Making your home energy-efficient is a great way to create a healthy environment for your family, and you’re saving the earth too. Many of our clients request us to remodel their kitchens using eco-friendly design and we try our best to make their Chicago kitchen as environmentally friendly as possible.
Here are ten green ideas and products for your next kitchen remodel:
There are a variety of green options for flooring like wood, linoleum, tiles, bamboo, and cork. Wood can be the best or worst (ecologically speaking) depending on where it is sourced. For sustainable options, look for wood that is harvested on tree farms and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Wood floors are durable and long-lasting, which makes them a solid green choice.
Linoleum is another all-natural choice: it’s made with linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, and ground limestone. Cork is a great green material — it’s hypoallergenic, non-toxic and offers pest and mold resistance. If you prefer tiles, get them made from 100% recycled glass, ceramic or even plastic. During the material specification process, you can even elect for our team to install it with non-toxic, zero-VOC sealants.
Reclaimed Rustic Jakarta Wood Flooring. Image source: Viridian Reclaimed Wood
Metallic Hexagon Eco Tile (100% recycled plastic). Image source: Coldharbour Tiles
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are the most energy-efficient and long-lasting choices. But going green with your lighting goes beyond just choosing energy-efficient bulbs. Give your lamps and light fixtures the green treatment as well. Choose from lamps made with recycled glass, metal, or reused materials.
Scraplights (corrugated cardboard, FSC-certified). Image source: Graypants
Using non-toxic paint is probably one of the most effective ways to go green with your next kitchen remodel. Most paints and toners contain synthetic, dyes, petrochemicals, and toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) but there are also zero VOC options available. The Real Milk Paint Co. sells a milk-based paint that is made from 100% organic milk protein. It is sold in powder form and is mixed with water before application. Bioshield is another eco-friendly company that sells solvent-free, zero-VOC paints, the Sherwin-Williams Harmony line is VOC-free as is Benjamin Moore’s Natura collection.
Eco-friendly Paint – Plum. Image source: Real Milk Paint
Give your Chicago kitchen green cabinetry with FSC-certified plywood, bamboo and plywood boards as these come in formaldehyde-free, low VOC versions. FSC-certified, GreenGuard certified, and Green Seal certified are reliable certifications to watch for when buying green products. When it comes to kitchen cabinetry, you can also look for the Environment Stewardship Program (ESP) certification. This seal was created by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) to help builders, designers, and consumers manufacture eco-friendly products.
Whether you’re looking for an island countertop or countertops for other kitchen surfaces, choose green. There are many eco-friendly, recycled, non-toxic options available. The company Icestone, for, example, creates countertops from recycled glass. What’s more, their production process is green too. Durat is another green option for kitchen countertops. Its solid surface contains recycled post-industrial plastics and it is 100% recyclable. There’s also the most impact-resistant choice — Richlite composite countertops. This FSC-certified product is made from post-consumer recycled paper saturated with phenolic resin. The result is a harder-than-wood, scratch-and-chip resistant green countertop for your Chicago kitchen.
Eco-friendly countertop. Image source: Richlite
6. Cooking Ranges
To understand what is the best fuel source for Chicago kitchens, one needs to look at ComEd’s Illinois power plants. It currently has 6 nuclear plant, 1 natural gas plant, and 1 solar plant. It doesn’t produce any of our electricity from coal. Since natural gas is often sourced in fracking, and since it leaks significantly in its pipelines, it is best to avoid if possible. Natural gas also produces a significant amount of indoor air pollution.
Given the (non-coal) makeup of our local energy supply, it is advantageous to use electricity over natural gas for your cooking range. And, in terms of electric options, the induction stove models use half the energy of standard conventional electric stoves. Induction stoves cost more upfront and require steel or iron pans, but the savings in electricity over the years can easily offset such an investment.
Energy-efficient induction range (NE58K9560WS). Image source: Samsung
For green validation, look for the Energy Star certified models when buying an eco-friendly fridge. Certified products use much less energy than standard models so you’re saving energy and money. Use their handy search function here to find the most efficient fridge based on size, brand, and/or style. Eco-tip for fridge buying: select a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer for maximum efficiency. This style can use less electricity than a 60-watt light bulb!
The Energy Star certification applies to dishwashers as well. An energy-efficient dishwasher costs about $35 per year to run and uses no more than 5.8 gallons of water per cycle. It will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime!
9. Water-Efficient Fixtures
A normal kitchen faucet allows water to flow at 2.2 gallons per minute (GPM). The green versions, on the other hand, have a flow rate of 1.8 or even 1.5 GPM in some models.
Even though there is plenty of water in Lake Michigan, when we use less we are putting less burden on the infrastructure which is energy-intensive for pumping and filtering. It also decreases our home’s hot water heating expenses and our water bill.
1.5 GPM pulldown kitchen faucet (7864BL). Image source: Moen
If you have decided to give your Chicago kitchen a green remodel, accessorize it with eco-friendly products as well. For example, instead of using paper towels, try washable reusable cloth ones, disposable plastic food wraps can be replaced with reusable beeswax versions, and a great green alternative to Ziploc bags are reusable silicone food storage bags.
Beeswax sandwich wraps. Image source: Bee’s Wrap
Reusable silicone food bags. Image source: Stasher
Also, minimize the health risks of plastics on your food by only using glass storage containers such as Ball jars and Pyrex glass storage sets. Skip on the plastic ones that Costco is selling.
A green kitchen remodel is a great way to implement eco-living in your Chicago home. Upon request, our designers will be happy to help you choose greener raw materials and appliances that are energy-efficient, and we’ll make sure that our builders minimize the toxins from paints and adhesives used in your Chicago kitchen. This will support the health of your home’s inhabitants and helps to sustain nature’s balance.