Reducing our global environmental footprint to Net Zero by 2035 is the cornerstone of our sustainability goal. To achieve this goal, we follow a three-plank strategy that begins with reducing our environmental footprint. Kohler recognizes the efficient use of resources is required to sustain our business and planet. Aiming for sustainable business practices, we set annual footprint-reduction targets for energy, GHG emissions, water usage and solid waste-to-landfill. Our initiatives run the gamut from capital investment to improve processes and equipment to switching from incandescent to LED light fixtures. We still have a long road ahead to reach Net Zero, but every step, big or small, puts us closer to our goal.
Foshan, China. The less fossil fuel we burn, the less greenhouse gas emissions we put into the atmosphere. For example, at our pottery in Foshan, we rerouted waste heat from the shuttle kiln to the air-handling units in the cast shops and drying rooms. This reduced the facility’s use of natural gas by more than 20%.
Kohler, Wisconsin. The more waste we repurpose, the less goes into the landfill. Kohler’s exceptionally high standards for our vitreous products sometimes creates “rejects” that we remove from the production line. Because the material cannot be reworked, the rejects become “cull” – which in days gone by, would have gone to landfills. Today, we work with customers, like Wausau Tile, that can use our cull as a ceramic aggregate for concrete products, such as benches, tables and tile flooring.
Brownwood, Texas. Water reused is water saved. Our Brownwood pottery connected a condensate return system to eight air-handling units. The water collected routes to the cooling tower and irrigation system, effectively reducing the burden on the local water supply by 4.5 million gallons of water per year.
As the chart below illustrates, we are well on our way to achieving our Net Zero 2035 goals. Since 2008, we have reduced, as a percent to overall sales, our GHG emissions by 14%, our water usage by 27%, and our waste-to-landfill contribution by 47%. We are proud of our accomplishments but know we have a long way to go.
As a growing global company with a need for additional facilities, we’ve committed to green building principles and designing state-of-the-art facilities that minimize the effect on the environment as much as possible. So, in addition to green upgrades, both minor and major, to existing Kohler buildings, we’ve built three Gold LEED certified facilities in the past three years in Zibo, China; Pune, India; and Kohler, Wisconsin.
Our existing structures are the beneficiaries of a number of improvements both small and large as we work toward our goal of Net Zero by 2035. In keeping with the five areas that the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has designated as essential points of consideration in designing environmentally friendly spaces, we’ve developed initiatives that address a range of issues. And while we have a long journey ahead of us, we believe that we all have a part to play, from the people in the boardrooms to those in the factories, and every little bit helps. Explore our Green Building initiatives.
The Beacon site was selected to avoid wetlands, protect mature trees, and nature and the surrounding area.
The water consumption at each of our LEED certified buildings is at least 30% below EPA baseline, and Zibo uses recycled water for toilets and urinals.
Pune lighting energy use is 35% below baseline, and energy use for each LEED building is at least 16% below baseline.
The Zibo facility and The Beacon are made of over 20% recycled content, and Pune is over 10% recycled content.
100% of adhesives, sealants, paints, and flooring at the Zibo facility are low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) to reduce the quantity of indoor air contaminants.