Sustainable Green Kitchen Remodeling Has Many Benefits
You may or may not believe in global warming, but I hope you agree that choosing to remodel your kitchen sustainably makes sense. Agreed, sustainable green kitchen remodeling is good for our planet, but it can also save you money and create a healthier home environment for you and your family.
“Green” Products for Sustainable Kitchen Remodeling
Many companies are manufacturing products that save precious resources. There have also been reports of companies that do nothing more than use sustainability buzz words to trick us into buying their not-so-green products. The best way to protect our environment and your bank account is to do some research before you buy anything. Here is information about companies and products with proven positive “green” track records:
- Refrigerators: Searched Energy Star for 36″ wide, bottom-freezer models, got 29 results from major manufacturers. Only one manufacturer was unfamiliar to me. There’s also a 2015 list for the most efficient refrigerators.
- Dishwashers: Energy Star lists 696 models from 49 manufacturers. Energy Star has two dishwashers that qualify for their 2015 most efficient list.
- Ovens: Energy Star qualifies only commercial ovens. This does not include “Professional” ovens from popular residential manufacturers.
- Microwave Ovens: Energy Star qualifies only commercial microwave ovens.
- Ranges: Energy star qualifies only commercial ranges. This does not include “Professional” ranges from popular residential appliance manufacturers.
- Exhaust hoods: Several manufacturers, including Air King, Best, Broan, and GE. The Energy Star site does not show specific manufacturers and models; information was gathered in a general search
for “Energy Star Kitchen Exhaust Hoods”.
- Cabinets: Many articles have been written about bamboo cabinets. The nature of bamboo is not conducive for making traditional raised-panel doors and drawers, and other details. But bamboo is a wonderful material for contemporary-style slab doors and drawers. The best cabinet option for your sustainable green kitchen remodeling is to use Forest Service Certified (FSC) domestic hardwood: Alder, ash, birch, cherry, hickory, mahogany, maple, pecan, poplar, oak, and walnut. The Green Cabinet Source has a list of manufacturers who use FSC wood and comply with the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). Unfortunately, the link is broken and I’ve contacted the website administrator.
- One aspect of sustainable green kitchen remodeling is using storage accessories that maximize every inch of available space. There are recycling bins, pantry units, spice drawers, tray dividers, rollout shelves, etc.. If you compost (or want to start), you need a Kitchen Compost Caddy!
- Countertops: This is one area where manufacturers can “green wash” their marketing to mislead consumers. While engineered stone is technically an eco-friendly material, most of it is manufactured in other countries and brought to the U.S. on container ships, then distributed by trucks and railroads to resellers and fabricators. The only American-made engineered stone is Cambria. Other eco-friendly countertops are Paperstone, Richlite, and Vetrazzo. Read more about kitchen and bathroom countertops.
- Backsplashes: Tile is still a popular material, because it blends with other materials and adds character. Many manufacturers offer tile products with pre- and post-consumer materials, and many provide LEED information. Some of my favorites are: American Olean, DalTile, Emser, Florida Tile, and United Tile. These (and other) manufacturers also provide recycled glass tiles to fit any style, color scheme, or budget.
- Flooring: We are fortunate to have a wide selection of sustainable kitchen products available:
- Engineered wood. It’s a thin layer of veneer applied over a plywood substrate, prefinished with a durable urethane. Some brands can be refinished up to three times before needing replacement.
- Solid FSC wood. It must be finished after installation with a durable, low-VOC urethane.
- Bamboo. This is a fast-growing renewable resource.
- Cork. It’s a plentful renewable resource.
- Linoleum, “Marmoleum”. This may require more upkeep than you want.
- Tile. All of the manufacturers listed above, and many others, have tile products that look like real wood as well as other patterns.
- Lighting: LED lighting is the best there is, and the future looks very bright!
- Paint, Stain, finishes, etc.: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), as defined by Wikipedia, “are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature.” Use only low-VOC paints, stains and finishes, to avoid health risks and harming the environment.
LEED was referred to above. It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March of 2000. They promote sustainable practices and products for commercial buildings and residences. The USGBC has information about sustainable green kitchen remodeling sponsored by Kohler.
In the past several weeks, I’ve written about important aspects of kitchen remodeling, with at least two more to follow, to help you achieve a functional and safe kitchen that’s responsibly sustainable and aesthetically perfect for your needs. The project featured in today’s tip was designed as part of a new sustainable retro-modern home that uses aging-in-place principles.
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