What is Eco-Friendly Cabinetry?
The ecologically minded customer has a wide selection of products to choose from today in cabinetry. These products use materials which positively affect air quality, both in the finishing shop and in our homes, by using renewable materials with formaldehyde-free adhesives and waterborne finishes. Why are these products considered “Ecologically Friendly”?
In cabinetry this would involve the materials. The material cabinetry is made from can be a particleboard or a plywood which is considered “eco-friendly”.
Particleboard can be manufactured which meets a LEED spec called “4.4 compliant”, which means the board is made up of a certain percentage of recycled material, and the glue used to bind the material together has no added urea-formaldehyde, and very low emissions into the finished environment they are in.
Plywood can be made which meets a LEED spec. The material we use is made by Columbia Forest Products and is called “Purebond”. This plywood uses a waterbased glue to bind the wood veneers together, and has little to no emissions in the finished environment. Purebond plywood is available with a clearcoat finish on one side, which would be the inside of your cabinetry, which meets the LEED spec for indoor air quality.
The door material might be a renewable resource like bamboo or lyptus, or could be from a managed forest of maple or cherry where the material is cut so its loss doesn’t affect the health of the overall forest, and then tracked from forest to mill to our shop. This material is called FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. We can build using these materials, and Executive Kitchens can do this as well.
The eco-friendly finishes would be waterborne, Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) approved, ours are manufactured by Sherwin-Williams, are solvent free and give off no volatile organic chemicals, for a very positive affect on indoor air quality. We can spray these finishes in our shop, and our manufacturer Executive Kitchens uses them.
Countertops which are considered “Eco-Friendly” are by definition made from recycled or renewable materials. This may be concrete and glass, like Vetrazzo, or a paper product like ___ , or a renewable material like bamboo.
These materials are going to be more expensive than granite, but have the advantage of using recycled materials or renewable materials.
Everyone reading this has an interest in the environment. Cabinetry and countertops use materials and have finishes which can help or harm the environment. But cost, especially today, has to be an issue.
In building the cabinet there is a choice of using particleboard or plywood. The eco-friendly “4.4 compliant” particleboard is slightly more expensive than standard particleboard. In plywood we use the Columbia Forest Product “Purebond” plywood as part of our standard building process, so there is no additional cost.
In finishing cabinetry using waterborne finishes we have found there to be very little to no disadvantage to using waterborne finishes, and there is no additional cost. If you would prefer this finish over traditional lacquer finishes please let us know.
Eco-friendly countertops are not friendly to your wallet. They are available and there are some great materials, but the cost for them can be two to five times the cost of using a granite countertop. If you know this before pricing them you won’t be as shell-shocked!
Featured Eco-Friendly Project
Greenbridge Condominiums in Chapel Hill, NC, is a 97 residential unit LEED certified project. Designed by the noted architect William McDonough, a leader in sustainable design, the two buildings comprising the project feature the latest in efficient building design, energy and resource usage, and the most user friendly materials in the marketplace today.
Hollingsworth Cabinetry was chosen as the cabinet supplier, building and finishing the Maple, Cherry and Lyptus wood custom cabinetry used throughout all the units. Our meticulous layout and design work, our ability to build beautiful cabinetry efficiently and on-time, coupled with our environment friendly waterborne finishes, helped Greenbridge complete their condo’s on time and within their budget, with a product which complimented the overall building, and the beautiful results speak for themselves.
We are proud to be a part of this history making project.
Here are links to cabinetry products which fit this category.
The LEED green building rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating program for building high-performance, sustainable buildings and housing. The emphasis is on sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resource selection, and indoor air quality.
We have found the LEED rating system to be a very good guide in our learning to build and finish eco-friendly cabinetry using sustainable materials and enhancing indoor air quality.