Remodeling Your Kitchen to Make it Greener

Your kitchen remodel can be as green as you want. You can reuse or refinish materials, add natural lighting, or choose renewable resources. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you decide.

Reuse or Replace in Your Kitchen Remodel? “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” is a mantra that has been around for decades, and it’s still the basis of the green movement. Reduce what you use, reuse what you can, and recycle what is left. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, look for opportunities to reduce the raw materials, especially nonrenewable resources, and to reuse anything that you can.

• If your cabinets are in good condition and you like their size and layout, you can use some or all of them, even if changing the configuration of your kitchen. If they aren’t quite what you want in the kitchen, consider moving them to a craft room, play room, or storage area.

• Functioning appliances, especially if they are Energy Star rated, can be reused and often refinished to match your new kitchen. Newer high-end models have panels that are customizable to match the rest of the kitchen.

If some of your fixtures are still functioning, usable, or otherwise in good shape but will not match the new design of your kitchen remodel, consider reusing AND recycling by donating those items to charitable organizations such as ReStore, which uses the proceeds towards building Habitat for Humanity homes. Check your local charitable organizations or join a list such as Freecycle to pass on your gently used items.

Another option to recycle your fixtures is to resell them. Online sites such as Craig’s List or local community bulletin boards, online or at the grocery store, can help you reach others who want a green remodel or who want to save some dollars. Your Case kitchen remodeling expert can help you with local resources.

Research Greener Cabinets for your Kitchen Remodel Perhaps the most visible part of a kitchen remodel, your eco-friendly kitchen cabinets need to be functional, practical, and well made. There are an increasing number of cabinet materials on the market that make it easier to “choose green.” Ensure any glue and finish is low volatile organic compound (VOC), which helps prevent harmful offgassing. A few options include:

• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood – FSC “supports responsible forest management worldwide” and their certified label “ensures that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources.” If you choose solid new-wood cabinets, ensure they are made from FSC certified wood.

• Reclaimed or Recovered wood – reusing “old” wood is a growing trend in kitchen remodeling. You get a connection to the past when you use reclaimed wood from old barns or historic buildings. There are also opportunities to use recovered, unused wood, such as from sunken logs. Either reuse can provide woods that are difficult to find today, such as American Chestnut or Elm. (Some reused wood is also FSC certified.)

• Bamboo – a renewable resource, bamboo is a sturdy material with a modern look. It often travels a great distance from plant to your home, so keep that in mind when weighing the environmental impact. It is increasingly grown worldwide, so check local shops first. Charles Hendricks, a Harrisonburg, Virginia, architect dedicated to sustainable solutions, recommends using local suppliers when you can, as well as using recycled materials and shopping for durable and long-lasting fixtures, all key elements of eco-friendly kitchen remodeling.

Don’t forget your countertops. From recycled glass to locally-harvested and processed bamboo, concrete, or soapstone, the counters you choose in your kitchen remodel can be as environmentally friendly as you’d like. Choosing “greener” options helps keep harmful chemicals from leaching into the air around you.

Research Energy Efficient Appliances for Your Kitchen Remodel Energy efficient appliances are not only environmentally friendly, but they are friendly to your wallet over time. They may even qualify for tax rebates and help with the resale value of your home. The Energy Star certification program establishes energy-efficiency standards for some of the most-used kitchen appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers.

• Dishwashers – If your old dishwasher needs replacing, be prepared for a pleasant surprise. According to the Energy Star website, you may save $40 a year and over 10 gallons of water per cycle when you upgrade to an Energy Star rated model. Look for models with several cycles so you can run it when half full without using the same amount of water and energy as a full load. Also consider the size you need. If you regularly only half fill your current dishwasher, consider a compact variety which may use less energy. Finally, don’t rinse your dishes. If you scrape off the food, most of today’s dishwashers are designed to handle what’s left.

• Refrigerators – Adding an energy-efficient refrigerator and/or freezer to your kitchen remodel will also save you a few dollars on your annual electrical usage. Get a fridge that fits your family without a lot of empty space. A family of two may not need the largest refrigerator on the market. Also weight amenities that may add to convenience but are not always the greenest choice. For example, indoor ice makers can use around 10% of the total energy of a refrigerator.

Add Windows and Light During Your Kitchen Remodel A kitchen remodel is the perfect time to get the lighting you’ve always wanted. Adding additional natural light, whether by skylights, light tubes, or windows, allows you to work in the kitchen during the day without depending on artificial light sources. Large windows also contribute to an increased feeling of openness.

Localized task lighting is also a green choice. Rather than turning on overhead lights, you can focus the light where you need it. Pendant lighting and under-cabinet are two options.

Ready to Remodel Your Kitchen to Make it Greener?

Talk with a Case kitchen remodeling specialist, who will help you plan for and make decisions the right decisions. Find a local kitchen remodeling company near you today.

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