10 December 2016

How to Build a Green Kitchen on a Budget

Image Credit: Catchlight Painting

Green building and remodeling appeals to many of us, but sometimes environmentally-friendly products and practices seem out of reach because of expense. When you want to make the smallest carbon footprint, but you’re forced to choose unsustainable choices because of expense, it can be frustrating.

But while there are many expensive green options for kitchen building and remodeling, the good news is that there are also several inexpensive ways to get the green kitchen you want. In fact, when you want to go green, the kitchen is the best place to start because it’s the room that uses the most energy in your home. Stay within your budget and keep things environmentally friendly when you remodel your kitchen with these tips.

Plan Smart

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your green kitchen on a budget isn’t going to happen overnight. Before you jump into building or remodeling your kitchen, follow these steps:

  1. Determine what needs to be done, and in what order so you can focus your budget in the right areas.
  2. Why are you building a green kitchen in the first place? Make sure you understand your goals and motivations so you’ll be able to prioritize and justify purchases later on.
  3. What can you do yourself? You’ll help your budget by taking on part of the remodel yourself. Of course, if you’re all thumbs, you may want to keep this list short.
  4. Take the time to find the right products at the right prices. Building with green materials can be less expensive, but it often requires a hunt.
  5. Clearly outline your expectations in a written document -- with as much detail as possible -- and discuss with your contractor. Make sure your contractor understands your definition of “green” so you’re on the same page.

Choose Smart

Fortunately, there are a variety of green building materials available. Many of them are inexpensive as well. Take a look at the best options for each area of your kitchen.

Green Countertops

Laminate countertops made with recycled wood particle boards and non-VOC adhesives give you green certification in the least expensive way possible. And while they’re a few dollars more expensive per square foot than regular laminate countertops, they are often a quarter of the cost of other popular green countertops.

Stainless steel countertops are also a good, inexpensive choice, as they consist of an average of 60% recycled material. Choose a particle board made from recycled material using glue with a non-VOC adhesive.

Flooring

Linoleum is an inexpensive option, and provides an environmentally-friendly choice. It’s made from linseed oil, which is not only hypoallergenic, but is a renewable resource. There are “linoleum-like” flooring options, but these are not made from linseed oil and are not as environmentally friendly.

Cork is sustainable because it doesn’t involve harvesting lumber; rather, the layers of the thick cork oak tree are stripped.

If you go for bamboo, it’s important you choose an experienced manufacturer who uses quality stalks, adhesives, and milling equipment to avoid the poor workmanship that is out there.

Reclaimed wood from barns, warehouses, piers, and other old wooden structures is also a very environmentally-friendly option.

Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are often the most expensive part of a remodel. If you’re concerned about staying under budget, refacing your cabinets is a worthwhile option. With refacing, you can completely change the look of your kitchen for a fraction of the cost.

Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel contains anywhere from 50% to 80% recycled steel. Drop-in stainless steel sinks are inexpensive options, and can be stylish too.

ENERGY STAR Appliances

There’s no way around it -- appliances are expensive. But when you purchase an ENERGY STAR appliance, you will reduce your appliance energy usage anywhere from 10 to 50 percent, saving you money in the long run. ENERGY STAR appliances are better for the environment, and ultimately better for your pocketbook.

Green Is Often Less Expensive in the Long Run

Eco-friendly updates can save you money in the form of less-expensive utilities, and you’ll often find a more quality product in your eco-friendly choices. In addition, green building can increase the value of your home. Make sure you take these things into consideration when judging the immediate cost of an upgrade. While it may be a bit more expensive today, the green upgrade could save you in the long run.

Chuck Winkles is the president of New Life Bath & Kitchen. Chuck was born in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Maria. He's been married to his wife Shelley for thirty-one years and has two sons, Nathan and Noah.

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