Green Interiors: Five Steps to a Greener Kitchen

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Green Interiors: Five Steps to a Greener Kitchen
Whether it’s the renovation of an old home or designing a new-build, kitchens always seem to be a top priority. This is due, in part, to the current popularity of the open-plan concept, a layout that puts the kitchen in the center of the plan, making it a hub of activity within the home.
With its many plumbing fixtures, appliances, and lighting demands, the kitchen is also one of the easiest rooms to make more sustainable when updating or building. By considering a few simple things throughout the design process it’s not that difficult to create a greener kitchen and home:
Floors: Selecting rapidly renewable flooring materials for the kitchen is a great place to start. Rapidly renewable refers to products such as cork or bamboo that regenerate quickly in nature. Not only are these products eco-friendly, but they also have functional qualities that are desirable in kitchens. For example, cork is soft underfoot, providing a cushion-like quality for the floor that is beneficial during periods of prolonged standing.
Cabinets: A great budget-friendly tip for redoing an out-of-date kitchen is salvaging the wall and base cabinets. By repainting or refinishing existing cabinets, a homeowner will not just save money but will also help the environment. Think your cabinets are too old to recycle? Keep the cabinet boxes and simply add new door fronts. No one will be able to guess their age!
Countertops: Trade natural stone products like granite and marble for more eco-friendly alternatives. Brands like Eco by Cosentino and IceStone boast high levels of recycled content and look fabulous, too. Interested in adding a bit of warmth to your green kitchen? Consider a reclaimed wood bar or bamboo butcher block and stay on trend.
Lighting: Replace inefficient incandescent fixtures with LED fixtures. From recessed cans and decorative pendants, to the often forgotten under-cabinet lighting, kitchens are full of great energy-saving opportunities. You will be doing not only the environment but yourself a favor as LED bulbs can last up to 20 years, thus saving money over time.
Appliances: Even a simple appliance replacement can decrease a kitchen’s environmental impact. Look for Energy Star refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers to ensure that a new appliance has been certified as energy efficient. Some Energy Star products even qualify for a federal tax credit. Not sure which oven or cooktop to purchase? Visit for comparison information and great buying tips. —By Renée Conde, NCIDQ, LEED AP
Editor’s Note: Renée Conde is a LEED accredited professional and is certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes. E-mail your questions to her at or visit

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