From Renee on May 7th, 2008 in Green Remodeling
Most people don’t know that in new homes, cabinetry is the greatest source of formaldehyde emissions, more so than carpets, insulation, or paint. When opting for something friendlier for your home environment and for the environment at large, green is the way to go.
Green kitchen cabinetry should contain adhesives and finishes with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). NEFF kitchens, for instance, use marine-grade plywood versus particleboard, the material in most cabinets. NEFF cabinets emit zero toxicity into the air and are 98 percent free of VOCs.
Some manufacturers, like Masterbrand, have Environmental Stewardship Program certification, which means that the materials they use, whether MDF or particleboard, is 100 percent recyclable and their hardwood lines stem from sustainably managed programs.
When purchasing hardwood cabinets, make sure that the material is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure it is responsibly harvested.
As an alternative to wood, many independent companies sell cabinetry made from innovative green materials, such as bamboo, wheatgrass, or kirei board. Bamboo is versatile enough to look sleek and modern or more traditional. It has many of the same characteristics as wood from the grainy surface and warm tone to the inviting, homey feel. Look for the selection of bamboo cabinets through companies such as AlterECO, which uses quality finishes, or purchase bamboo panels from a company such as Cali and have your kitchen remodeler build them from scratch.
Kirei board is made from the stalks of the Sorghum plant, which are left over after harvest and heat pressed with a non-toxic adhesive. The engineered panel looks granier, darker, and more textured than wood. Wheatboard has similar qualities and is less known than bamboo. It is highly sustainable, made from straw waste that’s available after each year’s straw harvest. The material also gives farmers a secondary income with otherwise unusable straw residue, 60 million tons of which are generated each year. Straw residue can also be bound with formaldehyde free resin.
Then there’s always the salvaged wood route. Cabinetry from companies such as Citilogs is made from reclaimed wood or wood from responsible urban logging. The company also has a Full Circle Recycling Program, where they mill wood cleared for construction sites.
Another alternative to hardwood is veneer. These cabinets are made from wood bi-products, such as the peeling strips from trees. Veneered products don’t require the logging of trees.
Let’s not forget the option of stainless steel, which can be constructed from recycled steel.
As you can see, the options for building green kitchen cabinetry are many. To consult additional resources, look up
GreenHomeGuide’s product directory, then talk to a qualified kitchen contractor.