How to Green Your Dream Kitchen

Mary Butler

Americans spend more money remodeling their kitchens than any other room. And it makes sense. The kitchen is where families gather to not only cook and eat, but also to do homework, pay bills, entertain guests, and even watch television. The kitchen is the heart of the home--and it is also where you can easily make or break your commitment to doing an environmentally responsible remodel.

The words "dream kitchen" most likely conjure a specific image in your mind: perhaps you envision granite countertops, gleaming commercial-grade appliances, and rich dark-wood cabinets. Thankfully, there's very likely no reason why you can't realize your dream kitchen and still be green.

Remodeling: From Countertops to Cabinets
Countertops are the item kitchen remodelers are most likely to splurge on, according to the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence's 2008 Remodelers 360: Trend Report. Countertops are a focal point, so they must be attractive, but they've also got to be tough. Granite is often cited as a favorite material due to its beauty and amazing durability, which withstands the heat of pots of pans. It's a natural material, but a nonrenewable one. There are better, more sustainable choices that don't involve the destructive practice of quarrying mountains.

Consider countertops made from composites or recycled glass, cement, or plastic. Resins used in these eco-countertops should be low in volatile organic compounds and, in the case of countertops made from recycled paper, look for Forest Stewardship Council certification.
Similarly, you want to choose kitchen cabinets and flooring that is sustainable and won't off-gas chemicals. FSC-certified hardwoods are one choice, bamboo (a fast -growing grass), and wheatboard, made from compressed straw, are two other options to consider.

Invest in Energy Efficiency
Refrigerators use more electricity than any other appliance simply because they're always on. Refrigerators with top or bottom freezers are generally more efficient than side-by-side models. Look for the Energy Star rating for all appliances. Energy Star-qualified refrigerators, for example, use half as much energy as refrigerators manufactured before 1993.

You can take other steps to maximize energy efficiency including positioning your fridge away from heat sources such as your oven, windows, and your dishwasher. And be sure to recycle your old refrigerator.

Consumer Reports
Energy Star
Kitchen and Bath Design News

About the Author

Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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