Wednesday, April 18, 2007

being green

let's say, hypothetically, you were considering renovating your kitchen and you wanted to be as environmentally friendly as possible- this is an email that i would, hypothetically, write to you.

I've been thinking about your kitchen remodel and thought I'd pass along some info that was helpful to us when we remodeled. A good place to start is with The Green Guide, they are an excellent resource for all things environmentally friendly.

Ikea Kitchens are great, although, if you are looking to do the whole "green" thing, its not the best option as the cabinets and counters are made from compressed particle board, which is a big green no no because of off gassing VOCs. But if you do go Ikea, I've heard good things about them and Ken's cousin has had one for the last ten years and has no complaints. They tend to use wood that is from managed forests, which is a plus. For example:

For an extra food-prep surface and storage, try Ikea's kitchen carts made of solid birch from well-managed forests. The Bekvam ($49.99) is unfinished; the Forhoja ($79.99) is finished with a clear nitrocellulose lacquer and larger, with drawers that pull out from two directions and two shelves, each with space for nine bottles.
(From The Green Guide)

This is a great article from the Washington Post about a Green Kitchen Renovation

A Recent Article from NYTimes about being and building green: Great news from Home Depot- makes building a green kitchen even easier!

I love Treehugger!
We checked out Valcucine (mentioned at TreeHugger), but they were SUPER EXPENSIVE, but exactly what we were looking for- but we kept looking.

will probably be the hardest thing to be green about. Our cabinets were manufactured at a local cabinet maker, all hardwood bamboo, with interior shelves made out of Dow's Fiberboard- made completely of compressed wheat and sunflower stalks (stuff that would be burned in a landfill), with no harmful chemical binders or adhesives. I found our dealer by calling Prime Board in North Dakota (another manufacturer of the compressed wheat board) and asking them who used their products in the Northeast- they gave me Frank, our cabinet guy's number. If I hadn't done that, I don't know what we would have done.

The leader in environmentally friendly cabinetry is Neil Kelly- the only problem is they are on the West Coast....

I know that you guys have to replace your base cabinets in order to install your dishwasher, but you might want to consider keeping your wall cabinets if they are in decent condition and refacing them (new doors), sanding and painting them to match the new base cabinets. You would save a ton of money and save trees too.

A tip- if you have cabinetry above your refrigerator, I would have it be flush to the front of your fridge- it creates a huge storage space- we keep all of our small appliances there and the space would be wasted otherwise. And you can pretend you have a built in!

I highly suggest having a pullout cabinet for trash and recyclables. We would die without ours... I wish we had the space for all of those neat cabinet/drawer organizers that are available today. Big, pull-out drawers (the really deep ones) are great for storing pans, cookies sheets, etc....

We went with Ice Stone which I LOVE. However, they require a little maintenece- they have to be resealed every year (common in stone/concrete counters) and we have to be careful about lemons/acidics (slight bleaching spots that only I notice) and red wine (possible staining). They are beautiful and compared to granite, affordable. Granite, while adding to the value of your kitchen, is a big no no when it comes to green/sustainability.

Another granite alternative is:
CeasarStone or SileStone which are basically the same thing (silestone is available at Home Depot) and made up of quartz scraps and compressed into a beautiful slab countertop. Our friends used Sile Stone in their new kitchen and it is sparkly and fabulous.

Afm safecoat is a low voc/no voc paint that can be used indoor and out. Baby's room will be coated with this stuff.
If you go to Home Depot/Lowes and find a color that you like you can go online and find the matching color thru AMF Safecoat.

Benjamin Moore also has a low/no VOC option They have primer too.

While bamboo flooring is more prevailent than bamboo cabinetry, it is not a choice I would go with because bamboo can be very soft (even though they claim it is as hard as a hardwood) and from what I've read, doesn't stand up very well in high traffic areas (especially if you wear heels, drop heavy things on the floor etc...)

I like Marmoleum. This stuff is beautiful and used in schools, hospitals, offices and homes.

I know a lot of people use cork, and there is always poured concrete, which can be stained and I think looks great (it's cheap to do too, and you can install a radiant floor underneath).

I like the Aquasana water filter and use it everyday. I highly recommend installing a water filter- it filters better than a Brita and less waste than buying bottled. Filters need to be replace every 6-8 months. They always have great sales. You will need to buy a sink with an extra faucet hole.

We accesorized with Bamboo cutlery holders from Bed Bath and Beyond. I wash and reuse our ziploc bags to death and I'm going to get a bag dryer one of these days. I also reuse aluminum foil too.

We use a lot of Seventh Generation Products, we also like Citrisolve, Ecover (Ken LOVES their floor cleaner), and any other cleaners you can get at Whole Foods. We've eliminated all chemical cleaners all over the house.

We installed lighting from Ikea and Home Depot (under cabinet lighting), both are energy efficient.

Of course, any demo-ing/finishing you can do yourselves will save you big bucks and time, but I suggest having the contractor install your hardware to your cabinetry, it is really time consuming and if you mess it up, you can't go back....

Hope this helps! Happy planning!

No comments: