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Kohler Expands Environmental and Human Health Product Disclosures


Kohler has released its first Declare human health product labels for two popular enameled cast iron fixtures – the Villager bathtub and the Brockway sink. Declare labels, similar to food ingredient labels, detail the material composition of the fixtures and help inform consumers about the safety of the products they use every day. Declare labels are produced using a format developed by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), and they fulfill product disclosure requirements in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system.

Kohler’s engineering and operations team worked together for more than six months on the project.

“Developing our first Declare labels required gathering details on the sourced raw material from each supplier, the quantity of naturally occurring impurities, and the final material composition after undergoing chemical transformation during the casting and firing process,” said Jeff Zeman, principal engineer for product sustainability engineering at Kohler. “Architects and designers have asked for information about the products they specify for building projects, and knowing the exact makeup of the raw materials help us continue to invest in product innovation that benefits our customers.”

Kohler also recently expanded availability of environmental product declarations (EPDs) for its plumbing fixtures produced for North American and select Asian markets, which helps architects and interior designers maximize the credits they can achieve when targeting a building for LEED certification.

Kohler has achieved third-party certification through UL to create on-demand EPDs for more than 1,000 primary kitchen and bath fixtures, or more than 10,000 total product SKUs when accounting for color and finish variations. With this expansion, Kohler offers more EPDs than any other building products manufacturer.

“Kohler has long been known as an industry leader in water efficiency,” said Rob Zimmerman, director of sustainability at Kohler. “Providing clear, easy-to-understand environmental and human health data on the products we manufacture takes our sustainability commitment one step further. In partnership with the green building industry, we strive to ensure that all residential and commercial buildings contribute to the overall health of their occupants while minimizing their environmental footprint.”

Because Kohler environmental engineers worked with operations leaders to collect energy, water and waste data at 14 of the company’s manufacturing facilities and apply it to individual products, the company achieved UL certification at the facility level instead of the typical product-by-product approach other manufacturers use. This maximizes the number of KOHLER and Sterling products with available EPDs and provides data-supported insights that give Kohler product development teams an edge in designing the next generation of more environmentally favorable plumbing products. Next the teams will gather information to develop EPDs for KOHLER faucets and showering products, planned for 2019.

In April, Kohler was one of 34 building products manufacturers that publicly committed to product transparency in a letter from ILFI mailed to architects, designers and other influential leaders in the green building industry. Kohler is currently working with ILFI to create Declare labels for additional fixtures, to launch later this year.