Kohler Social Purpose

of two

Plumbing Companies with Sustainable Goals

We found ten high-end plumbing fixture-producing companies that also commit to sustainability practices. These ten companies are Grohe, Gerber, Sloan, Dornbracht, Delta, Duravit, TOTO, Franke, T&S Brass, and Pfister.


  • Grohe produces high-end sinks, faucets, and other fixtures for bathrooms, kitchens, and showers and sells them in the United States.
  • Grohe's EcoJoy line offers 68% in water savings. Their blue line can transform a kitchen sink into cool tap water or sparkling water.
  • Grohe promises to protect water for future generations. Their sanitary technology helps use 50% less water.
  • Grohe has faucets that cost more than $300 USD.


  • Gerber produces high-end sinks, and faucets for bathrooms, kitchens, and commercial uses and sells them in the United States.
  • Their sustainability begins with their ecological manufacturing processes. They produce highly-efficient products.
  • Gerber is a WaterSense partner that worked closely with the program to produce the performance guidelines. They believe the sustainable approach leads to higher quality standards and performance that future generations can count on.
  • Gerber has faucets that cost more than $300 USD.



  • Delta produces high-end bathroom fixtures including faucets and sells them in the United States.
  • Delta has products that are WaterSense-labeled that take sustainability into consideration. These products can help increase efficiency and save money.
  • Delta also partners with USGBC to produce sustainable buildings.
  • Delta has faucets that cost more than $300 USD.





  • Franke produces high-end designed coffee systems, kitchen systems, faber hoods and cooking systems, foodservice systems, and water systems and sells them in the United States.
  • This company has created their products for over 100 years and also make tailor-made products.
  • Franke strives to create products with long-term added value for customers and society while using the least amount of resources as possible.
  • In the company's sustainability report, they had a 7.3% reduction in CO2 emissions between 2018 and 2017.
  • Their company seeks to improve energy efficiency in their buildings with efficient light bulbs, air compressors, and waste management.
  • Their social responsibility stems from their values: "Enable people," "Foster teamwork," "Act entrepreneurial," "Deliver solutions," and "Be accountable."
  • Franke has faucets that cost more than $300 USD.


  • T&S Brass manufactures high-end designed faucets, fittings, and specialty products and sells them in the United States. Their products are known for being well-built, long-lasting, and reliable.
  • The company notes that they have always produced high-efficiency products and that their mission is to manufacture their products to save natural and financial resources for their customers.
  • T&S has partnered with USGBC and the EPA to raise awareness of water conservation, increase education, and conserve resources.
  • T&S has faucets that cost more than $300 USD



To determine that these companies produced high-end products similar to Moen, we searched for the key term "high-end" in product descriptions. All of these companies' products are available on Amazon, on their company website, and other home improvement stores, all of which described the products using the term "high-end." To further identify the similarities between the companies listed and Moen's products, we compared faucet prices. All the faucets were in the same price range. However, high-end was not designated by a specific price range, so we took faucets over $300 to indicate high-end. All the faucets from the ten companies and Moen offered faucets above that price. A quick search on Amazon finds that high-end kitchen faucets can range from $50 to $500 USD.

of two

Kohler Social Purpose

There are three options presented for Kohler to consider in owning an area of sustainability. They could integrate sustainability into all areas the business, making an impact and owning not just one area of sustainability but owning the concept or they could select one major issue for their company they would like to improve, set a measurable target to improve it through reusability and work toward reaching that goal. As a third option they could select an issue outside of but tangential to their business and work on that, for example funding NGO's to provide clean, safe drinking water to communities without it.


Human Sustainability

  • Human sustainability, in its simplest terms is ensuring the well-being of human resources on the planet.
  • This includes investments in education, health care, nutrition, access to services, building knowledge and skills are all topics included in human sustainability.
  • Because natural resources are limited, the goal is to balance continuous growth and improvement with improvement to health and the achievement of economic well-being for everyone.
  • A human sustainability therefore focuses on the importance of and impact on anyone involved in making, selling, or servicing the product.
  • This applies not just to individuals but to communities impacted by methods used to mine source materials.

Social Sustainability

  • Social sustainability involves investing in services that constitute the framework of the society in which we want to live.
  • Society cannot be defined locally. Because of the interdependence of the four pillars, the idea of social sustainability must be within the global perspective as it relates to communities, cultures and globalization.
  • It means ensuring a world for future generations, not just in one place, but on the planet.
  • It generally focuses on ensuring a commitment to "concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity, honesty and the importance of relationships between people."
  • The supports involved in building and maintaining this framework include laws, information sharing and common ideas of equality and rights.

Economic Sustainability

  • Economic stability is about improving the standard of living and maintaining that quality. In the context of a business's activities, the means the efficient use of assets to ensure corporate profitability over time, not just until the resources run out.
  • Using just the bottom line to determine the quantity of economic growth is not the only metric though; the quality of the growth matters as well.
  • One of the challenges on this pillar is that generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) do not include the cost of damage to the people, the society and the earth in some activities.
  • New studies in economics are beginning to include both natural and social capital. Economists are also beginning to question the concept that continual growth, getting bigger and better, is the golden calf to be adored and fed, even if it harms ecological and human systems.

Environmental Sustainability

  • The protection of natural capital like land, water, air, minerals and climate is the goal of environmental sustainability. Programs are considered to be environmentally sustainable if they can meet the needs of the population "without compromising the needs of future generations."
  • A business that is looking to be environmentally sustainable is seeking an outcome which does neither short term nor long term damage to the environment.
  • In summary, "an environmentally sustainable business seeks to integrate all four sustainability pillars, and to reach this aim each one needs to be treated equally."


  • Kohler's current messaging on sustainability is understandably focused on water preservation through products engineered to reduce water usage.
  • It shares this message with consumers by appealing not only to their environmental concerns but also to their desire to save money.
  • Kohler ensures it suppliers practices are based on ensuring lawful, ethical and fair practices in all operations.
  • Suppliers are expected to adhere to minimum international fair labor practices and to treat all workers fairly, ensure a safe, healthy work environment and protect the environment by using sustainable practices. Suppliers are audited and must recommit every five years.


Option One

  • As can be seen above, the optimum way a company can make a difference is by integrating all four pillars into their corporate strategy and its messaging. The companies that have successfully integrated are seeing increases in profit and the goodwill that comes with winning awards or placing at the top of GlobeScan/Sustainability Leader Survey.
  • One example is the Earthwards program at Johnson and Johnson.
  • Their employees consider seven impact areas when determining the sustainability of products.
  • These areas include packaging, water reduction, positive social impact or benefit, and product innovation. Johnson & Johnson works "with a third-party auditor to review products using the Earthwards framework and has a recognition program for products and teams that achieve meaningful progress against the framework".
  • As of 2017 the company had included 100 products in the Earthwards portfolio, valued at more than $8 billion.
  • Kohler could therefore OWN not just one sustainability area, but instead be known for the INTEGRATION of all four sustainability pillars into all of their products and for having the concept of sustainability permeate the organization.

Option Two

  • The second option is for Kohler to take one specific issue in its supply chain, set it as a goal for the company and work on integrating it into the organization.
  • An example of that model can be seen in Starbuck's coffee. Starbucks looked at their sustainability report in 2007 and decided that ethically sourced coffee was the single most critical issue for the company.
  • They made that one of their three corporate wide strategic goals and spent 70 million dollars on creating the framework for selecting ethically sourced coffee.
  • By working with their suppliers and ensuring their workers and their communities were positively impacted by their relationship with Starbucks, they had achieved a 99% rate of ethically sourced coffee.
  • Kohler could therefore look at its current sustainability work, pick a single issue that is key to their business success and choose to OWN that issue, making corporate changes to impact the sustainability of all four pillars.
  • For example, Kohler could choose the strategic goal of ensuring their products were renewable and generated no waste. They could work on ensuring all the materials used to make their products were recyclable and that all four pillars of human, social, economic and environmental sustainability were considered — thereby owning the area of REUSABILITY. It could even take it a step further and pay for customers to return the parts they are replacing to Kohler for recycling.

Option Three

  • Kohler could work on sustainability outside its business by setting up a foundation to ensure safe and accessible drinking water for all. By messaging that a percentage of its profits were going toward that cause, it could work with NGOs across the world to ensure people had a modern infrastructure for delivery, thereby ensuring clean water for all in a community. That way it could OWN the issue of clean safe water.


From Part 01