Bosch Appliances with EcoOption
Already energy-efficient enough to exceed Energy Star standards, Bosch 500 and 800 series dishwashers and Nexxt clothes washers now offer EcoOption, a setting that saves even more energy. Pushing the EcoOption button on the dishwashers reduces energy usage by 25 percent; on the washers, it saves 20 percent.
Craft-Art Reclaimed Wood Countertops
Don't worry about deforestation with Craft-Art's eight new green countertop offerings: wood reclaimed from old barns, mills, river bottoms, swamps and even pickle vats. Species include quarter-sawn antique heart pine (shown here), sinker cypress, antique white oak, pickle vat redwood, barn red oak, barn white oak, American chestnut and tobacco barn beech.
Gaggenau 36-Inch Induction Cooktop
Syndecrete Composite Countertops
Made from cement and recycled materials such as plastic water bottles, post-consumer glass, post-industrial metal shavings and rubber tires, Syndecrete is a solid surface material with twice the strength and half the weight of concrete. Pre-cast slabs, tiles, sinks and tabletops come in 16 solid and 15 aggregate colors.
Ann Sacks Concrete Floor Tiles
Choosing Environmentally Friendly Building Products
Photo by Michael J. Lee Photography/Designer: Jessica Williamson, AKBD
This kitchen won the 2011 NKBA Design Award: Sustainable-Best of Kitchen
What makes a building product an environmentally sound choice? Outside of energy and water conservation, where it's relatively easy to quantify the environmental impact, you have multiple factors to consider. When it comes to choosing your materials for kitchen cabinets, counters and flooring, look for the following criteria:
Recycled content, whether post-consumer, post-industrial or agricultural waste
Ability to be recycled, reused or reconditioned when you're through with it
Durability: products with a long lifecycle need to be replaced less frequently
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification, identifying wood as harvested from a sustainable, well-managed forest
Rapidly renewable: Made from plants that grow to maturity quickly: cork, bamboo, cotton, etc.
Found in nature (stone, wood, etc.) and requiring minimum processing, which can create harmful chemicals and toxins
No pollutants: wood products without formaldehyde; low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, caulks, adhesives and sealants; flooring without PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
Noise absorbing or reducing properties
Locality: Transporting materials a long distance takes energy and pollutes the environment
How green you want to go is up to you. Re-using salvage items might be the most green option of all, but other approaches almost always have a trade-off to consider: for example, granite is a natural material, but importing it from overseas uses a large amount of energy, and quarries can damage the environment.
Read on to research specific cabinet, counter and flooring options.
Green Products Go Glam
12 High-Impact Green Ideas for Your Kitchen
A well-designed, attractive kitchen gives a home life. All that liveliness, though, is probably the single biggest energy drain in your home.
Lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for 41.5 percent of a home's energy consumption, according to U.S. Department of Energy estimates. Add to that regular kitchen activities like water heating, plus space heating and cooling, and you begin to get the picture of how critical the kitchen really is.
When you're remodeling, the kitchen presents a big opportunity to improve the home's energy performance. Broadening the scope of your project to include energy efficiency, ecological benefits, accessibility and health considerations will provide long-term cost savings, comfort, peace of mind and safety.
Here are 12 high-impact ideas for creating a "green" kitchen:
Available pre-assembled or in cabinet retrofit kits, kitchen recycling centers take the mess out of managing your recyclables. These modified cabinets can accommodate any kitchen style and cabinet size, and are available in a full range of cabinet materials.
Products manufactured from rapidly renewing forests can provide you with a beautiful, affordable and durable floor-and an environmentally responsible choice. Bamboo, cork, and eucalyptus mature in roughly half the time (or less) that it takes hardwoods, grown in colder climates, to reach market size.
Use materials that are durable and water-resistant for both counters and backsplashes. Stained concrete uses non-toxic, natural pigments rather than surface-applied stains. There is also the option of adding other recycled materials into the mixture. Many types of indigenous stone are available and can come from salvage and remnants. Make sure they are well sealed to prevent staining. Keep seams in counter top surface material at least 2 feet away from the sink and out of heavily used areas.
These pressure-activated, one-way mechanical valves are installed in plumbing drainlines in place of through-the-roof pipe venting. They operate with the discharge of wastewater, just like conventional plumbing vents. By eliminating piping and flashing, there is a net savings after the initial investment of $25 to $40. And they're durable.
Nothing improves the comfort and energy efficiency of a kitchen more than plenty of insulation in the exterior walls. To add insulation to existing homes, blow fibrous insulation material-fiberglass or natural materials like cellulose and mineral wool-into enclosed wall, floor and roof cavities. "Dense packing" the insulation inhibits air circulation within the cavities, thereby eliminating a major cause of condensation, moisture problems and air leakage.
Well-designed windows and skylights can lighten the feel of a kitchen. Energy Star-qualified products lighten the burden of energy bills as well. Homeowners can find greater comfort and significant savings-ranging from $110 to $400 a year-by replacing single-pane windows with Energy Star-qualified windows. These products use low-e glass with solar shading, which increases the room's comfort, protects items from sun damage and reduces condensation on windows.
Maximize natural lighting and provide task lighting. Lighting controls range from a simple outdoor light fixture with a built-in photosensor to whole-house programmable controls that allow fixtures to perform as task, safety or mood lighting. The cost of a control can often be offset by the first year's energy savings.
When buying a refrigerator, dishwasher or vent fan for your kitchen renovation, remember that it will have two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. Energy Star-qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models.
Consider resurfacing or refacing existing cabinets. Cabinets that are made with particleboard or fiberboard are likely to contain urea formaldehyde and are not resistant to moisture. However, sealing them with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint or stain or laminating with a new surface will seal the substrates.
If buying new cabinets, you have a few green options. Some solid wood cabinet lines have low-VOC emissions. Laminates and thermofoil cabinets can seal in VOCs contained in substrates. You also can look at cabinets made from agricultural fiber panels such as wheatboard and strawboard. Made from plant stems and sustainable binders, these materials are a good choice for areas that will not be subjected to wetting.
Many paints and finishes contain high levels of VOCs that produce potentially harmful gasses when applied. The VOCs diminish air quality and may be detrimental to your health. Today, low- and no-VOC paints are available almost anywhere. They release no or minimal VOC pollutants, and are virtually odor free. This improves the indoor air quality of the home, making it particularly safer for people with chemical sensitivity. Also, latex paints use water as their solvent and carrier, allowing both easier cleanup and generally lower toxicity.
Mold growth requires moisture and a food source. To improve moisture resistance, some gypsum board manufacturers have developed products with paperless coatings and gypsum cores. To reduce the risk of mold, a number of manufacturers chemically treat the paper on both sides of the gypsum board, while others eliminate the paper entirely and replace it with a gypsum-cellulose combination. Mold-resistant wall panels help maintain good indoor air quality while reducing the probability of costly replacement or remediation.
Induction cooking uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that that reacts with the ferric content in stainless steel, cast iron, and enameled steel cookware, exciting the molecules and producing heat. The cookware (and therefore the food) gets hot, but the stovetop doesn't. Less heat is wasted and the food heats faster, saving time and energy. Induction cooking is about 90 percent energy efficient as compared to gas and electric radiant, which are 50 to 60 percent efficient. Induction cooking is relatively new to the mass marketplace and currently retails at a premium.
Copyright 2006, The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH),www.pathnet.org. Adapted with permission.
How Home Energy Usage Adds Up
Looking at this data from the U.S. Department of Energy, it's easy to see that the kitchen and bathroom account for the majority of your home's energy usage. While that probably will always be the case, conscientious homeowners can make big cutbacks when remodeling or building a new kitchen.
There are five main components to consider when creating energy-efficient kitchens:
Appliances, especially the refrigerator and dishwasher. Look for high-efficiency models using the yellow and black Energy Guide label and blue Energy Star logo.
Lighting fixtures and light bulbs. Choose fluorescent fixtures and bulbs instead of incandescent; use dimmer switches and occupancy sensors.
Windows, doors and skylights. Weatherstrip existing windows or get new ones with low-e glazing, double panes and argon gas fill.
Insulation and air sealing. In addition to adding insulation to your walls, you can stop air leaks around windows and doors and in your ducts.
Heating and cooling equipment. This includes central and room air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, dehumidifiers and ceiling and ventilation fans.
In many cases, choosing energy-efficient options will add to the cost of products and installation. That increase can be offset, however, by tax rebates for energy efficiency and-over time-reduced utility bills. You should find your home a more comfortable and temperate place, too.
For more information on how to incorporate energy-efficiency into your kitchen, keep reading.
Consider These Green Materials & Resources for Your Kitchen
When it comes to green remodeling and construction, conserving materials is just as important as conserving energy and water. "Reduce, reuse, recycle" is the mantra of the conservation movement and applies to kitchens as well as to paper and plastic. Many building products can be recycled or reused, saving money as well as the environment.
For starters, don't take the Extreme Home Makeover approach to demolition. Running into your kitchen at full speed, sledgehammer in hand, might reduce stress levels, but it's also dangerous and wasteful. When carefully removed, cabinets, plumbing and lighting fixtures, appliances, countertops and hardware can be used in another room of your home, sold or traded via the Internet, or donated to a charitable organization.
When choosing products and materials for your own kitchen, look at salvage, resale and antique stores. You could score a one-of-a-kind find to customize your kitchen, or just find satisfaction in knowing that you saved a tree by using reclaimed lumber.
Materials exchanges allow businesses, nonprofits and individuals to trade, sell and buy surplus or used products, including a full range of building supplies. E-Bay is an obvious example, but many nonprofit and/or building supply specialty sites exist, too.
Reuse stores serve the same purpose as exchanges. Some only allow low-income homeowners or nonprofit agencies to shop. Others allow anyone to purchase, and donate profits to organizations that support affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity has a national network of Habitat ReStores run by its local chapters. These materials might include anything from last season's appliance models to a kitchen's worth of barely used cabinets that a homeowner replaced in a remodel.
Salvage stores tend to feature reclaimed, architecturally significant items such as wood planks from old barns or antique sinks. These items often don't fall into the "cheap" category, but they might be cheaper than buying brand new.
Architectural Salvage Warehouse
Build it Green! NYC
Astoria, Queens, New York
Building Materials Resource Center
Florida Victorian Architectural Antiques
The Green Project
New Orleans, Louisiana
Habitat for Humanity ReStores
The Loading Dock
Madison Stuff Exchange
Olde Good Things
Los Angeles, California
The ReBuilding Center
The ReCONNstruction Center
New Britain, Connecticut
ReNew Building Materials & Salvage
The ReUse People
Stardust Building Supplies