NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C., Sept. 25, 2012—When George and Molly Greene sold their Charleston-based environmental engineering company in 2001, it wasn't to retire to the golf course or beach, but to devote themselves full-time to helping with the global water crises. They never imagined the Christian engineering relief and development non-profit they birthed would become a global leader in sustainable safe water solutions.
But tonight, the founders of Water Missions International will be honored by top global researchers, academicians and solar industry leaders at a gala in Frankfurt, Germany, where they will receive the SolarWorld Einstein Award. The award is presented to deserving personalities from science, business and politics that have made a key contribution in advancing and using solar power technologies. Previous winners include 2010 Nobel Prize winner Prof. Muhammed Yunus, inventor of micro credit, and Spanish photovoltaic pioneer Prof. Antonio Luque-Lopez.
In its eighth year, this is the first Einstein Award ever won by an American. The 2012 award will be shared with German-based SMA, the world's largest solar inverter manufacturer.
Founded in 2001, the Greene's Water Missions International is currently designing and providing safe water solutions in 49 developing countries and has responded to every major natural disaster over the past 11 years.
"Our eyes were opened to the enormous need for safe drinking water in 1998 when our environmental engineering company volunteered to help Hurricane Mitch victims in Honduras," said Molly Greene, Water Missions International board chair and co-founder. "As with all natural disasters, the most urgent need was safe drinking water. We were unable to find water systems we thought would be effective and sustainable and we were committed to providing the people with a safe water solution that would last long after we came home to South Carolina."
"My husband George, a chemical
engineer, said ‘water treatment isn't rocket science, let's design our
said. "Within two days, a prototype was designed, built, tested, and made
ready to deploy. The criteria was simple: make it easy for people to use and
resilient for transport to remote areas. Today our systems can be operated and
maintained by a local community for up to 20 years or more of safe water.
Since its inception, the Water Missions International team has been
diligently and passionately designing and innovating for this life-saving
Water Missions CEO and co-founder George Greene III, PE, PhD said "This award is a great honor that Molly and I can accept only as representatives of Water Missions International's 150 staff based in nine countries, our strategic partners worldwide and hundreds of volunteers who work together to transform lives in developing countries and disaster areas who lack the most basic essential for a healthy life—safe water."
According to the U.N., lack of safe water and adequate sanitation is the world's single biggest cause of illness. The Greenes, now thought leaders in creative solutions to the global water crisis, say their work is just beginning. They have set their sites on building a Global Water Center where professionals and organizations from around the world can come for cutting edge research, training and equipping with best practices to alleviate the world's water problems at a transformational rate. The international headquarters/campus will be located in Charleston, S.C.
"SolarWorld salutes Water Missions International…for their work leveraging the amazing power of solar…" said SolarWorld Americas president Kevin Kilkelly. "We look forward to witnessing their continued advances."
The Einstein Award brings with it one of the photovoltaic industry's highest monetary prizes. SolarWorld has announced the company will donate some 400 solar panels for use by Water Missions International.
About Water Missions International
Water Missions International is a nonprofit Christian engineering organization providing sustainable, safe water solutions to disaster victims worldwide and people in 49 developing countries. Founded in 2001, Water Missions' 150 engineers and staff, along with hundreds of volunteers, have responded to the world's largest natural disasters and their customized water systems have the capacity to provide more than 2 million people their daily safe water supply. Water Missions International has received Charity Navigator's top rating six years in a row, a distinction shared by only 3% of the charities rated by the organization whose data-driven analyses have been profiled and recognized by Forbes, Business Week and Kiplinger's Financial Magazine.