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.
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.
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.