Media members toured ww.kohler.comKohler’s new global corporate communications building at the recent Kohler Editors Conference 2012 in Kohler, Wis. The conference brought together 19 media members from across the country for two days of roundtable discussions, breakout sessions and product overviews hosted by Kohler executives.
The building, which merged all Kohler-based corporate communications associates from four different locations under one roof, opened in June and earned U.S. Green Building Council LEED Gold certification in November. Kohler partnered with architecture and design firm Gensler on the 79,000-sq.-ft. layout that is divided into an open-space office area and a photo/video studio and houses approximately 180 associates.
It features Kohler water-efficient plumbing products, which will save an estimated 330,140 gallons of water per year, as well as energy-efficient heating and cooling systems (including the use of radiant floor heat in some areas). The building has computer-controlled outdoor air intake monitoring so 30% more outside air is brought into the building than required by code.
A white roof makes effective use of sunlight and heat reflection, which helps reduce air-conditioning system load and lowers run times to save energy and greenhouse gas emissions. Thanks to an integrated design process, the building uses approximately 18% less energy each year compared to a standard building of the same size and location.
The storm water-management system reduces or eliminates water that leaves the site, allowing dirt, dust and other unwanted contaminants to collect in a setting pond, which prevents contamination problems and recharges the aquifer.
Extensive metering of natural gas, electricity, water and sewer uses allows for detailed tracking of usage by area, time and systems. All information is fed into a computerized monitoring and management system to allow building operation analysis, and when needed, direct maintenance.
After a media vs. media hands-on plumbing installation competition kicked off the conference, Kohler President and COO David Kohler delivered his keynote address, touching on Kohler’s history (8,000 employees in the company’s existence have tenures of 20 years or longer) and where the company is headed in the future, particularly with its views on sustainable practices.
“When we created our (green) strategy, it wasn’t just about being green for green’s sake,” he said. “It is a strategy that blends the business needs and issues with the needs of the environment.”
Kohler expressed optimism with the current health of the kitchen and bath industry on the heels of the recent economic crisis. “It’s been the most protracted recovery since the 1940s,” he said. “Our industry right-sized and has seen a gradual recovery. We’re in a better position now than other industry segments. We’re starting to feel the housing market move forward. The remodel market took a dip down and then came back up. Right now, 80% of housing is stuck in peak remodeling time and age.”
In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Kohler addressed the upcoming federal no-lead law and the company’s recently announced Authorized E-Tailer Program that limits the sale of Kohler products on the Internet to 17 authorized e-tailers (read Hank Darlington’s column on the new program).
Kohler executives Cynthia Bachman (VP, Fixtures Engineering), Steve Bissell (VP, Marketing), Tristan Butterfield (Creative Director), John Hart (Chief Creative Officer, Interiors Group) and Frank Windsor (VP, Sales) took part in a roundtable discussion covering topics such as consumer buying habits, sustainability and e-commerce. A video interview with Bissell talking about the Authorized E-Tailer Program, as well as videos with Kohler’s Rob Zimmerman and spokesman Ed Del Grande can be found at www.supplyht.com.
Breakout sessions included information on faucets and showering, water conversation, technology in the bathroom, colors material and art, the luxurious bathroom and remodeling and replacement trends. Two soon-to-be-released plumbing products were unveiled – including the Moxie showerhead, which features a Bluetooth speaker in the center that allows the user to listen to music while showering.
Designer Mick De Giulio’s new Crystal Clear kitchen was unveiled at a pre-conference reception at the Kohler Design Center.