When I walk down the street in various cities around the world, I can almost feel the pace of change gaining momentum. A fast-growing, increasingly urban, increasingly affluent global population is generating increased demands for goods and services. As businesses respond, we're seeing unprecedented pressure on natural resources and the environment. At the same time, accelerated development and adoption of breakthrough technology is reshaping the way people communicate and connect and how commerce is done. That means both increased risk and incredible opportunity.
Today business is re-imagining how we provide people with food, goods, services, infrastructure, transportation, healthcare and every other necessary element of life in a radically different world. Doing more with less must be part of the picture. While solutions may differ by company, industry and region, one thing is certain: business as usual is not a sustainable option.
We're inspired by the commitment of our customers who are seeking new ways to lighten their environmental footprints while continuing to grow and expand. As the world's leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, we're dedicated to helping our customers meet their sustainability goals through innovative and effective science, service and insights that drive lasting change across industries.
Every day, 47,000 Ecolab associates around the globe get to work, helping customers across industries by providing solutions at the intersection of performance and sustainability. Our customer-centric business model provides a unique line of sight into the on-the-ground challenges and opportunities companies face today. Industry leaders look to Ecolab to help them enhance performance, reduce costs and minimize environmental impact, and we're proud of our partnerships with them.
With our global presence, we are well positioned to help customers across industries and geographies adapt and thrive in an era of resource constraints. Because we have 25,000 sales-and-service professionals around the world, we can provide a consistent level of support, informed by on-the-ground insights. Our sale-and-service team is backed by more than 1,600 research, development and engineering experts who continue to develop effective, sustainable solutions, tailored to our customers' needs.
Many of them are highlighted in this report. As a pioneer in industrial automation, we leverage more than 36,000 sensing units in customer operations to deliver real-time insights that help inform faster, smarter decisions and better water management. We see considerable opportunity to expand our ability to offer actionable data that drives sustainability improvements.
We are applying these same insights and science in our own manufacturing plants to support our growth and at the same time reduce the resources we use. I'm particularly proud that in 2015 our plant in Taicang, China, received the world's first certification from the Alliance for Water Stewardship for adopting the International Water Stewardship Standard, which promotes sustainable freshwater use. The fact that the plant operates in the water-sensitive region of the Taihu basin of the Yangtze River made this certification even more significant.
Always striving to do better, we are setting bolder environmental performance goals that align with our business growth strategy as we continue to work to decouple resource use from growth. This year, we reduced our internal water use by nearly seven percent, and we are pushing ourselves to do even better. By 2020, we aim to reduce water usage by 25 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent across all our manufacturing plants, compared to a 2015 baseline.
It's an exciting time to be at the forefront of sustainable growth. Economic growth and natural resource conservation are not opposing goals. It is our strong belief that they should, in fact, be complementary goals, achieved together to support strong economies and healthy societies as we move further into the 21st century.
Douglas M. Baker, Jr.
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer