The kitchen is the heart of the home, a place for everything from cooking and eating to socializing and entertaining. This guide discusses the considerations involved in orchestrating a green kitchen remodel, so you can create a game plan that works for you. A kitchen remodel can be complicated and expensive. A 2002 study by the National Association of Realtors pins the cost of a midrange kitchen remodel in Seattle at over $45,000, while an upscale one averages nearly $73,000. So it makes sense to do things right the first time. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce both the cost and complexity of a kitchen remodel, while increasing the room’s environmental efficiency and human performance.

What is a Green Remodel ?

It’s an approach to home improvement with the goal of not only making your home look better, but making it work better–for both you and the environment. Want a healthier home? Lower utility bills? Reduced maintenance? A cleaner planet? A green remodel helps you realize a range of far-reaching benefits from a single smart design. With careful planning, you can create a living space that combines beauty, efficiency, comfort and convenience with health
and conservation.

Why Consider a Green Remodel ?

  • SAVE MONEY
    Energy- and water-wise designs and products reduce monthly bills. Efficient, durable, and enduring home elements can last longer and cost less to maintain in the long run. Also, by making spaces welcoming to various ages and abilities, your home will be marketable to a larger population (a key benefit for resale) and less likely to need costly modifications as your own abilities change.
  • MAKE A HEALTHIER HOME
    A green remodel can be good for you, physically and emotionally. Health focused designs maximize fresh air and natural light, while reducing the risk of injury. Potential problems like molds, allergens and toxic chemicals are identified and addressed early–a strategy that is more effective and usually much cheaper than fixing them after they develop.
  • REDUCE ECOLOGICAL IMPACT
    Remodeling is an opportunity to create a home that enhances the environment, instead of depleting it. You can make your living space more energy and water efficient, minimize waste, and recycle what’s left over to reduce the amount of materials ending up in landfills.

Rethink Kitchen Remodel

Green remodeling requires a new approach to the remodeling process, with more up-front planning and coordination to capture opportunities that are often missed in the conventional remodeling process. This includes expanding your list of objectives as well as the way you compare the price of products and services, by taking wide-angle and long-term views of decisions. It also means being willing to invest time and energy to find solutions that best fit your needs. And finally, it means approaching your remodeling project with health and safety at the forefront. This advance planning pays large dividends in terms of long-term satisfaction with your project and cost containment.

Planning a kitchen remodel can elicit equal parts excitement and terror. The choices are endless. Where do you begin? Generally, the more you can stick with existing walls, cabinetry, plumbing and electrical layouts, the less you will spend on your remodel. You’ll use fewer resources with less waste. So first, define your priorities and then consider all your options carefully.

Health

  • Are materials and finishes nontoxic?
  • Is ventilation sufficient?
  • Are surfaces easy to clean without using harsh chemicals?
  • Does the layout promote safety from slips, cuts, burns, and electric shocks?

Usefulness

  • Does the design make kitchen tasks easier and more pleasant?
  • Create a list of your common kitchen tasks. Does the design help or hinder these?

Efficiency

  • Are the appliances and fixtures energy- and water-efficient?
  • Are they sized to match the jobs at hand?

Comfort & Beauty

  • Is the space inviting and attractive? Does it encourage people to linger?
  • Are countertop heights and floor surfaces comfortable?
  • What makes the space uncomfortable: layout, surfaces, colors or lighting?

Durability

  • Do the materials stand up to the tasks performed in a kitchen over time?
  • Are they time-honored classics or will they look dated in a few years?

Space

  • Is space lacking–or wasted?
  • Take an inventory of all categories of space: work space, storage, floor and visual space. Then be creative. Explore the simpler solutions first, such as converting a nearby closet to storage or pantry or donating unused items.

Accessibility

  • Does the design accommodate a variety of people, both in age and ability?
  • Today’s kitchens often need to work for not just one user but several, each requiring different activity areas.

Ecological Benefit

  • Do materials and appliances avoid environmental harm during their manufacture, use, and disposal?
  • Are they made from materials that are recycled, responsibly mined or harvested, renewable, and/or local? Are they reusable or recyclable?