Today more than ever, we must consider how our actions impact our environment. This, of course, extends to choosing contractors, materials and processes when upgrading our homes. The good news is that in the last decade there have been many advances in these areas to help home owners get a superior product while minimizing the impact on the environment. Here are some tips that we find useful when remodeling your kitchen or bathroom.
When remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, often times we will replace countertops to add beauty and durability. When choosing the surface though, there are a variety of green choices that can reduce environmental impact.
Wood has been a traditional source of surfaces for centuries. In abundant supply and easy to procure wood has often been used. Wooden surfaces these days most often consist of several pieces of wood bonded together. This creates a look that is both rustic and beautiful. So how do we ensure our beautiful wooden countertop minimizes environmental impact? Here are a few tips to think about.
Wood can be sourced from a variety of places to complete your countertop. A good place to start your search is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC monitors forestry around the world and helps to ensure forests are responsibly managed. You can also use woods salvaged from urban projects, reclaimed wood and other timber that has naturally fallen. These sources and others help to minimize the impact on our environment.
Making concrete is an energy intensive process. This means a greater impact on our environment when concrete is processed. Most concretes consist of sand, stone and other fillers. Recycled glass and other fillers can be used to reduce environmental impact. You can also use natural non-toxic pigments rather than toxic stains.
Laminates are created from layers of phenolic-resin soaked paper that are cured under high pressure. While the end result of the laminate process produces a non-toxic surface safe for eating, most chemicals that go into the process are highly toxic. Choosing laminates that reduce the impact on the environment include:
- Choosing FSC certified wood bases
- Water based resins
- Adhesives with low volatile organic compounds
We use our kitchen appliances every day in the preparation and storage of food. A key component in green living is ensuring our appliances use as little energy as possible. Most appliances these days have energy star ratings. Higher energy star ratings indicate greater energy savings and a more energy efficient product. Products to consider include refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens and lighting. More information can be found at www.energystar.gov.
Other areas to consider when creating a green home include both air and water quality. Making sure your home is properly weatherized reduces the energy used to heat and cool your home, ultimately positively impacting the environment. Windows and doors provide a good area to start. Ensure windows and doors are energy star compliant and are double-paned. Higher end windows and doors are coated to reduce the effects of the sun. Ensure weather stripping is properly installed to reduce leaks.
With the advances of a decade behind us, it is easier than ever to remodel your kitchen comfortably while still keeping our environment in mind. Many materials and products exist that have been created ethically, responsibly and with your family in mind. For more information on you can upgrade your kitchen responsibly, give us a call or email us!