Net Impact at 20: It’s not just academic

As its web site states, the “net” in Net Impact “benefits not just the bottom line, but people and planet too.” But the net also refers to the network of 30,000 members who can make an impact across the globe. That’s what CH2MHill’s Jan Dell is hoping to tap into as she seeks to enroll students to help with the company’s WaterMatch Initiative. Dell wrote about the initiative in GreenBiz last year and after a trial period with universities in Arizona and southern California she’s ready for schools around the globe to jump in.

In her GreenBiz article Dell meticulously describes the program, albeit from a bit more of a technical angel. At a Net Impact session she took a lighter tone, summarizing it as a combination of a Facebook page for water and a dating web site. The goal is to match municipal water treatment centers with corporations that could use the treated water instead of drawing from freshwater sources. “But the difference between this initiative and dating sites is that it’s OK to make more than one match.”

Mixing crowd sourced student resources with social media offers WaterMatch the best chance at success. By partnering with Net Impact, the initiative may become one more small step that results in a big win.

Putting Net Impact on Your Calendar

As Makower wrote in regards to attending the BSR conference this year, there are very few conferences my GreenBiz colleagues and I attend. But Net Impact is refreshing. One of the last panels I saw focused on “The Business Case for LGBT Equality.” I’m not sure what other conference gives you Areva’s Director of Sustainable Development Laura Clise cajoling attendees to clap and stomp like a human beat box as she rapped an introduction to the session. Or where you would hear Microsoft’s Steve Lippman explain how “Some of my best friends are in government affairs,” while going on to explain why his company and others view LGBT equality as business getting on the right side of history.

But perhaps the best reason to attend Net Impact next year in San Jose is not the panels or the expo or even the keynote speakers. It’s the students who make up the majority of the audience. They are not afraid of asking tough questions. They are excited about the change that can happen. And they can re-energize you and remind you why you too are working for change.