Your old kitchen probably wasn’t energy efficient or environmentally friendly. With a custom kitchen design you have the opportunity to change all that and reduce your carbon footprint.
A full remodel will probably include replacing old, drafty windows with energy efficient models. Talk to your designer about expanding the window space to allow more natural light to flood your kitchen during the day, decreasing the need for electrical light. There are numerous energy efficient lighting choices that will fit into your custom kitchen design. Use fluorescent lighting for large areas. Fluorescent lighting saves 50% to 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Use halogen or LED lighting for task and prep areas.
Fresh paint gives new life to any kitchen. Choose brands that do not emit VOC, (volatile organic compound), toxic gases and fumes into the air. Did you know that granite can emit off-gas into the air? Choosing non-porous counter surfaces such as natural quartz, recycled glass, or stone-chipped composite counter tops are better environmentally friendly and healthier options. Many of these materials resemble granite and are just as durable.
Do your cabinets really need to be replaced or can they be resurfaced? Cabinet resurfacing is quicker than replacements and can be just as beautiful. Resurfacing will keep your old cabinets out of the landfill and will save you money. If you truly need new cabinets, talk to your designer about having the old ones removed intact and donated to a non-profit group like Habitat for Humanity. Old appliances can also be donated.
New energy efficient appliances perform very well, save you money, and use less electricity than older appliances. When working with your designer, ask that the refrigerator be kept away from the windows. The sun causes it to work harder to stay cool. Side by side refrigerators are very popular, but consider top freezer/refrigerator units instead. There is no leakage of cold air and the unit works more efficiently. Convection ovens are great energy savers as they use a fan to drive heat rapidly from source to food, cooking 25% faster than conventional ovens. Choose a dishwasher with quick wash cycles and air-dry options to further cut down on energy waste.
Flooring is always important in a kitchen remodel. Some manufactured materials contain toxins that seep into the air. Cork flooring is a great environmentally friendly option. While it costs the same as hard wood, it is a sustainable material. It is harvested from the bark of the cork tree which regenerates every 9 years. That is a much shorter time than trees such as oak that can take 30 years or more to regenerate. Cork is also easier on your feet and joints than hardwood, yet it looks just as good.
There are many other ways to have your custom kitchen environmentally friendly. Add a water saving faucet and an under-mount water purifier. This purifier takes out 10 times more contaminants than a faucet mount does. Have pull out recycling bins built into your cabinetry. Instead of a traditional island, have a butcher block with recycled and re-purposed wood. Above all, buy locally. Not only will you keep carbon emissions down, but you will put money into your local economy.
Contact us to talk with a designer about creating your environmentally friendly custom kitchen.