Kunal Gulati

Joe Azzarello shares how the LEED Dynamic Plaque has affected the Kohler Co. and its employees.

Joe Azzarello of Kohler Co. sat down and shared a brief overview of what it’s like to manage a LEED Gold building in Wisconsin and to measure its performance using the LEED Dynamic Plaque.

The platform 

We’ve had the LEED Dynamic plaque installed up and running for almost a year now. The LEED Dynamic Plaque provides a very visual reminder about working in a LEED-certified building. There are times we become complacent about our own space and need a subtle and powerful reminder of the importance of the building we work in each and every day. It is important for every building to ask the question, "How is the building doing? How are we doing?"

Why it works 

Spreadsheets and graphs are quite redundant and, simply put, boring. Our associates stare at similar charts during workdays, and their eyes glaze over at just another spreadsheet or chart. The LEED Dynamic Plaque’s Performance Score provides information in a visually stimulating and fun manner and has a strong tendency to engage people in a way static charts cannot. Like I said, the visuals and graphics are very attractive. Frankly, there are other real-time building monitors out there but we felt that everything we do supports our long-standing relationship with USGBC, LEED, and our own personal goals. It’s a good fit for us. 

How employees react 

People are competitive, especially our own. They always ask the "why?" questions and answer with "maybe we can do better." They offer up options about being more efficient with the waste and water management system. There have even been talks about carpooling more. (As background, this building is home to over 100 employees that commute up to 60 miles daily with erratic schedules). If our energy score drops and people notice it, they will take measures to improve it. The performance score is a reminder to maintain and continually improve the building, and hence to update LEED certification at a desired level. Continual improvement with the Dynamic Plaque means that when you move into LEED for Existing Buildings, your scores will more likely be high enough that you don’t have to make major physical changes to the building to meet the requirements. 

Ongoing steps

Since we implemented the plaque, Kohler has had many mini-meeting, official or water-cooler sessions about our performance and the LEED Dynamic Plaque. It is convenient to have it located right in the middle of our break/kitchen area ,so we can all congregate and have candid conversations about improvement and implementation. People have received their survey links, and we have great response rates on transportation and human experience. We’ve also been asking people about the scores and responses from people on improvement for the building.

Personal goals

Kohler has a "NetZero 2035" goal. Part of this milestone includes keeping our building efficient and healthy for the occupants. As we construct buildings and use LEED certification as our benchmark for efficiency, we want to make sure that they keep performing at a higher level. This will help us ensure we reach our goal and stay on track.

Biggest challenge

We’ve made a lot of progress with our 2035 goals and have a lot of people working hard on it. With the performance score, occupants are talking about improving transportation numbers despite the 60-mile radius of our commuters and their inconsistent schedules. Here in Wisconsin, in -20 F weather, riding a bicycle to work can be unrealistic among many other luxuries that a building in downtown San Francisco or Washington, D.C. might have. However, while transportation scores are significantly harder to maintain, our waste, water and energy scores are excellent and help us continue to focus on our recycling and composting programs. It is an exciting challenge, and this won’t be Kohler’s only plaque.

Follow the Dynamic Plaque Diaries as we profile buildings around the world that surpass their sustainability goals by engaging with the LEED Dynamic Plaque. 

Learn more about the LEED Dynamic Plaque