Natural Kitchen

Gwendolyn Bounds invested about 16 months and $83k in her posh, green kitchen remodel.  The process was slightly more difficult than she imagined, but nonetheless, as you can see from the below video: the result is quite nice.  David Johnston, green building and renovation expert, unofficially inspected the work and gave her high marks for the eco renovation.  Her remodel included Energy Star appliances, locally made fly ash concrete countertops, Plyboo and Arreis cabinets, no-VOC paints, FSC-certified wood floors, Nu-Wool recycled newspaper insulation, LED lights, and double-paned efficient windows.

Ms. Bounds also wrapped up her experience with the following list of five steps to get more value out of a remodel and make your home healthier and more efficient:

  1. Use low- or no-VOC paints. Green paints are becoming easier to find, although they will cost a little more. These paints are better for a home’s indoor air quality — you won’t have the paint smells.
  2. Add more green insulation. If you’re doing a renovation, it may be time to add more insulation to capture the energy efficiency benefits.  Try to use insulation materials that are green.
  3. Appliances must be Energy Star. Energy Star appliances consume 10-50% less energy than standard models, so if you’re adding new appliances, make sure you get the most efficient ones available.  It will make a difference.
  4. Use green cabinets and fixtures. Cabinets should be made of healthy materials due to their relation to indoor air quality.  Also consider where fixtures are made (carbon footprint) and where the materials have been sourced from (responsible harvesting).
  5. Use energy efficient lighting. It’s easy to swap out incandescents with CFLs, but if you’re doing a major remodel, consider going with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  Some LEDs are super easy to install, such as the CREE LR6, and have a warm light tone.  Do the research.

All in all, I’d say this is a pretty good list.  Ms. Bounds also recycled what she was able to of the old materials.  Importantly, depending on the remodel, some materials won’t be salvageable if they’re toxic or mold infested.  Be smart about that and call the local green building store for tips on reusing old materials.

++The Eco-Kitchen Challenge
++Five Easy Ways to Green Your Next Remodel