Kitchen and bath fixture manufacturer Kohler Co. is one of nine Wisconsin businesses that are splitting nearly $14.7 million in state-distributed federal stimulus funds intended to help these companies make their production more energy-efficient.

Kohler, which is based in Wisconsin and one of the state's biggest employers, received $1.7 million. Other recipients include the power equipment engine maker Briggs & Stratton ($1.3 million) and Domtar Paper ($870,000).

“Wisconsin has a tremendous opportunity to be one of the greenest manufacturing states in the country,” said Gov. Jim Doyle, who formally announced the grant winners Thursday. “With this funding, we will be able to help these companies become more energy-efficient, so they can retain their competitive edge, reduce energy costs and carbon emissions, and create good-paying jobs to support Wisconsin families.”

The state’s Focus on Energy Renewable Energy Program is administering the distribution of these funds, which were awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Wisconsin estimates this allocation would help create and save more than 400 jobs.

Even before receiving this grant, Kohler has been an environmentally conscious manufacturer. In October, the EPA’s WaterSense program chose Kohler as Manufacturer of the Year for the second consecutive year for its efforts to promote efficient water use. In August, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded LEED Silver status to Kohler’s Environmental, Health and Safety Building, where through several structural enhancements and the installation of monitoring devices during an 18-month period, Kohler had reduced the building’s water use by 50%.

In related news, the federal government is also distributing $3.1 million to three Wisconsin companies to create green jobs. These include a startup called Helios USA, which will use its $1 million allocation to make residential solar panels. Nature Tech, another startup, will use its $800,000 grant to make insulation from recycled newsprint and create 47 jobs, according to the Associated Press. A third recipient is battery maker ZBB Energy, which is receiving $1.3 million and will retain 26 positions and create 175 others.

John Caulfield is senior editor at BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Madison, WI.