By Glenn Hasek of Green Lodging News
I had an opportunity yesterday to take a tour of Moen’s headquarters facility in North Olmsted, Ohio. Most of you are probably familiar with Moen. They manufacture items for the kitchen and bathroom such as faucets, sinks and shower heads. A 2010 EPA WaterSense Partner of the Year, the company is helping its customers save millions of gallons of water every year. After my half-day at Moen, I don’t believe I will ever look at a faucet or shower head the same way again. While I did not get a chance to see products manufactured (production plants are outside of Ohio), I did have an opportunity to learn what takes place leading up to the point of manufacture. I was amazed at how much time is spent doing market research, brainstorming new product ideas, designing new products, creating test models, and then actually testing the products.
In the basement of the headquarters building there is actually a shower where, you guessed it, employees test new shower heads. During my visit, an engineer was photographing the water flow from a shower head. Yes, Moen is even concerned about the visual appearance of the water that flows from its products. Moen uses a lot of water in its testing process but I was told about 70 percent of that water is recycled. I was shown new prototypes that I will keep a secret here but let’s just say the shower experience of the future will have much more technology behind it.
Moen is constantly working on new ways to advance its sensor technology–good news for those interested in saving water using sensor-activated faucets, toilets and urinals. The good news for designers is that Moen, like its competitors, is making water conservation look good. Fixtures are available in many styles and finishes. Interestingly, Moen has copied nature to produce water flow spiral-shaped patterns in its shower heads. In the design world, this is called biomimicry.
I was joined yesterday on my tour with two other journalists. Moen is not an advertiser of mine; I am not trying to plug Moen. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Moen headquarters, or the research and development facility of any other vendor with whom you do business, I highly recommend it. You will walk away with a much greater appreciation of the product that is going to help you save money while minimizing your environmental impact.