CH2M Hill's Scott Ingvoldstad keeps his copy of the "Little Yellow Book" on his desk. The simple sketchbook of values was written in 1982 by the engineering and construction company's co-founder Jim Howland and serves as a reminder of how to incorporate the basic concepts of ethics and integrity into everyday situations.
Ingvoldstad, who is CH2M Hill's director of government affairs for the central U.S., says customer satisfaction and an overriding goal to "keep clients delighted" permeates the firm's culture. Recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the fourth year in a row, CH2M Hill operates from more than 170 offices worldwide, providing consulting, design, construction and operations services for corporations and federal, state and local governments.
CH2M Hill's 2011 acquisition of London-based engineering firm Halcrow Group Ltd. has helped expand its global presence, especially in the areas of infrastructure, transportation, buildings and structures, threat reduction, public health and security, and climate science.
The Denver-based firm closed its 2011 books with gross revenue of $6.4 billion (including joint ventures) and now has 30,000 employees in more than 80 countries, with a portfolio of completed work in 149 countries and all seven continents.
CH2M Hill has close to 4,000 employees in the Mountain States region (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming), where its market for water, transportation and federal waste cleanup projects remains robust.
From managing the planning, design and construction of infrastructure and venues for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, to expanding the Panama Canal and cleaning up the Rocky Flats former nuclear weapons site, CH2M Hill's projects are characterized by an emphasis on technical innovation and creativity.
There's also a push to incorporate sustainable solutions into every project, says Amy Lange, Denver area manager.
The company's Denver headquarters reflects this mission. With water-efficient features, motion-controlled lighting and comprehensive recycling options throughout all the buildings on its 1,700-person, four-building campus, this leader in the energy, environmental, facilities, resources, transportation and water markets sets a good example.
In 2010, CH2M Hill earned Energy Star ratings on three of its four Denver campus buildings. The firm now tracks its energy usage monthly in Energy Star's portfolio manager system.
CH2M Hill's green buildings database documents projects that have helped clients save more than 11.7 million kWh of electricity, 295,000 therms of gas and 52 million gallons of water. In collaboration with clients, the company has diverted 64,000 tons of construction waste from landfills, restored 129 acres of habitat and created 6.5 MW of onsite power generation. In 2011, CH2M Hill debuted at No. 7 in Engineering News-Record's top 100 green design and construction firms list.
Additionally, CH2M Hill helps operations and maintenance clients reduce the impact of water treatment plants and other facilities on the environment. In 2011, CH2M Hill clients reused 5.05 billion gallons of effluent and returned 99% of treated water back to rivers, lakes or other water bodies in a carefully monitored and controlled manner.
The company's Denver office is currently creating a sustainable communities rating system prototype to be used at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Just as the LEED system rates individual buildings, this new system is designed to help evaluate the sustainability of an actual community and will eventually be used as a model for all of the firm's markets, Lange explains.
Lange says a diverse portfolio of federal and non-federal work, along with the ability to move people around the region wherever they are needed, has been key to addressing any areas of slow growth during the recession.
Ingvoldstad sees a national trend toward increased urbanization and a focus on new infrastructure with shared regional solutions—especially for water. Sustainable solutions are crucial due to the scarcity of this resource—and have come into play in the growth of CH2M Hill's water sector in the region, he says.
CH2M Hill was recently named Water Company of the Year at the 2012 Global Water Awards presented during the Global Water Summit in Rome. The International Desalination Association and Global Water Intelligence presented the award.
"Sustainability crosscuts all of our projects," says Rod Brauer, vice president for CH2M Hill's water business group. "It's rare for our water clients not to be concerned about sustainability; we work this in as a matter of course."
The $650-million Prairie Waters project, one of CH2M Hill's largest and most visible projects in the Denver area, was prompted by drought conditions in Aurora, Colo., and ultimately added 3.3 billion gallons of water annually to the area's supply. Completed in 2010, the five-year project combines natural purification with state-of-the-art water treatment, creating a renewable and more reliable water source.
"Prairie Waters' natural purification systems avoided power consumption and a carbon footprint—bringing the most forward-thinking solutions to our clients," Brauer says.
The EPA's new (lower) nutrient limits for phosphorous is also spurring water project activity throughout the region, notes Mark Bowen, CH2M Hill's Idaho area manager. The city of Boise is currently redesigning and constructing new technologies to reduce phosphorous discharge; Napa and Meridian are responding to the issue as well, he says.
In addition to its water supply projects, CH2M Hill is also currently designing a $250-million wastewater reclamation facility for the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District Denver-metro area—which extends to Arvada, Aurora, Denver, Brighton, Lakewood, Thornton and Westminster in Colorado—and provides wastewater treatment for 1.7 million people. Located in Brighton, the new Northern Treatment Plant will have a capacity of 24 mgd while meeting stringent discharge limits, especially for phosphorous and nitrogen. Once negotiations are complete, the district will contract with the team of CH2M Hill and Garney Construction to build the facility by 2016.
CH2M Hill's Salt Lake City office does a "fair amount of power work and is positioning itself to be involved in a string of upcoming public utilities projects in water treatment, water conveyance and wastewater treatment," says Jim Schwing, Utah area manager.