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Designing An Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Designing An Eco-Friendly Kitchen

By Linda Kavanagh, The House Designers Contributing Writer

When it comes to being green, the kitchen is usually one of the first places that consumers focus on when choosing eco-friendly products. We have put together a number of kitchen design ideas, which include everything from a kitchen recycling center to energy-efficient windows.

Here are some "really" green kitchen design ideas and products to help you save money and resources for years to come without sacrificing style, functionality and performance.

Kitchen Recycling Center

Look for all-in-one recycling centers that allow you to easily separate paper, plastics and glass from companies like Mode® and iTouchless. Mode® (offers a sleek line of recycling products including their Premium All-In-One Recycling center, which features a compaction system that allows you to hold up to 3 times more than a typical recycle bin. Retail price is $229.99-$269.99. For smaller spaces and needs they have the Deluxe All-In-One Recycling Center which has three compartments that have a 17-gallon capacity making it easy to recycle without clutter. Retail price is $179.99.

iTouchless just released a new stainless steel 2-compartment Recycle Touchless Trashcan,® which has two 8 gallon compartments with independent sensor lids that open automatically. Since you don't have to touch it or step on it, chances are you won't break it. Retail price is $329.99 iTouchless is also the creator of other great innovative housewares and products including the Touchless Trashcan®, EZ Faucet®, and Towel-Matic®.

Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances

Advanced technology now means that appliances can use 10 to 50 percent less energy and water than standard models so make sure your all your appliances are ENERGY STAR® approved. Most appliance manufacturers have their own line of eco-friendly kitchen appliances, which include everything you need to design your dream green kitchen.

A leader in the green initiative is Whirlpool, which recently unveiled one of its most energy-efficient and stylish kitchens. This year's version of their eco-friendly kitchen line includes the Resource Saver® Refrigerator, Resource Saver® Dishwasher, Velos® SpeedCook Oven and two ranges in the Whirlpool Gold® series, which features the industry's first Energy Save mode to conserve electricity when the oven is not in use.

All three GE brands — the GE Café® series of restaurant inspired appliances, their contemporary GE Profile® line and their luxury GE Monogram® series.

It's a bit pricey but this smart dishwasher by Bosch is worth checking out. With a simply push of the button, select 500 and 800 series dishwashers from Bosch have an EcoAction® option that reduces energy usage by up to 25% when selected, Plus they have an EcoSense® wash management system that uses an infrared light to sense how dirty your dishes are and customizes the appropriate wash cycle to conserve water. Depending on the model it can run you from $1,199 - $2,099.

Induction Cooktops

The latest in green cooking technology is the induction cooktop, which cuts cooking time in half, is easy to clean and is 85-90% efficient because there is almost no wasted heat. Here are some of the leading brands in induction technology and design: Miele, LG, Jenn-Air, Wolf, GE, DCS and Electrolux.

You'll want to check out the new Miele precision control induction cooktop with booster power. This hot item is packed with cool features and the latest technology to make cooking efficient and FUN! The advanced culinary cooking surface has innovative, yet easy-to-use timing functions, multi-power boosters, cookware recognition and auto heat programs. The power boosters reduce cooking times by raising the temperature settings to its maximum for 10-minute intervals. This function is great to get things boiling.

Also check out their CombiSet® cooktop collection, which allows you to customize your cooking surface. This innovative product allows you to use several different power sources simultaneously to create the ultimate, personalized cooking surface. From double and single burner modules powered by induction, electric and gas to boiler/fryer and the debut of a Tepan Yaki contact griddle, the build-in options are endless for both expansive and space challenged kitchens.

Smart & Stylish Kitchen Faucets

When it comes to choosing your kitchen faucet, you'll want to look for water saving models that have the following features: 1.5 gmp water-saving aerators, a touchless technology and low flow option. To date, kitchen faucets are not yet rated by the EPA's WaterSense® program.

One of Delta's® greenest products is the pull-out Linden® kitchen faucet, which is designed with an attractive flared wand that fits comfortably in the hand. The faucet is a single-handle deck mount for one or three-hole installations and offers two exclusive features for superior functionality — the Multi-Flow® and Diamond Seal® Technology. The Linden is the first Delta pull-out that has the Multi-Flow® feature, where the wand flows at a water-saving 1.5 gallons-per-minute (gpm) at 60 pounds-per-square-inch (psi), with an easy to use toggle button that allows you to set the stream to low, high or spray.

Cabinets & Countertops

When it comes to choosing your cabinets, there are many green alternatives, including formaldehyde-free woods like cherry, maple, oak and alder (only woods that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council are really "green" ), as well sustainable woods like bamboo and wheatboard.

When it comes to your countertops you can still enjoy the look of wood with an eco-friendly bamboo countertop. If you prefer a solid surface or quartz surface you'll want to check out companies like DuPont, Silestone, Cambria, Formica or Wilsonart. Be sure that the countertop you choose has a Greenguard seal.

Definitely worth checking out is Eco® by Cosentino, a revolutionary new line of countertop material composed of 75% recycled content from the world leader in quartz surfacing (so you know it has to be good). ECO is available in ten colors and the company indicates that the new countertop is a durable product with high stain, scratch, and scorch performance. It's available in slabs 63" by 128" and standard tile sizes of 12" by 12," 18" by 18," and 24" by 24." It's available nationally through Lowe's at a price of $68-$118, depending on the thickness and color.

Task Lighting and Lighting Controls

Before you choose your light fixtures, take advantage of natural light by designing your kitchen with lots of ENERGY STAR® windows. A good way to cut down on energy costs is to place workstations like your prep and cleaning areas and cooking islands underneath or near windows. When you choose your lighting, choose fixtures that are energy-efficient (ENERGY STAR® approved), use dimmers, motion sensors and timers. Always use fluorescent light bulbs, because they use about 70% less electricity and last about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.

You'll find a popular lighting fixture to spice up your kitchen is pendant lighting It works great over center islands, cozy nooks and dining areas. With so many styles and designs to choose from you can coordinate them with any kitchen décor. Since they don't typically give off a lot of light, you'll want to place them accordingly and coordinate them with larger ceiling fixtures that can handle task areas. offers an extensive collection of pendant lighting as well as lighting for your entire home.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Flooring

While wood and tile floors remain the most popular choice for kitchen design, renewable products like cork and bamboo are slowly catching on. If you have your heart set on hardwood be sure to use wood that has been harvested from sustainable forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Today's linoleum is starting to make a nice comeback not just because of its green properties, but because they come in a wide range of colors and designs and are made to last. Armstrong offers a great selection of green flooring products. Other green flooring options are recycled tile, natural stone and marble - however these natural resources are more expensive.

Kitchen Windows Provide Natural Light

In most homes, kitchen windows are either double-hung or gliding windows and installed over the sink. However, the newest trend in kitchen design is to install large windows with unique designs such as bay windows, bow windows and garden windows to allow for lots of natural light to give the kitchen an open feel and provide a great place for accents and accessories.

No matter what window style or design, be sure its ENERGY STAR® approved. Read the label for added features like multiple layers of glazing, low U-value rating, low-conductivity gas fill, tinted glass and low w-coatings, which increases the room's comfort, protects items from sun damage and reduces condensation on windows. Most leading manufacturers like Andersen, Pella, Marvin, Milgard, Jeld-Wen, Ply Gem have been designing energy efficient windows for years, so now it's just a matter of finding a design that fits your budget and style.

For great efficiency, performance and a tax credit qualification, check out EcoExcel, an energy performance package from Andersen Windows & Doors.

Design Tip
Don't be unprepared when you start looking for your new kitchen appliances. There are tons to choose from and it can be overwhelming if you don't already know what you want. Before you shop, know your needs, style preferences, and budget. Your appliances should blend with the design of your kitchen and be able to meet all your cooking needs. Remember to look for the most energy-efficient appliances you can afford, because they will operate more properly and save you money on your energy bills.