MORTON GROVE, Ill. — Since its inception in 1954, more than 62,000 engineers, contractors, and other hydronic HVAC and plumbing professionals have been educated at the Little Red Schoolhouse. On Sept. 12, Xylem Bell & Gossett held a grand reopening celebration, officially reopening the facility. During that event, Lisa Riles, director, global residential Americas, CBS and HVAC, Xylem, met with Engineered Systems’ editor-in-chief, Herb Woerpel, to discuss Xylem’s Watermark program, some recent industry trends, and more.


Engineered Systems: Lisa, can you tell us a little bit about the sustainability efforts of Xylem through the Watermark program, specifically those occurring under the Bell & Gossett brand?

Riles: Sure. So Xylem, as a leading global water technology provider, is driven to provide sustainable solutions, and our mission is to solve water. One way that we do that is through sustainability and providing a world that offers better water security. So, the Watermark program is an area where we encourage our employees to participate and perform volunteer work.

We actually celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Watermark program in 2018. So, in 2018, we had Xylem employees across the world doing volunteer work, whether it was water cleanups, education, different activities, etc. In 2018, 45% of Xylem employees actually participated in in the Watermark program.

I, personally, this past summer, participated in my first water tower build in Bangalore, India. It was such an emotional experience to build a water tower near a public school with the children and teachers. To see the joy in their faces was wonderful. They now have access to clean water for drinking and for cooking and activities. That passion that we have as Xylem employees is shared by our partners, distributors, and representatives as well.

So, this year, we said, “How can we expand watermark beyond that?” And, so, we challenged our Bell & Gossett representatives to participate in this program with us. So, to date, we've got about 12 different programs that have either been completed or are in the works. For example, Mulcahy Company, up in Minneapolis, held a customer event and raised nearly $15,000. Watermark co-oped some of those donations. They were providing funds for Wine to Water, which is an organization that provides sustainable water internationally and also to the local community in Miami, Ohio. These are just some of the examples of how we're interacting with our customers.


Engineered Systems: Xylem boasts a pretty wide portfolio of products and innovations. Can you speak a little bit about that portfolio, and how you guys have expanded over the last several years?

Riles: Sure, so Bell & Gossett is a leading brand in the HVAC, plumbing, and HVAC hydronics industries. We just celebrated 100 years, a few years ago, but Bell & Gossett is just one of the many brands under the Xylem umbrella. And Flygt is another one of the brands that serves more in the wastewater industry. So, we're looking at how we can incorporate the technologies and expertise that we have across the entire Xylem brand and utilize those in the products and services that we offer to customers.

Last week, I was visiting a customer, and we were talking about their steam system and heating system. At the time, I said, “Well, what's going on with your wastewater system?” And, so, we met with another colleague, and he said, “You have some serious issues that need to be worked out.” I said, “We have a solution; we can help you.” So, I put him in contact with some of the people on the Flygt side. So, it's a way of saying that Xylem can provide a complete solution to customers, and we can take the technology that we have with some of the other lines of dialogue and incorporate those into the product development and technologies that we develop throughout the industry.


Engineered Systems: What kind of trends do you see coming down the pipe for the next five to 10 years that our audience of consulting and specifying engineers and facility managers need to be aware of?

Riles: Technology, obviously, is an area that is a big driver for our industry and other industries. And when we say technology, it’s how are we providing technologically advanced products, whether it's ECM technology, data, or IoT, all of those things are important, and we want to deliver those solutions in a way that is meaningful for our customers. So, otherwise, it's not going to be relevant. And that's just not for our industry, that's for industries across the board. So, we try to take that technology and provide a solution for our customers.

One way of doing that is by trying to help engineers simplify what they're doing and making them more effective in what they do. And the Bell & Gossett ESP Systemwize program, which is an online tool that allows engineers to select and optimize their systems, is one way that we're doing that. So we've developed that program, and we’re continually adding to it — adding more products and accessories to advance that program to make it easier for customers to use.

Standards and guidelines are another area where we see continued growing trends, whether it's net-zero buildings or standards requiring more efficient systems. We following these closely and making sure that our products and solutions are going to be able to meet those requirements.