Located in a city bursting with sustainability (think backyard chicken coops and homegrown everything), it’s no wonder our Ann Sacks Tile & Stone team over in Portland, Oregon, lives and breathes the Believing In Better message on a daily basis.
For Customer Service Rep Vincent Brown, inspiration to be a good steward comes simply from stepping – even looking – outside.
“Our area is so beautiful and protecting it is such a large part of our day-in and day-out society. You kind of buy into it because there’s really no other option,” said Brown, who fields a lot of customer calls related to the sustainability of Ann Sacks and its products. “We want to take care of our scenery and give back to the community the best that we can.”
We’re all familiar with the tiny bath products that come with a hotel stay. But have you ever stopped to think about where those barely used bars of soap and shampoo bottles end up after you check out (if not in your luggage)?
LED lights are great, but they’re not all that new. They’ve been shining in homes and offices as the stars of sustainable lighting practices for years. What is new is installing them in an industrial manufacturing setting, with the additional necessary considerations ranging from more extreme temperatures to vibration to dirt.
With a grant from Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy and some support from our own “seed” fund, our Wisconsin Faucet Operations building has installed 9 LED light fixtures specially designed for industrial environments. It’s part of our informal, “real-world test” to see how the fixtures stand up to the building’s conditions. If all goes smoothly, well, they may be casting a glow in more of our manufacturing areas in the near future.
When we expanded our Kohler Power Systems plant in Mosel, Wisconsin, this year, sustainability was (quite literally) at the foundation of the project.
21,000 tons of manufacturing byproducts like foundry sand and slag (waste from melting iron) were reused for the foundation of the facility’s 105,000-square-foot addition. That’s 1,073 truckloads that avoided a lifetime at the landfill
With its low-flow fixtures, infrared sensor-controlled lights, use of recycled water and shelter for 200-plus bikes, our Zibo Vitreous Office Building in China earned us our first LEED Gold certification in 2011. Three years and a sizable expansion later, this sustainable building is still bringing home the gold.
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.
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…
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.
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.