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We spend a lot of time dreaming about, designing and manufacturing faucets, but we know there are places around the world where the mere act of turning one on isn’t an option.
To help combat this startling reality, a handful of our associates (active members of our Innovation for Good committee) recently donated their engineering expertise to a water filtration project for Safe Water Kenya, part of the Michigan nonprofit Safe Water Team, Inc. Specifically, our team’s challenge was to improve upon the BioSand water filtration units the group deploys to villages throughout the East African country.
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(To catch you up: BioSand technology mimics nature by using good bacteria to remove impurities in water. Water seeps through layers of sand and gravel where, along the way, the good bacteria remove more than 90 percent of the bad bacteria. Adding to the impressiveness of this natural filtration wonder is the fact that essentially no maintenance is required. We know…It’s almost too good to be true.)
The problem was the filter’s inconsistent flow rate from one installation to another. Having a consistent water flow is integral to the filter’s success; if the water flow is too high, the filter can’t remove as much product, but if it’s too low, then users are frustrated with the small amount of clean water they’re getting.
We were tasked with designing a metered outlet restrictor on the filter to provide a steady water flow. After a handful of design changes and prototypes, we came up with a solution that resulted in a very low-cost implementation for the Safe Water team.
“That’s part of the beauty of what the Kohler team did; they understood how critical cost was,” said Don Arnold, who works with Safe Water Kenya. “I can’t imagine there being a more effective and less expensive solution than what they gave us.”
So why us in the first place? Well, we regulate the flow of water every day while creating our products. Though our expertise in the world of water was seen as valuable for this type of project, members of our team will quickly admit that it stretched their ways of thinking.
“I’ve done some projects that regulate the flow of water, but never in this way. It really helps you learn,” said Steve Aykens, Staff Engineer and core team member of the filtration project.
Up next, the Safe Water team will be developing prototypes and conducting field tests in Kenya, testing the device in a nearby city’s lab to determine the design’s efficacy.
No, this wasn’t the plumbing we’re used to, but we believe it’s good to get outside of our comfort zones every now and then. And for this type of work? That choice was crystal clear. 

We spend a lot of time dreaming about, designing and manufacturing faucets, but we know there are places around the world where the mere act of turning one on isn’t an option.

To help combat this startling reality, a handful of our associates (active members of our Innovation for Good committee) recently donated their engineering expertise to a water filtration project for Safe Water Kenya, part of the Michigan nonprofit Safe Water Team, Inc. Specifically, our team’s challenge was to improve upon the BioSand water filtration units the group deploys to villages throughout the East African country.

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The year was 1977.
Thirty-seven years ago, our innovative, water-efficient toilets certainly used more gallons of water than our 1.28 gallons per flush products do today (we’re looking at you, retro 3.5 gpf toilets). But as this ad demonstrates, when it comes to thinking sustainably, this was our passion before it was “cool.”

Now, about those bell bottoms and big hair…

The year was 1977.

Thirty-seven years ago, our innovative, water-efficient toilets certainly used more gallons of water than our 1.28 gallons per flush products do today (we’re looking at you, retro 3.5 gpf toilets). But as this ad demonstrates, when it comes to thinking sustainably, this was our passion before it was “cool.”

Now, about those bell bottoms and big hair…

What happens when you combine the engineering expertise of Kohler and Caltech with the creative mastery of local Indian artists? You get the “toilet of the future,” piloted in a rural community in India and providing the access to proper sanitation that we all deserve.

Watch how this dynamic partnership, forged thanks to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, transformed a shipping container into an off-grid, zero waste-producing mobile restroom and blended it into its destination culture with traditional Indian truck art.

A smartphone isn’t the only device getting smarter; thanks to a team of Kohler engineers, the engine that powers some commercial lawnmowers is increasing its IQ, too, trimming the amount of fuel used and greenhouse gas emissions.
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Technology moves into the “outdated” category fast. These Kohler engineers knew the electronic fuel injection system they developed years ago for general purpose engines (used on everything from a lawnmower to a generator) could only benefit from an update. Senior Staff Engineer Martin Radue will be the first to tell you that at every stage of the development process (and there were many), the question asked was, “What more can we do with it?”
(Quick lesson: An electronic fuel injection, or EFI, system optimizes fuel delivery to the engine by using electronic controls to sense air density and temperature, load size and other operating conditions. It replaces the carburetor, which is calibrated to deliver the same amount of fuel to the engine regardless of external conditions.)
Our something “more” was taking our EFI system and applying it to propane in addition to gasoline (a project that was support by the Propane Education & Research Council).
Today, our closed-loop EFI system’s precise metering of fuel reduces the engine’s fuel consumption by 20 to 25 percent compared to a similar engine with a carburetor. It’s also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent when using the propane-fueled version. The Command Pro Propane EFI engine (still with us?) is gaining in popularity among commercial landscapers looking for greener equipment; in fact, it was chosen to power the mowers used to cut the vast National Mall lawn in Washington, D.C.
Fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and grass aren’t the only things being cut, though; there are plenty of cost-savings with these new engines, too. Not only is propane produced domestically in the United States, it’s also less expensive than gasoline.
“When we talk about a technology that can deliver fuel savings in the 20 to 25 percent range and the biggest cost of operating commercial equipment over its life is fuel cost, that’s a huge impact on the bottom line for those professionals using these Kohler engines,” Radue said.  He noted that, traditionally, customers can spend more on fuel through the years than on the initial vehicle itself. “This is a big benefit to the commercial landscapers who operate these engines daily.”

A smartphone isn’t the only device getting smarter; thanks to a team of Kohler engineers, the engine that powers some commercial lawnmowers is increasing its IQ, too, trimming the amount of fuel used and greenhouse gas emissions.

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While waste is inherently unamazing, we can do some pretty amazing things with it to make the world a better place. (Take this, this and this, for example.) But the ideas themselves don’t just rise up out of the dumpster. Enter: our amazing, inspired associates.
Most recently, associates in our Shanghai office wasted no time donning their (metaphorical) thinking caps and putting their sustainability knowledge to the test as part of the weeklong unAmazing Waste competition. The friendly contest challenged associates to identify company-produced wastes and to brainstorm ways to avoid sending them to the landfill.
The competition’s been done in North America, and there are plans to roll it out in other China and Asia Pacific plants, too.
What we’ve found? The landfill has nothing on a collective group of inspired people who are believing in better.

While waste is inherently unamazing, we can do some pretty amazing things with it to make the world a better place. (Take thisthis and this, for example.) But the ideas themselves don’t just rise up out of the dumpster. Enter: our amazing, inspired associates.

Most recently, associates in our Shanghai office wasted no time donning their (metaphorical) thinking caps and putting their sustainability knowledge to the test as part of the weeklong unAmazing Waste competition. The friendly contest challenged associates to identify company-produced wastes and to brainstorm ways to avoid sending them to the landfill.

The competition’s been done in North America, and there are plans to roll it out in other China and Asia Pacific plants, too.

What we’ve found? The landfill has nothing on a collective group of inspired people who are believing in better.

We believe a work environment that’s good for the earth can be equally as good for the soul…
The Kohler India Technical Center (ITC) in Pune was created to provide a more spacious, sustainable workplace for associates outgrowing the old technical facility. This new area – a build-out of a floor in an existing office building – recently became LEED-Gold certified for commercial interiors.
But Mother Earth isn’t the only one reaping the benefits; we’re feeling pretty good ourselves.
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The first thing associate Sameer Bondre happily noticed upon moving his workspace into the ITC was its simultaneous lack of lighting and abundance of light (seems like an oxymoron, we know). But the natural light coming in from big windows and the incorporation of LED fixtures mean lighting power is 35 percent below the recommended baseline of 1.0 watts per square foot (that’s a good thing). The baseline, by the way, is set by ASHRAE, a global society advocating sustainable technology in the built environment.
Allow us to shed some of this (natural) light on a few of the ITC’s other sustainable accomplishments:
88 PERCENT (3.38 tons) of construction waste diverted from landfills (thanks, recycling!)
Reduced water consumption 44 PERCENT below the Environmental Protection Agency’s baseline
27 PERCENT of all materials extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the building
ZERO use of CFC-based refrigerants – what’s commonly called “Freon” – in heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems (scientists have concluded that those refrigerants deplete the ozone layer)
So let’s sum this up. Natural light + views of Magarpatta City + more space + LEED-certification = improved mood, productivity and sustainable habits among associates.
 “I can see a marked difference in the attitudes of my coworkers,” Bondre said. “The mood they are in nowadays is very refreshing and ready to accept challenges. I can say that a lot of it can be contributed to the new office building because of the positive vibe it emits.”
In our opinion, the more LEED-certified spaces, the better. There’s room for all of us on the medal stand.

We believe a work environment that’s good for the earth can be equally as good for the soul…

The Kohler India Technical Center (ITC) in Pune was created to provide a more spacious, sustainable workplace for associates outgrowing the old technical facility. This new area – a build-out of a floor in an existing office building – recently became LEED-Gold certified for commercial interiors.

But Mother Earth isn’t the only one reaping the benefits; we’re feeling pretty good ourselves.

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What’s an Eco-Leader? According to the environmentally minded bunch at Green Builder magazine, it’s a company that is “embracing the triple bottom line and proving that sustainability is as good for revenues as it is for people and the planet.”
So it’s no question we’re honored to be featured in Green Builder’s July issue - alongside companies such as GE, Panasonic, Patagonia and Owens Corning – as a recipient of one of the magazine’s annual Eco-Leader awards.
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Those who read the profile on Kohler Co. – “The Bold Look of Water Conservation” – will get a glimpse of our three-pronged sustainability strategy: diminish the company footprint, develop innovative products that save water and energy, and drive awareness of conservation.
The Green Builder group also highlights our efforts, as a brand leader, to show the importance of water conservation by living it out through our products. Think low-flow and ultra low-flow designs vetted through our (long-time) participation in the EPA’s WaterSense program.
Because we all know actions speak louder than words, right?
As for our fellow Eco-Leaders, we’ll be the first to admit we’re in some very good company. It’s safe to say we know what’s on our reading list this month.
You can add it to yours, too. Dive into the online issue here (you can find us on pages 20-21).

What’s an Eco-Leader? According to the environmentally minded bunch at Green Builder magazine, it’s a company that is “embracing the triple bottom line and proving that sustainability is as good for revenues as it is for people and the planet.”

So it’s no question we’re honored to be featured in Green Builder’s July issue - alongside companies such as GE, Panasonic, Patagonia and Owens Corning – as a recipient of one of the magazine’s annual Eco-Leader awards.

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We’re inspired by fellow innovators, fellow dreamers, fellow think-outside-the-boxers. So when we heard about Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based program designed to deliver showers to the city’s homeless population via mobile buses, we hopped onboard to see how we could help. (Full disclosure: because plumbing happens to be one of our specialties, it wasn’t too difficult of a decision.)
The old city buses, received through a donation program, were retrofitted with KOHLER products, from showers to sinks to toilets to grab bars.
Why showers? “We believe that hygiene brings dignity, and dignity opens up opportunity,” founder Doniece Sandoval says in the program’s launch video.
This team is believing in better with each corner turned, neighborhood reached and pit stop made. We weren’t about to let this opportunity pass us by.
Learn more about Lava Mae’s journey here.

We’re inspired by fellow innovators, fellow dreamers, fellow think-outside-the-boxers. So when we heard about Lava Mae, a San Francisco-based program designed to deliver showers to the city’s homeless population via mobile buses, we hopped onboard to see how we could help. (Full disclosure: because plumbing happens to be one of our specialties, it wasn’t too difficult of a decision.)

The old city buses, received through a donation program, were retrofitted with KOHLER products, from showers to sinks to toilets to grab bars.

Why showers? “We believe that hygiene brings dignity, and dignity opens up opportunity,” founder Doniece Sandoval says in the program’s launch video.

This team is believing in better with each corner turned, neighborhood reached and pit stop made. We weren’t about to let this opportunity pass us by.

Learn more about Lava Mae’s journey here.

100,000 kilometers.
6,000 hours.
10,000 euro, saved.
It’s hard to believe, but Gérard Mathieu has been riding his bike to and from work (x2, for lunch with his wife) since he started at Kohler in September 1974.
For this Director of Europe/Middle East Faucet Operations, the daily rides of 16 kilometers – or about 10 miles – started because his wife Christiane needed their shared car to get to work. Rather than purchase another gas-guzzling vehicle, Mathieu decided to strap on a helmet and get a wheelin’.
Forty years and only five falls later, he’s still putting it in gear.
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Ask Mathieu what he likes about biking to and from the office and you’ll likely be convinced to hop on two wheels tomorrow, too. A few from his list: biking is good for your health and good for the environment, and it allows you to sneak into traffic, park for free in the city, enjoy free transportation and relish panoramic views.
Whew.
The environmental mindset doesn’t deflate when the wheels stop, though.
Mathieu waters his garden with rainwater, and the couple sorts their garbage, recycles plastic bags and produces their own compost from organic waste. Creating a healthier future for their children and grandchildren is a driving motivator, and leading by example is an integral piece of the puzzle.
So how can you, too, join Mathieu in believing in better?
 “Think about the concept of ‘environment,’ say what you think to be the meaning of ‘sustainability,’ and act as you thought and said to protect the planet,” Mathieu says.
We’ll see you in the bike lane.  

100,000 kilometers.

6,000 hours.

10,000 euro, saved.

It’s hard to believe, but Gérard Mathieu has been riding his bike to and from work (x2, for lunch with his wife) since he started at Kohler in September 1974.

For this Director of Europe/Middle East Faucet Operations, the daily rides of 16 kilometers – or about 10 miles – started because his wife Christiane needed their shared car to get to work. Rather than purchase another gas-guzzling vehicle, Mathieu decided to strap on a helmet and get a wheelin’.

Forty years and only five falls later, he’s still putting it in gear.

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The new attraction at the Quassy Amusement Park & Waterpark in Middlebury, Connecticut, isn’t an adrenaline-pumping coaster or a twisting-and-turning water slide; it’s the park’s remodeled restrooms. The mission: to dramatically reduce water usage amidst the park’s growing attendance.
A winter revamp of the main restrooms left the 3.5 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets behind in favor of our 1.28 gpf models and included an upgrade to more water-efficient urinals, too.
That’s something we’ll wait in line for.
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“We did our research when embarking on this project and found the KOHLER® products to be the ideal solution,” said Quassy President Eric Anderson. “Our major concern was the operation of the low-flow units not working efficiently and requiring additional flushes to clear the bowl. Kohler excels in this area.”
The family-run, family-fun park that plays host to approximately 225,000 guests a summer was a small order with a big impact; Quassy’s placement alongside a lake tangibly highlights the importance of the water conservation message.
“The impact is right there,” said Heidi Petruccelli, Senior Sales Executive at our Boston branch. “Now, every time a toilet is flushed at the park, it’s using half the amount of water it was using before. They’re easily going to save thousands of gallons of water.”

The new attraction at the Quassy Amusement Park & Waterpark in Middlebury, Connecticut, isn’t an adrenaline-pumping coaster or a twisting-and-turning water slide; it’s the park’s remodeled restrooms. The mission: to dramatically reduce water usage amidst the park’s growing attendance.

A winter revamp of the main restrooms left the 3.5 gallon per flush (gpf) toilets behind in favor of our 1.28 gpf models and included an upgrade to more water-efficient urinals, too.

That’s something we’ll wait in line for.

Continue reading