce GHG emissions, meet the Paris Agreement goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, and lead a global energy transition. These efforts will be strengthened by simultaneous implementation of Resilient Houston (2020) and our continued focus on Complete Communities (2017), two strategies aligned with the Net Zero Plus Vision. 
 
Jacobs 
At Jacobs, we are fully committed to limiting global warming to 1.5˚ Celsius, both in how we operate our business and in the climate action, decarbonization, and sustainability solutions we co-create with our clients. As a purpose-led company, we know we have a pivotal role to play in climate response and have made it a focal point of our 2022-2024 company strategy. We consider it not only good business but our duty to channel our expansive capabilities in integrated water management, clean energy, decarbonization, resilient infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, environmental justice, social equity, and health and wellbeing—for the benefit of people and our planet. Simply put, the legacy we want to create for future generations is one of betterment, and Jacobs is committed to pushing the limits of what is possible in the water sector by creating smart and sustainable solutions that leave no one behind. 
 
KC Water 
KC Water is working within the City of Kansas City, Missouri and with stakeholders to create a Climate Protection and Resiliency Plan to deliver a carbon-neutral, equity-focused, and resilient Kansas City by 2040.   
 
Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department 
The Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department (MD-WASD) is committed to the reduction of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions through prudent resilience policy including sustainability, energy efficiency, water use efficiency, and regulatory compliance. MD-WASD will reduce GHG emissions by 50 percent or more across its US building and plant portfolio in 10 years. In addition, MD-WASD will conduct a more comprehensive enterprise-wide GHG audit to more accurately inventory current GHG emissions. 
 
As part of its energy policy commitment statement, MD-WASD is committed to achieving continual improvement of its energy systems, including energy efficiency, energy security, energy use and consumption by maintaining and improving an energy management system that reduces energy use, cost of energy, and greenhouse gas emissions. MD-WASD will reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over 10 years. 
 
Moonshot Missions 
Moonshot Missions commits to looking for opportunities to identify and facilitate the implementation of energy consumption reduction, resiliency, and green energy projects throughout the water sector, particularly for underserved environmental justice communities. 
 
National Association of Clean Water Agencies 
The National Association for Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) will ensure utilities demonstrating a strong commitment to the goal of Net Zero emissions are recognized through NACWA’s National Environmental Achievement Awards Program and through the Utility of the Future Awards Program. NACWA will also consider making the push to Net Zero its own category for these awards.   
 
Pacific Institute 
Building on 35 years of innovative research and thought leadership, the Pacific Institute commits to significantly accelerating and scaling our reach and impact to address the mounting climate crisis. We have adopted a 2030 organizational goal to catalyze the transformation to water resilience in the face of climate change. We will simultaneously address the imperative that water systems—including the natural and built environments and their supporting social and governance structures—adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Through rigorous research and analysis, we will identify effective water resilience strategies, including water efficiency and reuse and nature-based solutions, and ways to make these strategies accessible to all. We will co-produce tools and resources with organizations working directly with frontline communities. Finally, we will promote the uptake of this work through targeted outreach, partnerships, and policy change. 
 
PolicyLink 
Our mission at PolicyLink is to advance equity through policy changes that enable everyone, especially people of color, to be economically secure, live in healthy communities of opportunity, and benefit from a just society. Many within our target population—the nearly 100 million Americans who are living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level—are among the most vulnerable to, and often least prepared for, the impacts of climate change. With respect to ensuring their existing and future water security, we commit to continuing to build the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus (WECR) as a national network of frontline water defenders and climate advocates to engage in federal policy that promotes water security and climate justice. To achieve this mission, we will (i) establish regional hubs over the next two years to more easily lift up what works locally and regionally; (ii) strengthen frontline leadership through training and networking opportunities; (iii) advance a national narrative campaign that advances the non-commodified, cultural importance of water; and (iv) connect the domestic fight for water security and climate resilience to the global discourse in recognition that we need global collective action to effectively address climate change. 
 
Quantified Ventures 
Quantified Ventures will reassess our 2021 carbon footprint calculations, updating information on emissions from staff travel and energy consumption from laptops, monitors, and cell phones. We will set GHG reduction targets according to these calculations, working towards Net Zero. We will pass an internal corporate resolution to hold ourselves accountable to these targets. We will partner with other key organizations to advance information, data, and strategies for Element #3 Invest for All People and the Planet across watersheds in the US.  
 
Rural Community Assistance Partnership 
The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) will continue to provide virtual participation options wherever possible for trainings, technical assistance, and national convenings to reduce travel-related emissions below 2020 levels; RCAP will create a strategy for providing small utilities with their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions data and information they need to make fully informed decisions; RCAP will create a strategy and tools for increasing energy and water use efficiency for small utilities, and increase the use of and access to renewable energy for small utilities. 
 
Singer Studio 
Singer Studio is committed to innovative design to minimize or eliminate GHG emissions from projects. Over the last decade, Singer Studio has designed and built several innovative water-based projects, including the Living Docks, South Cove Environmental Regeneration Project, Prototype Mangrove Planters, and Prototype Modular Artificial Reefs, all of which are living breathing projects designed for resiliency, ecological regeneration, and improved water quality. Each of these projects is intended as precedents for creating coastal resiliency through green-gray infrastructure, potentially reducing the need for carbon-intensive traditional ‘gray’ infrastructure. As a part of this effort, Singer Studio has developed concrete mix designs that contain 70 percent recycled content and reduce Portland Cement usage by 40 percent (Portland Cement being the primary GHG source of concrete). This innovative mix design has been deployed in both the studio’s land-based projects and marine projects, and the Studio is committed to continuing the use of this lower-carbon alternative for future projects.  
 
Sixth World Solutions 
Sixth World Solutions takes a systems-based approach to develop socio-economic solutions for Indigenous Peoples, Nations, and communities. We center community leadership and rights-based approaches for regenerative, place-based solutions. Working on the intersections of water security, food sovereignty, and renewable energy development, we are guided by Indigenous principles of kinship, community, environmental responsibilities, traditional principles of leadership, and strategic planning modeled after seventh-generation philosophy. We are committed to working with an Indigenous conservation lens of “giving back more than we take” in all development projects, but particularly as they relate to the water sector. We will continue to advocate for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and will center Indigenous-led solutions that go beyond achieving Net Zero emissions by centering regenerative solutions that restore biological diversity across our shared watersheds and waterways. Our vision for the future is one that restores “Right Relationship” with all sacred life and life-giving elements. We commit to working with private and public partners at all levels of governance and community-building/nation-building to ensure that future development of water infrastructure respects the human right to water without compromising the rights of non-human life and future generations. 
 
Stantec 
Stantec is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2022 as a first step in achieving Net Zero operations by 2030 across its entire global footprint. We will set science-based emissions reduction targets, for all three scopes, in line with 1.5°C emissions scenarios. Stantec believes a Net Zero future is necessary to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change and achieve an equitable distribution of social, environmental, and economic benefits. To support Stantec’s role in this future and guide our sustainability strategy, we adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework. We will continue to release an annualized statement as part of this, with adjustments, modifications, and upgrades, each year on Earth Day.
 
The Conservation Fund 
The Conservation Fund shapes enduring solutions to conserve America’s land and water resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Global climate change demands bold action to halt the increase in CO2 emissions and mitigate harmful effects on people and nature already set in motion. To achieve Net Zero in the water sector, we commit to collaborating with federal, state, regional, tribal, and private partners on the permanent protection of up to 5 million acres of working forestland during the next 10 to 15 years. We project that forest conservation at this scale will store more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 and protect over 6,500 miles of rivers and streams.  
 
In cities, we are committed to working with local and regional water utilities to protect source watersheds and reduce harmful urban runoff and flooding through greater integration of green, nature-based solutions with traditional gray infrastructure. We place a high priority on making such improvements in historically underserved communities, urban and rural, and will seek opportunities to partner with community leaders, public agencies, and businesses to provide sustainable, safe, and affordable water services for all.  
 
In coastal areas, we will work with wildlife agencies and other stakeholders to implement nature-based projects that sustain marshes and coastal ecosystems while preserving sequestered carbon, minimizing erosion, and reducing the impact of sea level rise on communities, many of which are in lower-income rural and urban areas. At the watershed and landscape scales, we are committed to engaging with public, nonprofit, and private organizations in implementing effective Net Zero One Water projects. 
 
Union of Concerned Scientists 
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will continue to raise awareness around climate change impacts on water supplies—including the present drought—and encourage more climate-resilient actions in funding and policy discussions. Through research, UCS hopes to help redesign water systems to reduce the impacts of climate change while they keep providing essential services to all communities—including safe, clean, affordable drinking water. Lastly, UCS is committed to scoping and analyzing potential solutions to drinking water access problems.  
 
US Water Alliance 
The US Water Alliance commits to implementing the Net Zero Plus Vision by providing national platforms for peer learning to advance the seven elements of cultural transformation and strategic pathways for GHG reductions. This will include a 10-city Utility GHG Reduction Cohort in 2022, with follow-on efforts over the next five years. We also commit to reducing GHG emissions from company travel. We will assess travel-related emissions and develop a policy to incentivize the reduction of all non-essential staff travel while offsetting priority travel beginning in 2023. 
 
Water Environment Federation  
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) seeks to achieve carbon-neutral conferences through optional carbon offsets, beginning with WEFTEC 2022. WEF has released position statements on climate change (2021), biosolids and carbon sequestration (2020), and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; 2019). A UN Water Partner, WEF will support these positions through activities, including education at a dedicated SDG Theater at WEFTEC; support for UNLEASH, a global SDG Innovation Lab; and the ReNEW Water Project, a program to accelerate resource recovery at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to fuel and grow a circular economy. ReNEW shares aggregate data on resource recovery from WRRFs in the United States for the past decade. The data will communicate the positive impact the water sector has on mitigating climate change by including estimates of carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction as a result of water reuse, renewable energy generation, and the beneficial use of biosolids.  
 
Xylem 
Xylem has committed to greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions including Science-Based Targets aligned to limiting global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial level, in line with the Paris Agreement, by 2030, and Net Zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) before 2050. Xylem is also committed to partnering with customers around the world to deploy high efficiency technologies that enable meaningful, early progress towards Net Zero. Read more here and here.  
 
Xylem’s signature 2025 sustainability goals also include:  
  • Save more than 16.5 billion cubic meters of water.  
  • Reduce over 3.5 billion cubic meters of non-revenue water. 
  • Treat 13 billion cubic meters of water for reuse. 
  • Prevent over 7 billion cubic meters of polluted water from flooding communities or entering local waterways. 
  • Provide access to clean water and sanitation solutions for at least 20 million people living at the base of the global economic pyramid. 
  • Ensure 100 percent of employees have access to clean water and safe sanitation at work, at home and during natural disasters. 
  • Use 100 percent renewable energy at Xylem’s major facilities. 
  • Use 100 percent process water recycling at Xylem’s major facilities. 
  • Give 1 percent of Xylem employees’ time and 1 percent of company profits to water-related causes and education.