When it comes to green remodeling, it's all about making your kitchen work better for both you and the environment. A green home design comes with advantages that will save you money, make your home healthy and give you a chance to help improve the environment rather than exhaust its resources. If you are trying to think of ways to "green" your kitchen design, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest are the perfect places to draw inspiration for new ideas.
Green Remodeling Ideas for the Kitchen
The kitchen is truly the heart of the home. Because the cost of a kitchen remodel makes it one of the more expensive home makeovers, make sure you carefully plan what you want so you can find the best solutions to your design needs and priorities. Consider the following green remodeling ideas for your kitchen:
1. Use Renewable Resources
With a bamboo stalk's ability to grow up to 19 feet in a couple of months, it is a wonder this renewable resource was not used long ago. Hardwood floors and other items made from renewable materials such as bamboo, cork or eucalyptus are as durable and beautiful as those made from slow-growing trees, but they are less taxing on the environment.
2. Shop Locally for a Countertop
When you want to show off a new green kitchen, use a material for your countertops that did not cost thousands of dollars in fuel to import or transport. Look into getting a countertop made out of locally mined natural stones, concrete from a local fabricator, a green laminate, stainless steel, terrazzo or glass, clay or porcelain tiles. Whichever countertop option you choose, make sure the material is water-resistant and durable.
3. Breathe Easier, Feel Healthier
A positive side effect of green home design is that it often results in a dwelling that's healthy for its habitat as well as the environment. Use low- or no-VOC paints and finishes, which produce less harmful gasses when painted onto the walls of your kitchen. In addition, find cabinets that have formaldehyde-free medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or compressed agricultural plant materials instead of compressed wood products. Also, remember to include an energy-efficient exhaust hood above your range that will vent away mold-causing moisture and dangerous fumes.
4. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
According to the US Green Building Council, a refrigerator can use up to 14 percent of a home's electricity. Up to 80 percent of a dishwasher's energy goes toward heating the water it uses. With so much of your home's energy home powering the kitchen, it makes sense to choose appliances that will make the most efficient use of it. If you are interested in green remodeling and plan to purchase new appliances for your kitchen, consider models with the Energy Star logo. And do not forget to donate your old appliances to those in need or take them to a recycling center that will make sure the harmful chemicals are disposed of properly.
5. Incorporate Energy-Efficient Lighting
Lighting is another important element in green home design. The best way to reduce the amount of electricity it takes to light your kitchen is to take advantage of the sun's rays. Consider installing energy-saving windows and skylights in your kitchen. Daylighting, in addition to using compact fluorescent or LED lights, will pay for itself in only a few years.
6. Encourage Yourself to Recycle
Make it easier to sort and store your recyclable items by incorporating a kitchen recycling center.
A kitchen recycling center is a modified cabinet, tucked away out of sight, where you can also reuse the paper or plastic bags a grocery store gives you. Place the items to recycle in the appropriate compartment, and take it out to the larger recycling bin once it is full. If you're serious about reducing trash, you can also include a built-in composting system.
7. Salvage What You Can
Salvaging is an important component of green remodeling. Items in your existing kitchen, such as sinks, floors, cabinets, fixtures, towel bars, shelves and hooks, all have a potential reuse in your new kitchen if they are properly removed. Incorporate what you already own into your green kitchen remodel as much as possible to save on the cost of transportation and prevent items from ending up in a landfill. In addition, you can also use salvaged items in your design. For example, make a backsplash out of salvaged tiles.
Green home design is a long-term trend that will outlast any fad. For a spectacular kitchen remodel, Portland and other Northwest green communities can give you a plethora of design ideas that will fulfill your kitchen design needs.
~ Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2010