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Consumers Crave a Green Kitchen

An Eco-Friendly Kitchen If you're craving an eco-friendly kitchen, you'll want to start with choosing the main ingredients - appliances, cabinets, countertops, flooring and lighting. Today's modern kitchen remains the heart of your home but with many extra additions - professional cooking and prepping areas, living room, cafe, office, breakfast nook, wine coolers and more.

It's important to first dispel the rumor that a green kitchen is very expensive and that products are difficult to find. Most home products, particularly kitchen appliances are quite bountiful and affordable. You may need to spend a bit more time researching your floors, cabinets and countertops - but the selection and quality is certainly out there.

Let's start with the essentials - your appliances. They are responsible for using the most energy and releasing the most air pollution in your home. Make sure that big or small your appliances are all energy-efficient and have been ENERGY STAR® approved.

Did you know that the kitchen is responsible for most of your energy cost in your home and that by using ENERGY STAR® appliances you can reduce your energy and water usage by 10 to 50 percent depending on the models you purchase.

A major player in the design of a kitchen has become the range hood, which is available in a wide range of styles and materials to match your kitchen's décor. The hood is an essential element in driving exhausts out of your home and should be chosen with diligence.

Another important element to make sure your kitchen is eco-friendly is choosing countertops, cabinets and flooring that are made from recycled or reusable resources. Choosing green products for these major elements in your kitchen will greatly reduce the air pollution generated by your home's busiest room.

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. Bamboo is actually a tough, fast-growing grass that's stronger than maple. Another popular choice for cabinetry is wheatboard, which is a sustainable material made of recycled wheat stalk and straw.

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.

A great alternative to wood or tile flooring is cork or bamboo. Cork is sound absorbent, hypoallergenic, mold resistant and quite stylish. This renewable source is made from bark that is peeled off a tree and then allowed to grow back. If you prefer the look of hardwood floors, be sure to use wood that has been harvested from sustainable forests and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Linoleum is making a nice comeback because of it green properties. It is made of natural materials like linseed oil, wood flour and rosin and it comes in a wide range of colors and designs. It is very durable and easy to clean. Armstrong offers a great selection of green flooring products.

Other flooring options are recycled tile, natural stone and marble - however these natural resources are more expensive.

Design Tip
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.