While the business of kitchen and bath design can be complex and multifaceted, it remains a universal truth that consumers prefer to patronize companies that care about more than just the bottom line. Dealers, designers and manufacturers that are active in giving back tend to build stronger bonds with their community, and set an example for others.
As such, Kitchen and Bath Design News’ Charitable Endeavors department spotlights companies’ efforts to give back to the community. This month’s Charitable Endeavors looks at a competition geared toward the implementation of safe sanitation in several impoverished countries.
Safe sanitation is something many Americans take for granted. However, sanitation is an ongoing problem in many parts of the world. There are areas where clean water and safe waste removal are enormously problematic, creating health crises worldwide.
American Standard Brands, in an effort to do its part, announced its support of Team USA in the WorldSkills Foundation’s inaugural Water Innovation Challenge in Singapore. This event joined international teams of young plumbers and engineers in a series of hands-on design challenges aimed at improving the quality of life, health, hygiene and sanitation in developing countries.
Throughout three days of intense competition, teams developed a series of real and innovative solutions for the emerging water and sanitation problems in two targeted countries: Nepal and Bangladesh. The goal of the competition was to raise awareness of this global crisis caused by a lack of clean water and safe sanitation facilities worldwide. The competition – held June 3-5, 2014 at the Institute of Technical Education – coincided with Singapore International Water Week.
Douglas Nelson of the Milwaukee School of Engineering headed Team USA. The Team used the SaTo hygienic toilet pan, invented by American Standard engineers, as the basis for the sanitation solutions participants created at the competition. The SaTo sanitary toilet pan, unveiled in early 2013, was designed specifically to work without sewer infrastructure in rural communities in Bangladesh. The SaTo uses simple mechanical and water seals to close off pit latrines from the open air, thereby reducing the transmission of disease and odor.
At the Water Innovation Challenge, Team USA used the SaTo as a key component in creating a composting toilet system that will produce fertilizer for crops. The team was also responsible for creating installation instructions without using words or numbers, ensuring that their system can be easily installed by anyone, regardless of their language or literacy.
Jay Gould, president and CEO of American Standard Brands said, “It is an inspiration to us all to see these young plumbers and engineers put their skills to use developing sanitation systems that can save lives and improve quality of life around the world. We are proud to support Team USA in the Water Innovation Challenge and look forward to seeing the design advancements they create during this competition.”
Products created during the competition will be implemented by the winning team in the WSF Sanitation Studio program, which was created as a partnership between Australian NGO Healthabitat and WSF. Design toolkits created by all teams will be made available for other NGOs to use in their own plumbing and sanitation work.
Currently, 2.5 billion people in the world lack access to adequate sanitation facilities. Every day, 2,000 children die from diseases caused by lack of a proper sanitation system. The United Nations has set a 2015 Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people who lack access to basic sanitation, as well as safe drinking water.
Coinciding with the creation of the SaTo, American Standard Brands launched its Flush for Good campaign, which is aimed at increasing awareness of the global sanitation crisis and creating innovative solutions to help stop it. As part of that program, the company donated over 530,000 SaTo sanitary toilet pans in 2013 to help reduce the transmission of disease and provide a safer sanitation system in Bangladesh.
Last year, American Standard announced an official Commitment to Action with the Clinton Global Initiative, pledging to improve sanitation systems, as well as the quality of life, for three million people around the globe between 2014 and 2017. Including the 2.5 million residents of Bangladesh receiving safer sanitation assistance during 2013 and 2014, American Standard will reach an estimated 5.5 million people by 2017, the firm notes.