Dealers Offer Tips for Designing Green Projects

Kitchen & Bath Design News recently posed this question to dealers and designers in the kitchen and bath industry: What are the keys to creating a green kitchen or bath? Following are some of their responses:

“I think the push toward green means being very thoughtful about how you handle products that you are working with. That said, communication with your clients is critical so that you give them all the options.

One of the things I stress is partnering with companies that have a sustainable approach to product sourcing. I have shifted my focus to seeking out alternative materials for countertops, mainly because granite is not an easily renewable resource. That is a concern.

In our area, there is also a great incentive to recycle. Our waste management company greatly encourages it and even gives discounts on the hauling service from a job site if we are willing to separate things and make it easy for them to recycle.

While it can be difficult to do well, we work with our contractors to remove existing kitchen cabinetry so that it can be used for programs such as Habitat for Humanity, or even local service programs, such as for a hospice or mental health facilities. We also do this with appliances.”

Ultimately though, as designers, it is our responsibility to stay abreast of the possible options available to us and educate consumers about the trade-offs in terms of budget.”

Elma Gardner, CMKBD
By Design
Davis, CA

“Even when design firms seek to address the growing interest in green products, perhaps by adding a showroom vignette featuring a sustainable and renewable resource such as bamboo, the firm should consider how environmentally friendly it really is when the carbon footprint is taken into account.

Therefore, companies need to weigh the pros and cons of where the product came from and the carbon footprint before making a recommendation. That said, it is also important to have awareness of the environmental concerns specific to the project location. I recommend using locally fabricated products and creatively reusing or repurposing items or donating them to a recycled building products facility or charity.”

Amie Crawford, designer
The Cozy Kitchens Group
Kitty Hawk, NC

“Some of the keys to green design include understanding what your client’s expectations are when it comes to what green means to them, and what products are important to them. For instance, they may be interested in using cabinetry that has low formaldehyde or formaldehyde-free boxes because of off-gassing.

But, it is also critically important to select products that are appropriate for the client’s needs, such as using a cork floor in the kitchen instead of a concrete one to help soften the strain of prep work. Some of the green products offered today can be more expensive than others, so that is something to keep in mind as well.”

Laura Natale, k/b designer
Canyon Cabinetry and Design
Tucson, AZ

“Primarily the key is to select vendors that are green. It is all about the product. It is easy enough to find out if manufacturers are green-certified or not. We have done projects in the past where people received points, or a tax credit, for using materials that were sourced in this area. So the trick was to find product that came from the ground here, so that they got more points for it. That is certainly another way to make sure that a design is as green-oriented as possible.”

Don Sexton, president
Great Kitchens
Nashville, TN

“It’s very important to find the right products and make sure that they are green. Our firm is dealing more with recycled material when it comes to green designs. That seems to be very popular right now. If a client wants a true green kitchen, it all really starts with finding the right wood – one that has green properties – whether it is lyptus or bamboo, for instance.

We are also using more concrete with recycled glass. Of course, our firm has also donated product recycled from remodel projects to Habitat for Humanity. That also has the benefit of product not getting dumped in a landfill.

In fact, I have one client who is using recycled material from an old barn. In Iowa, if they are tearing down a barn, you can use the material for a very interesting look, as well as with flooring or even cabinetry.

In my experience, clients are also eager to salvage their old cabinetry and rework the cabinets into their new kitchen.”

Melissa McKean, owner
Classic Kitchen & Bath
Waterloo, IA

“The idea of doing any green remodeling project has us all intrigued. You can use recycled glass-type countertops set in concrete or take advantage of the natural light in your area. The materials can come from the outside in, which makes the design unique as well. We always use Energy Star-rated products in the kitchen and low-water consumption items in the bath. Some of the bath products are being set to give the user more pressure while using less water. We tend to choose our cabinets based on whether they are environmentally friendly – that is, making sure they were made using low VOC products; we do not select any products that might have off-gassing issues.”

Robin Slattery, CKD, president
Modern Kitchen Center
Glenwood Springs, CO