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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.”

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.”

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.

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

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

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.