Building Industry News


American Standard Brands Acquired by LIXIL Corp.

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Congratulations to American Standard! LIXIL Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the share capital of the parent company of American Standard Brands.

“This transaction marks an exciting chapter in our 137-year history,” said Jay D. Gould, American Standard BrandsPresident and CEO. “We and our customers will surely benefit by combining LIXIL’s quality control, manufacturing technology and product development with American Standard’s sales networks, and I believe these will help the company maintain our position as a market leader.”

For more more information on this announcement, view the complete press release or email us.

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American Standard Partners with WaterAid to Provide Global Sanitation Solutions

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A new partnership between American Standard Brands and WaterAid seeks to save lives and improve access to safe sanitation in Bangladesh. Through their joint effort, hundreds of thousands of people in this developing country will receive a cost effective, sanitary toilet pan to help prevent the spread of disease and improve their standard of living.

“Our partnership with WaterAid plays a crucial role in raising the standard of safe sanitation in Bangladesh. We will be donating hundreds of thousands of our SaTo sanitary toilet pans to residents and institutions in Bangladesh, one for every Champion toilet sold here in North America,” said Jay Gould, president and CEO of American Standard Brands.

american standard flush for good safe sanitation campaign
In parts of the world like Bangladesh, where fresh water is scarce and sewer infrastructure does not exist, open pit latrines allow disease to spread through direct and indirect contact with human waste. Globally, lack of access to safe sanitation facilities causes 2,000 deaths each day, mainly among children.

The SaTo (pronounced SAH-toh, derived from “Safe Toilet”) uses ingeniously simple mechanical and water seals that reduce the transmission of disease by closing off pit latrines from the open air. After eight months of development at the company’s New Product Design Center in Piscataway, N.J., successful field testing on the SaTo was completed in Bangladesh in early 2013. Users especially appreciated how the small amount of water retained after each use created an airtight seal that reduced odors, as well.

For more information on this announcement view the complete press release or email us.

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Star Tribune Names Uponor North America to its Top 100 Workplaces

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Uponor North America President Bill Gray: “The passion and dedication that our employees bring to work every single day is inspiring. I’m proud to work beside such a talented group of people.”

Uponor North America (Uponor) has been named one of the Top 100 Workplaces in Minnesota, based on an employee-based survey project from the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune. Uponor was ranked 16th on the midsize company list.

Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions about organizational health, job expectations and employee engagement. The analysis included responses from more than 64,300 employees at Minnesota public, private and nonprofit organizations.

“This acknowledgement is about organizational health and employee engagement, so the biggest rewards are enjoyed every day by Uponorians working in a healthy and motivating environment,” says Jyri Luomakoski, Uponor president and CEO. “The team has not only improved the business, but also ensured that it is a place where people want to work, creating a sustainable base for continuous success.”

Published on June 16, the rankings in the Star Tribune Top 100 Workplaces are based on survey information collected by WorkplaceDynamics, an independent company specializing in employee engagement and retention. To qualify for the Star Tribune Top Workplaces, a company must have more than 50 employees in Minnesota. Nearly 1,900 companies were invited to participate. Rankings were composite scores calculated purely on the basis of employee responses.

Star Tribune Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith said, “The companies in the Star Tribune Top 100 Workplaces deserve high praise for creating the very best work environments in the state of Minnesota. My congratulations to each of these exceptional companies.”

Uponor North America President Bill Gray adds that the Star Tribune’s Top 100 Workplace recognition is a great honor. “This truly is a great place to work. The passion and dedication that our employees bring to work every single day is inspiring. I’m proud to work beside such a talented group of people.”

For more information, see:

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Uponor Wins PPI Project of the Year

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Among the Exploratorium’s green innovations: a PEX-based radiant system that uses the San Francisco Bay as a giant heat sink and heat source.

On May 7, the Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI), a manufacturing-based trade association, announced the Pier 15 Exploratorium as their Project of the Year in the Building/Construction division. The project showcases 200,000 feet of Uponor North America’s Wirsbo hePEX™ crosslinked polyethylene (PEX-a) tubing for the unique radiant heating and cooling system that uses the San Francisco Bay as a heat sink/heat source.

The project, designed by EHDD Architecture of San Francisco and engineered by Integral Group of Oakland, renovated a century-old building on San Francisco’s Pier 15 into the largest net-zero energy and net-zero carbon museum in the United States. The 330,000-square-foot, LEED-Gold structure is projected to be 57% more efficient than the ASHRAE 90.1 energy standard requires, thanks in part to the Uponor radiant heating and cooling system.

“We are very proud to receive this recognition by our peers in the plastics pipe industry,” says Bill Gray, president, Uponor North America. “The Pier 15 Exploratorium is an excellent example of the benefits of flexible plastic pipe and how it can transform a historic building into an impressively sustainable project.”

For more information, see

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Uponor Expanding for Fifth Time to Meet Demand

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Uponor’s North American headquarters in Apple Valley, Minn., is expanding for the fifth time to add 17,500 sq. ft. of manufacturing space.

Beginning in May, Uponor North America will be breaking ground at its headquarters facility in Apple Valley, Minn., to add 17,500 square feet of manufacturing space to help meet forecasted growth for crosslinked polyethylene (PEX) tubing for plumbing, fire sprinkler and radiant heating and cooling systems. This will be the fifth expansion for the 1990-built facility, bringing the total space to 230,000 square feet, which houses the North American corporate offices, manufacturing and Uponor Academy, the company’s onsite training center.

“We are projecting substantial growth for our PEX product in the commercial and residential markets for plumbing, fire sprinkler and radiant floor heating and cooling systems,” says Uponor North America President Bill Gray. “This expansion will allow us to continue our growth in the PEX marketplace and ensure we can meet current and future customer demand.”

The expansion, set to be complete by October 2013 with a planned occupancy date of late December, will also include 3,000 square feet of employee service areas, including an expanded lunch room, locker rooms, restrooms and outdoor seating. “We are a 24/7 operation, so we’re making PEX tubing every minute of every day,” says Rusty Callier, director of Operations at Uponor. “We want to make sure we have sufficient space to manufacture the tubing, as well as provide a positive and productive environment for the employees who are making the tubing.”

The company is not just expanding its footprint, but also its workforce. On April 18, the facility hosted an onsite job fair which brought in more than 60 candidates looking for manufacturing and maintenance positions. Additionally, the company was awarded the 2013 Manufacturer of the Year award from the Manufacturers Alliance, recognizing the company’s lean manufacturing operations and processes.

“This is an exciting time at Uponor,” says Callier. “We are not only expanding our facility and growing our workforce, but we are also being recognized by our peers in the manufacturing industry. It’s rewarding to be part of an organization that is continuing to invest in its future.”

For more information, visit

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Uponor Named 2013 Manufacturer of the Year by Manufacturers Alliance

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From left, Apple Valley Chamber of Commerce President Ed Kearney; Uponor North America President Bill Gray; Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland; and Manufacturers Alliance President Art Sneen

On April 11, Uponor was honored as the 2013 Manufacturer of the Year in the large-company category by the Manufacturers Alliance, an association providing peer-to-peer training, education and resources which allow Midwest manufacturing companies to continuously grow, improve and stay competitive.

“We are honored to receive this recognition and award and are privileged to be part of the Manufacturers Alliance where we not only share our best practices, but where we also learn from others,” said Uponor North America President Bill Gray.

The event began with Apple Valley Mayor Mary Hamann-Roland presenting a Certificate of Commendation from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and a video from Senator Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] sending her congratulations and support to the manufacturing community. Last year, Klobuchar visited Uponor and took a tour of the manufacturing facility as part of her “Made in America” economic tour.

Uponor is a relative newcomer to the Manufacturers Alliance’s Manufacturer of the Year awards. In fact, last year was the first year the company was nominated and came in as runner-up. “I am excited for Uponor and for our employees,” said Rusty Callier, director of Operations. “This award validates what we have accomplished and will be used as a springboard to sustained success.”

The Manufacturers Alliance chose Uponor due to several lean and operational efficiencies the company had experienced in the past year, including:

  • Improving Overall Equipment Efficiency (OEE) by 7.8%
  • Decreasing Non-value Added (NVA) by 19%
  • Decreasing scrap rate by 9%
  • Decreasing Variable Production Cost (VPC) by 6.3%
  • Improving lacquer lines changeover from three and a half hours to 10 minutes
  • Improving pipe recoil changeover from 45 minutes to two minutes
  • Best year for reducing severity and frequency of accidents
  • Sharing lean processes with office personnel, resulting in a new product catalog lean process that reduced production costs by 21% and production time from 207 days to 30 days

On July 31, 2012, Uponor was asked to be one of two companies on the Manufacturers Alliance Tour of Excellence, to showcase its outstanding accomplishments in operational improvements. Topics included tier management, Continuous Improvement (CI) boards, A3 projects, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and Manufacturing Execution System (MES).

“Our 2012 body of work has not only allowed us to make great strides in our business, but also in our belief that we are a learning organization that must invest in learning and benchmarking to stay competitive,” said Callier. “Through participating in Manufacturers Alliance training, holding training events and plant tours, hosting peer meetings and participating in numerous site visits set up through peer groups, we continue to learn from other Manufacturers Alliance members.”

For more information, please visit  A special video regarding the award can be viewed at

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Uponor Systems in New Habitat for Humanity Eco Village Homes

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Besides being an anchor partner, Uponor donated product as well as employee volunteer time to the Eco Village project.

On Sunday, April 7, the first four families received keys to their homes in the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity® Eco Village project in River Falls, Wis. Among the sustainable features in the homes, including solar, geothermal and rainwater harvesting, are plumbing, fire sprinkler and radiant floor heating systems from Uponor, Inc. Developed in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the City of River Falls, the University of Wisconsin, Frisbie Architects and the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development, Eco Village is a master-planned community, featuring LEED® Platinum, carbon-negative, net-zero energy use homes.

“We are proud to be an anchor partner for the Eco Village project and to also have all our systems in the homes,” says Ingrid Mattsson, director of Brand Management for Uponor and a member of the company’s Sustainability Team. “Eco Village is the essence of a sustainable design that brings homes, family living and community together into one cohesive plan.”

Started in the spring of 2012, the Eco Village project consists of 18 home sites and a community center on five acres of land that share renewable energy systems (solar and geothermal), walkways, community produce gardens, edible landscapes, green spaces and a proposed fleet of shared electric automobiles for the neighborhood.

As with all Habitat for Humanity projects, the homeowners donate time to constructing their own homes with the help of volunteers. Since the groundbreaking in the spring of 2012, several Uponor employees have volunteered their time at the project site with the help of the company’s paid volunteer time off (VTO) program.

“At Uponor, we truly believe in the triple-bottom line approach to sustainability that aligns people, planet and profit,” says Mattsson. “Being an anchor partner in the Eco Village project, having our product in the homes and having our employees volunteer at the site is a perfect example of our mission.”

For more information on this project, please visit…


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Noritz NRC661 Tankless Water Heater Delivers High Performance, Lower Installation Costs

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The NRC661 (left) measures approximately 14 inches x 24 inches x 6 inches, allowing it to fit neatly into small spaces, such as a closet.

The ENERGY STAR®-rated NRC661 from Noritz America makes choosing a high-efficiency, tankless water heater for the home more affordable than ever, especially when replacing a storage-tank-type unit.

Featuring the same energy-saving condensing technology as the rest of the Noritz eco-TOUGH™ Series of gas-fired residential tankless water heaters, the NRC661 has an Energy Factor of 0.91 for natural gas and 0.93 for LP. These ratings are nearly 10 points higher than that of a comparably sized, conventional tankless unit, and approximately 30 points higher than a standard, tank-type gas-fired water heater.

Half-inch gas connection: But the bigger news is that the market’s smallest condensing tankless water heater can deliver 6.6 gallons per minute, with a maximum input of 120,000 BTU per hour (BTUh), using a half-inch gas line up to 120 feet in length. A new, more accurate interpretation of the National Fuel Gas Code permits the use of the smaller-diameter gas piping for inputs up to 174,000 BTUh, as long as the water column pressure at the inlet of the unit is a minimum eight inches.

“We expect the NRC661 to challenge the conventional thinking that switching from tank to tankless water heating is unavoidably difficult and expensive,” says Noritz marketing manager Jason Fleming. “The new unit will not only carry a lower price point than our other condensing models, but its ability to use a half-inch gas connection will eliminate the need to up-size to a 3/4-inch run in replacement situations. That, in turn, should cut installation labor in half, resulting in a reduced installed cost to the homeowner.”

For more information on the NRC661-DV and NRC661-OD condensing tankless water heaters, visit the new “Quality Meets Value” microsite at For a full press release and hi-res images, visit

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American Standard Seeks to Raise Global Standard of Living through Safer Sanitation

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American Standard, the leading toilet manufacturer in North America, has launched a campaign to increase awareness of safe sanitation practices to help protect the health of all people through well-engineered plumbing solutions.

American Standard Sanitary Toilet Pan

The use of open pit latrines in developing countries allows disease to spread through direct and indirect contact with human waste, resulting in upwards of 2,000 deaths per day, mainly among children.

American Standard engineers have invented SaTo (pronounced SAH-toh, derived from “Safe Toilet”), a cost-effective hygienic latrine pan that uses an ingeniously simple mechanical seal and water seal to reduce disease transmission by closing off pit latrines from the open air.

The company will donate hundreds of thousands of these pans to Bangladesh in 2013, one for each of its top-rated Champion brand toilets sold in North America.

For more information on this announcement, view the complete press release or email us.

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Uponor Adds Commercial Plumbing Course to Factory Training Schedule

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Uponor recently announced its factory training schedule for 2013, which includes a new course on commercial plumbing applications. The course, which is eligible for continuing education units (CEUs), focuses on codes and standards, pipe sizing, unit piping, riser piping, distribution piping, public and service piping, and design and installation practices.

“We are continuing our momentum in the commercial plumbing sector by offering several options for professionals to learn more about Uponor PEX-a piping systems,” says Wes Sisco, training manager at Uponor. “This includes webinars, field training and now factory training with our newly constructed Commercial Plumbing Applications Lab.”

The new Commercial Plumbing Applications Lab features all of Uponor’s products and systems for suspended piping, risers, in-suite and out-of-the-wall plumbing systems to showcase the benefits of the flexible, durable pipe in real-world applications.

The two-day Commercial Plumbing Applications course is available six times throughout the year beginning in March. Attendees who complete the course are eligible for CEUs to meet continuing education requirements.

The 2013 Uponor Academy factory training schedule also includes Radiant Hydronics and Design with Controls and Advanced Radiant Hydronics with Advanced Design Suite™ (ADS), which are also eligible for CEUs.

To learn more about Uponor Academy factory training courses and to register, visit


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