William Sapon—an alumni of the Katz Graduate School of Business—is dedicated to improving sustainability in more ways than one. A key leader in the sustainability efforts of Peoples Natural Gas, an Essential Utilities Company, a board member of both the Pitt Business Alumni Association and Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, and a vital figure to the foundation of Pitt’s Center for Sustainable Business, Sapon is using his passion for energy and the environment to transform the Pittsburgh region in multiple aspects.
Sapon, who aspired to work in the energy sector for a large portion of his life, first became interested in sustainability during a hiking trip in Central America. After encountering villages without access to power or running water, he recalls realizing that the utilization of renewable power methods would be essential in providing sustainable, reliable, affordable, and resilient infrastructure in such areas. This recognition is still apparent in his efforts today: currently, Sapon is an integral part of Essential Utilities’ mission to create and promote more sustainable infrastructure, assisting in projects such as reducing the company’s Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 60% from their 2019 baseline and establishing the Pittsburgh International Airport’s current microgrid, which is fully powered by natural gas and solar energy.
Sapon’s commitment to furthering sustainability reaches far beyond the pursuits of Essential Utilities; his impact can also be directly seen on Pitt’s campus at the Katz Graduate School of Business’s Center for Sustainable Business. During his time as a graduate student, Sapon was approached by Professor CB Bhattacharya with an outline of what would eventually become the Center. Sapon recalls how Bhattacharya’s vision immediately resonated with both his personal values and the values of Peoples Natural Gas: “There really was a need for a center not only to convene, but to enable.” The Center not only provides a forum for businesses to discuss sustainability-related challenges, but also initiates change by assisting its partners in adopting sustainable practices; additionally, it provides graduate students with courses, research opportunities, and even a certificate program, all of which focus on teaching sustainable business principles. At the recommendation of Sapon, Peoples Natural Gas was able to form a partnership with the Center for Sustainable Business and become one of its founding corporate members.
His involvement with Pitt Sustainability as a result of both working with the Center for Sustainable Business and holding a board position within the Pitt Business Alumni Association has given Sapon a great appreciation for the University’s environmental efforts. He remarks that, from a business perspective, publications such as the Pitt Sustainability Plan help inform the actions of businesses such as Peoples Natural Gas; additionally, the University’s initiative to integrate sustainability leaders throughout various campus organizations gives corporations the opportunity to form valuable partnerships within multiple areas of the University’s community. Sapon also values the University’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into its various curricula, recognizing that it is a necessary component of virtually any educational background: “Not only Pitt Sustainability, but MCSI and other centers like the Center for Sustainable Business…really do a great job in making sustainability a priority. They…help prepare students become sustainability generalists.” Sapon hopes that, as a result of programs such as MCSI and the Center for Sustainable Business, future generations of students will be able to enter the professional realm with sustainability in mind. Visit esg.essential.co to learn more about Essential Utilities’ commitment to sustainability.
Photo Credit: Tiffany Cooper, Hot Metal Studio