Thinking Green When Remodeling Your Kitchen

If you are remodeling your kitchen and want to consider the impact on our environment in the process, you will find that “green” decisions are not easy or clear-cut. There are numerous considerations and many (sometime opposing) views. But, for this blog, we will present a few major items for you to consider.
Green considerations fall into several categories: materials used in remodeling (flooring, cabinetry, countertops, etc.), lighting, appliances, and even wall coverings. We will discuss each area and let you come to your own conclusions and decisions. Whatever your choice, it is a good thing to consider our environment in everything we do.

When it comes to choosing cabinets, most of your “green” options will not look any different from their alternatives. Some of the biggest considerations in “green” cabinetry are selecting woods that are sustainable and choosing manufacturers who use environmentally-friendly finishes and methods which recycle their wastes. Most of the mainstream hardwoods are sustainable such as oak, maple, and cherry. At Cabinet Discounters we also offer a new species of hardwood called Lyptus.  Eucalyptus trees grow quickly and may be harvested within 14 –16 years of planting, compared to a temperate forest, which may take 80 to 100 years or more to mature. We also offer products from manufacturers who use low volatile compound finishes to reduce air pollution and who recycle their waste wood and sawdust.

There are many new products out there for flooring and it can get quite confusing. Some encourage the use of bamboo, cork, or other materials that are quickly replaceable (sustainable). But others say that durability is the biggest consideration and these materials wear out too quickly; that durable materials like ceramic tile are the best. Another consideration is the energy used to manufacture the various products to reduce the impact on our environment. This is a very difficult area in which to decide and will require a lot of research on your part. Just because it claims to be “green” there may well be a hidden downside.

With countertops the popular granite is a natural material and is quite durable. The quartz manufactured stone materials are quite good also as they are made from recycled materials such as glass. Quartz offers many of the qualities of stone plus the benefit of being non-porous to resist stains. Be very careful of the new “trendy” materials as they may seem hot right now, but could easily become “old-fashioned” or regarded as a dead fad in five or ten years.

Lighting is now offering many new options to go green. Fluorescent is always a good option. You can use fluorescent spotlights in the ceiling, compact fluorescents in your appliances replacing the old incandescent light bulbs, and fluorescent under cabinet lighting. These bulbs are now available in a variety of temperatures (meaning color of the light) and no longer give only that harsh blue light. LED which uses even less energy and generates less heat is becoming more available and could be your best solution. These options will drastically reduce your electric consumption for lighting.

Appliances are a much easier consideration. Manufacturers are required to show on their labels the average power consumption making it easy to compare. The Energy Star designation indicates that they are a top contender for efficiency both in their manufacture and operation. Look for the Energy Star to make your comparison an easy job.

You have a couple of considerations in wall coverings – their durability and their impact on the environment. With paint, choose a very low V paint to minimize volatile emissions. But paint is more likely to need replacing before other alternatives such as wallpaper, paneling or tile. Again these are not easy decisions or clear-cut choices – so do your homework.

To get some more information and design ideas about countertops, check out the website of our supplier Creative InCounters. For some great kitchen design ideas, look at the Photo Gallery on our website CabinetDiscounters.com. For information about green cabinetry, check out the manufacturers’ association Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP).