Sustainable Kitchen Design


Kitchen with wood tones and white kitchen with stainless steel refrigerator

Today’s homeowner is more apt to make conscious decisions about their homes. We all want to have the best possible green design for different reasons. Whether it be to be kinder to Mother Earth or to prevent problems with allergies. Here are a few ways to make your home a sustainable home. The basic objectives of sustainability are to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimize waste, and create healthy, productive environments.

Cabinet boxes: Today’s cabinets are made either of plywood or particle board and have become a major sustainable design trend concern. There is a lot of speculation as to which product is more superior. Many like the use of plywood because it has inherent strength in its laminated layers and has superior screw ability. Cabinet manufacturers like to use particle board because it has a more uniform thickness, which allows for higher tolerances when cutting. Installers like plywood because it isn’t as heavy to install. Both material types meet the CARB2 compliance. This 2010 California based law limits the formaldehyde emissions from plywood and particle board.

Kitchen remodel with high-quality, custom cabinets

Cabinet doors and finish: In addition to CARB2 compliant cabinet boxes, the aesthetic everyone sees are the doors. Woods like bamboo and engineered veneers (EV) are perfect for slab door selections. EV comes in as bamboo, oak, walnut, and cherry and many exotic wood species. Bamboo specifically is a sustainable material that requires a lot less energy to nurture and regenerates from the remains of harvested trees. The alternative to wood doors, MDF (medium density fiberboard) doors typically have less problems with shrinkage and swelling of the material. MDF is great for painted doors for these very reasons.

To take it a step further, green-core can be specified for the cabinet doors. Green-core is a completely recycled material used for slab doors. Wood for the doors is typically sourced from forests in the United States. Crystal Cabinet Works also partakes with Forests for All, Forever through the Forest Stewardship Council and has been a part of the program since 2009. In addition to the CARB2 compliant cabinet boxes, Crystal Cabinets are made locally in Princeton, MN. Less truck pollution on the highways! Reducing delivery distances has a positive impact on the project’s carbon footprint.

Often people are also concerned about the chemical fumes from paint and stain. These smells come from the harmful chemicals – or volatile organic compound – in VOC paints. They are environmentally harmful not only to the environment but also to your health. Crystal Cabinet Works employs only the use of low or no VOC paint and stain for the cabinets.

Remodeled kitchen with bookshelf for added storage at the end of the appliance wall

Appliances: Another way to improve your sustainable kitchen is by using an energy-efficient appliances. Switching to eco-friendly Energy Star labeled appliances are now easier than ever thanks to the variety of options available today. For example, refrigeration technology is constantly changing methods in keeping your food fresher longer. A new refrigerator typically uses 40% less energy than a model sold in 2001. You can tell how efficient a product is through its energy rating.

A good dishwasher can save on the amount of water used compared to handwashing. Today’s dishwashers use an average of 4-5 gallons of water per load. Hand washing uses between 5 and 15 gallons of water depending on your washing style. Dishwashers are perfect even if you never fill it all the way!

In terms of cooking appliances, using an induction cooktop or range is more energy-efficient than either gas or electric stoves because of its use of electromagnetism. Electromagnetism is a kind of radiation including visible light, radio waves, gamma rays, and X-rays, in which electric and magnetic fields vary simultaneously. An induction range heats water at a much faster rate than traditional gas or electric. Induction is also deemed as one of the safest ways to cook. The surface is only hot when a magnetic pot or pan is on it. You’ll save time, energy, and money by using induction. When trying to go green, you’ll want to invest in energy-efficient appliances.

Garbage Disposals: A garbage disposal is another great feature of a sustainable kitchen. This will be installed in your kitchen sink, reducing food waste that goes in your garbage bins and ultimately to a landfill. Instead, food waste goes through your garbage disposal unit and directly down the sewage system. It’s then treated in sewage treatment plants and used to benefit the environment. Some of these plants will capture any methane gas that is released by food waste more efficiently than a landfill and can convert it to a green energy source. Along with the garbage disposal, having a location in the kitchen for recycling plastics, paper, and metals is a convenient way to gather nonfood waste for weekly pick up.

Bold kitchen renovation with black base cabinets, white upper cabinets, wood floor, and large island

Lighting: LED lights are highly efficient and environmentally friendly light sources for your kitchen. They are 90% more efficient than either incandescent, fluorescent, or compact fluorescent lamps. LED lights also typically have a longer lifespan than any of the other light sources. Using less energy reduces the demand from power plants and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. They also offer a higher quality of light distribution meaning fewer lights are needed to achieve the same level of brightness as traditional lighting. You not only save on electricity but also on non-biodegradable wastes. As an added bonus, LED light bulbs are recyclable… another plus!

Don’t rush the design. A sustainable kitchen is a worthwhile project to undertake and therefore needs careful, thoughtful planning and design. You don’t want to regret your choices a few months, or even years, down the line and need to replace items. Good design will save you money on future repair and replacement of cheap, low-quality materials. More importantly, an environment-friendly, sustainable kitchen design promises you more durable and long-lasting materials. It’s better to make a good investment once that will last a long time.

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