Kohler Innovation for Good Workshop, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Delegates from Clarke Energy recently attended the Kohler Innovation for Good (IfG) workshop in Reggio Emilia, Italy, which was the first IfG event to take place outside of Wisconsin since its inception in 2011. The workshop is an opportunity for Kohler associates from across their varying businesses around the world to work with colleagues on sustainable goals that are important for everyone. The focus of this year’s workshop was the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) #7:Affordable and Clean Energy Access for All. Developing products and services related to UNSDG #7 builds on Kohler’s mission of Gracious Living, and how we might work together to define what it means for Kohler to provide Gracious Living for All.

IfG Day 1

Previous IfG events in the past have led to innovative products being developed and manufactured such as the Kohler Clarity water filtration system. Kohler Clarity is a simple to use and easy to maintain system which can filter out more than 99% of bacteria and protozoa and provide up to 40 litres of safe water each day – enough for a small family. Another initiative born out of IfG is Kohler Waste Lab, a way of exploring new uses for industrial waste materials from the company’s manufacturing operations which would otherwise be sent to landfill. The Waste Lab’s first project used pottery cull, iron slag, and leftover glazes and enamel powder for a line of high end ceramic tiles for bathrooms, some made from 100% waste materials.

Day 1 of the IfG workshop took place at the Kohler EMEA headquarters starting with an overview of the 2 day agenda which was followed throughout the day by a variety of guest speakers invited by Kohler. Emuanele Bombardi from World Vision began by discussing the issues the charity faces in Africa to provide and distribute power, this was followed by Feleke Dejene from Biselex talk on the current market situation in Ethiopia. Allesandro Villa from Planet Italy then explained how we can scale up efforts to restore degraded forest lands to economic and ecological productivity. George Greene IV from Water Mission charity described why power is critical for getting access to water for communities in crisis situations. The day was concluded with a talk from Kohler EMEA President, Vincenzo Perrone on Kohler stewardship, sustainability and UNSDG’s.

Day 2 was hosted at Agritourismo La Razza on the outskirts of Reggio Emilia, the morning began with an introduction to a concept for combining multiple energy sources and outputs from Emanuel Rabitti and Paulo Fregni from Kohler EMEA. George Greene IV and Craig Williams from Water Mission then ran an interactive water / power experiential exercise which gave associates an understanding of some of the many difficulties communities encounter during disaster situations.

IfG attendees were then split into breakout teams depending on their areas of expertise / interest in issues such as combining energy sources, biogas, waste and water / power distribution. The teams then discussed their subject in order to identify a goal or wish, gather data, clarify the challenge and create a plan for action. The three main actions were identified and next steps determined and shared to the IfG workshop attendees at the end of the session. The aim now is for the Kohler associates to develop some of these ideas into future, viable products and services to help solve the issue of a lack of clean water and power in order to offer affordable and clean energy access for all.

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