When designing a kitchen, you may be surprised by the amount of energy waste and inefficiency that occurs in older kitchens and the environmental demands caused by upgrading materials.
The less items you replace with inefficient new materials, the more sustainable your kitchen will be. From reducing your carbon footprint to using recycled items, there are a variety of ways to design an eco-friendly kitchen–without breaking the bank.
A professional kitchen designer can provide work to whatever level of sustainability you hope to achieve, using industry standards to save energy, resources, and ensure durability without harming the environment. If you’re interested in designing an eco-friendly kitchen, read our tips for reducing your environmental footprint and creating less waste.
Re-face or restore your kitchen cabinets to reinforce your existing cabinets to have stronger, more durable boxes. Resurfacing is a process in which your existing kitchen cabinet framework is resurfaced with laminate or wood veneer. This method allows you to keep your existing cabinet boxes and replaces all cabinet doors and drawer fronts with essentially new ones. Refacing cabinets uses less than a single tree’s worth of wood and will help you save money since refaced cabinets cost less than half of a custom design for new cabinets.
Use What You Have
Use the materials that you have in order to reduce the need for new materials. Restore materials in your kitchen to breathe new life into the space. Many people think that a “green” kitchen means you have to go out and purchase new materials, but in many cases, reusing materials you already have is a better way to reduce your environmental impact. You may also have excess materials from another project or a different room in your home that can be used in your kitchen design, which will reduce waste and find a new purpose for old materials. If you are more flexible with kitchen materials, check out your local Habitat ReStore or similar sustainable home improvement or remodeling warehouse.
Choose quartz over granite for longevity and function in your kitchen countertops. The production mines for Quartz and Corian products have better sustainability practices and the materials they produce are extremely durable. Many quartz slabs also contain recycled materials which reduces the environmental footprint of your kitchen. As an additional bonus, there products tend to cost less per square foot than quartz products cost.
Go Eco-Friendly With Flooring
Recycled wood, recycled tile materials, and even cork and linoleum, are all great options for a more environmentally friendly kitchen design.
Modern cork and linoleum designs are a huge improvement over old and unsightly flooring seen in outdated kitchens. From faux-wood designs to sleek and beautiful color and intricate design finished, there are plenty of options to choose from. Likewise, engineered cork flooring can be designed to imitate wood designs or provide unique color and matte options for your kitchen at a fraction of the cost–all while reducing your environmental footprint.
For more traditional materials, consider choosing recycled floors such as recycled glass tiles or refinished, concrete, terrazzo, or reclaimed wood floors with modern stains to compliment any kitchen design.
For your kitchen, you should also consider using recycled materials or “upcycling” to creatively reuse old materials. For example, there are plenty of options for recycles glass tiles to use in your kitchen backsplash or feature wall. Consider reclaimed barn wood for wall features or shelving and aesthetic additions. Your designer may have extra pieces from other projects or be able to incorporate recycled materials you select into your kitchen design with a little finessing You should also consider purchasing local new materials to save on transportation and fuel costs as well.
Integrate renewable energy. Renewable energy sources may be more of an investment than other aspects of kitchen design, but integrating solar and other eco-friendly energy sources to run your home or power your appliances is an extremely sustainable way to design your kitchen, and home. If you aren’t ready to install panels or go completely renewable, consider a solar water heater, solar oven, or solar air conditioning. From backyard BBQs to everyday heating and cooling, elements of renewable energy can eb incorporated into your kitchen design.
Energy efficient lighting, appliances, and kitchen features. From dishwashers that use less water, to LED light bulbs and lights with dimmer switches, there are many ways to reduce energy use in the kitchen. By swapping out five most of your most frequently used light fixtures or light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights, you can save up to $75 each year–and you can save even more by swapping all your lights. Smart and energy saving appliances not only create a more eco-friendly and sustainable kitchen design, they also help save money in the long term.
Energy Star appliances reduce operating costs by reducing energy without sacrificing performance or aesthetic. From smart dishwashers and refrigerators to clothes dryers, these appliances offer a way to make daily kitchen use more eco-friendly.
Consider these efficient items for your kitchen design:
- Touch free sink faucets
- LED light bulbs
- Lights with dimmer switches
- WaterSense labeled plumbing features
- Energy Star rated appliances and lights
Talk To A Designer
If you have questions about how to make your kitchen design more sustainable and eco-friendly, speak with your designer or project consultant to make the right determination. With years of experience and a familiarity with design materials and customization, they will be able to provide you with details on how to create a kitchen design that works for any level of sustainability and will last for decades, which is the most eco-friendly feature of any kitchen.