Being concerned with the state of the environment has finally grown past being a just a trend and is now a part of most people’s everyday lives. While this can be seen in many segments of society such as the presence of recycling containers next to dumpsters and hybrid vehicles on the roads, perhaps its most evident in the changes that have taken place in the homebuilding and kitchen remodeling industries over the past ten years.
Customers are demanding that their new homes be energy efficient and builders are complying by installing energy saving heating and cooling systems, double and triple pane windows, high efficiency and tankless hot water heaters and numerous other products that can help reduce the amount of energy your home uses on a daily basis. If you live in a region of the country where high temperatures are the norm, materials such as cool shingles or metal panels that can reflect radiant heat from the sun away from roof and lower cooling costs are often installed on homes.
The homebuilding and kitchen remodeling industries don’t limit building green to reducing energy usage – the uses of sustainable and recyclable materials for the various phases of construction have also grown over the past several years. There are now green options for just about any home improvement job that you may be planning.Your kitchen remodeling project might provide the most opportunities for an eco-friendly modification.
Whether you are doing a major kitchen remodeling project or just a few changes to give your kitchen a fresh look, there are numerous products and materials available that can allow you to do your part in saving the environment. A few to consider for your project:
Updating almost always begins with the kitchen cabinets and if you believe in recycling, why not add your old cabinets to the list? A kitchen remodeling project that doesn’t include any drastic changes to your existing cabinet footprint allows you to reuse the boxes if they’re in decent shape. Cabinet refacing can give your cabinets a new appearance and you can either reface the existing doors and drawer fronts or install new to go with a different style. Even if you make some slight changes to your existing footprint, a few new cabinets can be added to your kitchen rather than having to purchase a whole new set.
There are also green options if the design of your new kitchen layout discourages the use of your existing boxes or you just have your heart set on new cabinets for the remodeling project. Sustainable materials such as bamboo are now available as veneers on new cabinets and the manufacturing process used often makes it difficult to notice the difference in appearance from oak, maple, or cherry units.
Where do your old newspapers and glass bottles go when you drop them in the recycle bin? You may guess a lot of different destinations, but kitchen countertops probably is not one of them. There are now several companies that turn recycled paper and glass into beautiful countertops that can complement any kitchen remodeling project regardless of the home’s price range. Numerous colors are available, pricing is competitive, and the countertops are advertised to be as durable as stone.
Just about every kitchen remodeling project involves a change in flooring and you have plenty of eco-friendly materials to choose from in this category. If you’re using recycled kitchen cabinets, why not go one step further and use reclaimed wood flooring for your remodeling makeover. Reclaimed flooring comes from beams, columns, and other lumber that has been salvaged from old homes, buildings, and barns slated for demolition.
Old is the operative word here as some of the structures may have been built several hundred years ago and be from as far away as Europe or South America. The wood is taken back to the company’s saw mills, inspected, and milled into kitchen flooring, paneling, and interior trim. The wood flooring isn’t just a recycled material – it can add instant character to your new kitchen and may even provide you with a story to tell.
Cork and bamboo are also excellent sustainable choices for your kitchen flooring and ceramic tile made from recycled pieces of tile can be a durable and easy to clean option as well.
Perhaps no part of the kitchen has advanced as much in terms of energy efficiency in recent years as the wide selection of appliances now available that can reduce your daily operating costs. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have combined to create the Energy Star program to test manufacturers’ various models for efficient operation and award the coveted Energy Star rating to those that meet the tough testing guidelines.
Energy Star rated models are available in most kitchen appliances such as refrigerators, ranges, wall ovens, cooktops, and dishwashers. You can even purchase Energy Star rated wine and beverage coolers. Energy Star appliances can cost a little more than non-rated models, but the operating costs they can save often pay for the difference in no time at all.
These are just a few of the green options for the primary components of your kitchen remodeling project. Depending on the scope of your project, there are sustainable or energy saving products and materials available for just about every phase of construction. Lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can be used for any framing changes you may have and windows with Low-E coating and Argon gas between the panes are good choices if you intend to let a little more light into the room. There are even high efficiency light fixtures for any under-cabinet or overhead lighting you may have planned.
Talk to your kitchen remodeling professional or general contractor about other options for making your project more eco-friendly or visit the government’s Energy Star website for more helpful tips for going green. Set a good example for your family, friends, and neighbors by doing a green kitchen remodeling project – be part of the movement to help save the environment.
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