Kohler, Lowe's Take Top EPA WaterSense Honors

Kohler, Lowe's Take Top EPA WaterSense Honors

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today handed out its second annual WaterSense Partners of the Year awards to organizations that help advance the goal of water efficiency and conservation in the country's businesses and homes.

Five organizations received the honors:

• Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Kohler Co., Kohler, Wis.
• Retailer Partner of the Year: Lowe's Companies, Inc., Mooresville, N.C.
• Promotional Partners of the Year (large utility): Cobb County Water System, Marietta, Ga.
• Promotional Partners of the Year (small utility): James City Service Authority, Williamsburg, Va.
• Irrigation Partner of the Year: Brian Vinchesi, Pepperell, Mass.

Established in 2008, the WaterSense Partners of the Year have helped build the label's success by expanding awareness of and the market for water-efficient products. Kohler has now won the manufacturer's prize for both years that the WaterSense awards have been given out.

Kohler earned the prize this year for promoting WaterSense products in a number of high-profile ways; in addition to creating a dedicate website at SaveWaterAmerica.com about water efficiency, the company donated $1 million worth of WaterSense labeled products to Habitat for Humanity, and engaged in promotions of the label in Denver, Atlanta, Montana and other sites nationwide. Currently, 40 percent of Kohler's faucets bear the WaterSense label, and more than 175 items on its line of toilets acheived the certification as well.

Home improvement retailer Lowe's earned the Partner of the Year award for promoting the idea of water efficiency in its 1,600-plus retail stores in the U.S. The company has worked to educate its employees on the benefits of water efficiency in general and WaterSense in particular, and helped support two regional tax-free shopping days aimed at purchasing resource-efficient products.
Georgia's Cobb County Water System, the larger of two Promotional Partners of the Year, took home the award in part for its creation of a tax-free shopping day and widespread promotion of a rebate system to encourage the purchase of low-flow toilet models over conventional models.

The James City (Va.) Service Authority received recognition for its efforts to boost efficiency among its 46,000 customers. The utility developed and promoted a rebate system for WaterSense products, as well as a rebate for hiring a WaterSense irrigation partner to design outdoor watering systems for maximum water efficiency.

The final award went to Brian Vinchesi, president of Irrigation Consulting, Inc. Vinchesi has required WaterSense trainings for all of his staff and through work with the Irrigation Education Association has spread water-efficient practices across the industry and with clients.

Full details about the WaterSense program is online at EPA.gov/watersense.

Faucet photo CC-licensed by Flickr user mira66.