Sustainable kitchen design, as most people think of it, primarily concerns the appliances you choose (water-saving dishwashers, energy-efficient refrigerators) and the materials you employ. Countertops, for instance, come in an array of recycled options, and cabinetry is produced from environmentally conscious substances, most notably ones free of urea-formaldehyde, a noxious chemical often found in household wood surfaces. Important though such choices are, it’s also essential to think big-picture.
Sustainable design is about using less to get more. Of course, a green lifestyle goes beyond decor but below are a few options in sustainable kitchen design that can help you get started.
Bamboo or Reclaimed Wood Cabinetry: The kitchen cabinetry makes up a good portion of the kitchen design. It is hard to think about how many trees were sacrificed to manufacture the cabinets.
Low VOC Paint: When selecting a paint for the kitchen walls, make sure to look for Low or Zero VOC paints. A great source for eco-friendly paint is Sherwin-Williams Harmony paint.
Change out kitchen appliances to more environmentally friendly options. Induction cooking is a new method of oven cooking that doesn’t use direct heat and has less of an impact on the environment. Or avoid using the oven as often by having a toaster oven. Toaster ovens can cook most food items and use much less energy than a conventional oven, especially if the kitchen additionally contains a separate pop-up toaster.
Energy Efficient Appliances: Things to look for when shopping for appliances are the energy star rating (refrigerator), energy factor rating (dishwasher), and an energy-efficient range hood. Check out the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) website for information on energy efficient appliances and appropriate ratings.
Recycled Countertops: Recycled countertops could be either recycled glass or sustainable wood. I have seen both reclaimed wood planks or butcher block countertops made from sustainable wood.
The majority of design budgets are spent in kitchens and bathrooms. Investing your money in sustainable products that are energy efficient and don’t deplete the environment of natural resources is one way to build a more responsible kitchen. It takes a little more thought, care, and consideration, but not necessarily more money.