The idea of reusing materials to conserve energy, limit rampant harvesting of our forests and reduce waste on the planet is not a new concept. In fact, there are advanced degrees now being offered in the universities for Environmental Decision Making. This level of legitimization might explain the difference today in how readily available sustainable or “green” products have become, far surpassing the trend stage. The burgeoning creativity in this arena of home decorating is producing an abundance of innovative options that are both attractive and purposeful for their intended use in your home, and more specifically, for your kitchen.
Setting the Standards
As with all things that reach this height of popularity and use, there are industry-independent organizations setting the standards for certifying products that meet guidelines for sustainability.
Three of those certifications you can look for are:
- GreenGuard – to help improve indoor air quality, this certification is for building products that have low chemical emissions.
- Cradle to Cradle – focusing on products designed for long-life cycles that are safe for people and the planet.
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – certifies wood products come from responsibly harvested forests.
Reclaimed wood comes from a wide variety of sources, including:
- Shipping and crating materials – often found to be made from exotic and tropical species of Asian and European hardwoods.
- Deconstructed buildings – such as barns, water tanks, warehouses and old houses, usually made from old-growth wood and most often harder than new wood.
- Shipyards – an excellent source of reclaimed wood, particularly teak, from retired boats.
- Old gym bleachers – made from Douglas fir.
- Wine casks – old-growth redwood.
Other sustainable wood products include butcher block, made from smaller pieces of reclaimed wood to make a larger composite surface, and bamboo, a rapidly renewable resource stronger than most hardwoods. Be mindful, however, that nearly all commercial bamboo originates from China, which accounts for a greater use of energy for transporting to the United States.
Green Facts about Salvaged Wood
Salvaged wood is dried and stabilized in a kiln, and then it gets milled, packaged and shipped to those who seek the genuinely attractive beauty of hardwood floors, counter tops, table tops, paneling, cabinets and more. The EPA has estimated the amount of usable lumber reclaimed from demolished buildings to be about 1,000,000,000 feet. Producing reclaimed lumber effectively uses 13 times less cumulative energy resources than it does to produce virgin wood products.
Whether sourced locally or cast in place, concrete counters provide an excellent green choice, especially when made from low-impact aggregates, such as recycled glass or paper or increased coal fly ash. Ice Stone uses fine glass particles set in pigmented cement for an opaque appearance. Squak Mountain counter tops look like stone even though it is comprised of a mix of glass, recycled paper and cement. All these surfaces are susceptible to staining and etching, which can either be sealed to help protect them or else they acquire a nice patina over time with use.
Resin counter tops can be made with near zero waste while being carbon neutral. They are available in countless colors, patterns and finishes. Paperstone is another one of many recycled paper counter top materials. It is FSC certified produced from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper using pigmented, petroleum-free resin. It is often compared to soapstone for its warmth and consisting of one solid piece.
Made from 100 percent recycled glass, Bio-Glass is Cradle to Cradle certified. It has a heavenly, translucent appearance.
Stainless steel is one material that is repeatedly recycled for a consistently extended useful life. It has the durability to survive the punishment of commercial kitchens easily meeting their harsh standards for cleanliness. A stainless steel polish is available in an aerosol to help keep smears and fingerprints to a minimum for those who prefer the clean, clinical look.
If you are looking to “go green” in your kitchen, you can obtain a free, in-home Phoenix kitchen remodeling consultation from Signature Kitchen and Bath Remodeling. From design inception through to project implementation, Signature Remodeling assigns each client a Designer, a Project Manager and a Site Superintendent. With this side-by-side guidance, we help you navigate the process of quality home remodeling with ease. We are your licensed, bonded and insured general residential contractor, and we work with your municipality to ensure all regulatory and building codes are met and all appropriate permits are properly acquired. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help give you the “green light” on your kitchen remodel.