Meeting the Demand for a More Sustainable Kitchen

Posted by Andrew Brusnahan on June 05, 2012
Meeting the Demand for a More Sustainable Kitchen
An example of an eco-friendly kitchen.

In my opinion, it won’t be long until folks decide that when they want to remodel their home, or even build a brand-new home, they’ll want the final product to be more eco-friendly than its predecessor. For some individuals, this means simply installing the latest in shiny, new Energy Star-rated appliances. And for others, the demand reaches further than that, all the way to choosing a “green” contractor.

So what are homeowners asking for when it comes to a “green” kitchen? For some, smaller changes are sought after. Take for instance, a remodel, in which a homeowner plans to redo the cabinetry and implement more sustainable appliances. For one, brand-new appliances are not the only option. In fact, some homeowners are taking a thriftier route by purchasing used appliances from consignment shops and yard sales. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when you consider how popular the recycling and “upcycling” trends are these days. Therefore, some homeowners are buying previously owned appliances, replacing any necessary parts via resources like Part Select and placing the renewed appliances back into a kitchen to start a new life.

Naturally there is some resistance with other homeowners and the aspect of used appliances. In this case, Energy Star is the way to go. Moreover, remember to instill the notion that a smaller appliance is a more ecological appliance with your clients, since some homeowners will factor out size if an appliance boasts the Energy Star rating.

As previously mentioned, you can’t forget about the new cabinetry that is to surround these new appliances. There is a distinct aspect of green cabinetry that sets it apart when compared to a standard set of cabinets—chemical vapors. Many contractors and carpenters will construct their cabinets using harmful materials such as urea formaldehyde, which, ultimately, can cause health complications. Luckily though, there are healthier alternatives to urea formaldehyde, such as soy and polyvinyl acetate (PVA). Taking it one step further, some contractors are urging clients to go metal with their cabinetry considering that the risks of toxic gas emissions are eliminated with the use of metal. Still others are jumping on the bamboo bandwagon, promoting the rapid-growing crop that largely grown in Asia.

If a major remodel is what your clients had in mind, then there are other ways to create an eco-friendly, sustainable kitchen. Naturally, the aspects mentioned above are options you should consider. However, instead of bringing sustainability to merely the cabinets, extend the trend to include the flooring and countertops as the traditional building materials used to construct these features usually contain formaldehyde, laminates, and volatile organic compounds. Again, bamboo is a growing trend being used in many green remodels, as well as concrete and stainless steel. Next, kitchen lighting can also be more efficient with the help of Energy Star. Typically, a homeowner who implements eco-friendly lighting can expect a 75% reduction in energy consumption, as well as a reduction in the heat that is generated, according to Thomas Edison Electric. Moreover, a standard CFL bulb will generally last much longer than a standard light bulb; in some case, up to ten times longer.

There are plenty of possibilities for building the perfect green kitchen for your clients. In fact, your clients may even have ideas of their own. Some may want to have a water barrel installed out back to trap rainwater for reuse in the kitchen. Others may want solar panels to power their kitchens, as well as other rooms in the house, in order to benefit from a lower electric bill. Home gardens are also becoming quite popular for homeowners who want to cut back on purchasing outside produce.

Regardless of what your clients want, your job is to not only meet but also exceed their expectations. You have the ability to create what could truly be an eco-friendly piece of art. Moreover, a few green kitchens will make nice additions to your portfolio, possibly opening up your business to a whole new set of ecologically-minded clientele.


Andrew Brusnahan is an eco-warrior. While driving a Prius would be great, Andrew realizes that it is the little steps that can be taken by the average consumer on a daily basis that really saves the planet. He can be contacted at

Photo credit: Green Building Supply

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