Environmentally Friendly Green Cabinetry
These days we are hearing a lot about how we can become more environmentally friendly and green So, what does this really mean in for building cabinets? Let’s define what “green” means. Wikipedia.com defines Green building “as the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal — the complete building life cycle.“ That is a lot to take in and sift through. Basically, when we build “green”, we are using natural occurring materials or “raw materials” that enhance the quality of our earth’s environment instead of man-made synthetic materials that harm our surroundings.
So now you may wonder, what was so bad about the cabinets I had in my house? Is their a benefit to me in building environmentally friendly cabinets? In this article, we are going to go through steps on how kitchen or bathroom cabinetry can be made green or environmentally friendly. We will also look at the health benefits of having green cabinets in your home.
So let’s start talking about cabinets. First, would be the selection of wood chosen to build your cabinets with:
Certified Eco Friendly Wood: Environmentally friendly or green wood is generally certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which in short definition is an organization that ensures the quality of the forests the continued growth of forests.
Environment and Human Friendly Wood: Select wood that has not been boded with formaldehydes, low emissions agriboard, and that eco-friendly. We would avoid man-made synthetic materials meaning we would not use chemically bonded plastic or wood veneers, plywood, and particle board, but certified wood veneers bonded with non-VOC adhesive, solid slabs of certified wood, or agriboard.
Assembling Cabinets: We would use water based glues and adhesives that have low or VOC emission. VOC is short for Volatile Organic Compound and is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “as gases from certain solids or liquids that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility.” VOCS have short term and long-term health effects that are harmful. When indoors the amount of present VOCs are always considerably higher indoors than products outdoors.
Typically synthetic glues and adhesives are used which contain formaldehyde, melamine, cellulose, etc… The list can go on and on. By using a natural low or no VOC glues and adhesives, it ensures that the cabinets are not giving off toxic gases and that we not polluting the indoors with health hazard toxins. These VOC toxins can lead to many health problems if you are exposed to them for a length of time. So it is in the best interest of the cabinetmaker, as well as the home owner, to use low or no-VOC products.
Finishing the Cabinets: If the homeowner chooses to have their cabinets painted, choosing a low or no-VOC paint is necessary to ensure a healthy indoor environment. There are a few manufactures that are producing paints options with low or no VOC. They do not change the finished products look in the least, just enhance the quality of the indoor space for your family.
For stained cabinets, we would use a naturally occurring pigment found in nature that is has no emission of VOC. To give the finishing touches on the cabinets, we would seal the cabinets with a natural oils or a sealer that is free of polyurethane and formaldehyde.
So now that we have scratched the surface of how your cabinets can be environmentally friendly or green you may be thinking, “Can custom built environmentally friendly green cabinetry be constructed with the high quality look of traditionally built cabinetry?” And my answer is Yes, Yes, Yes. Green cabinetry does not change the finished products durability or quality. Green cabinets are superior to tradition to cabinetry in that you are enhancing your quality of life and the quality of our earth’s environment by keeping the air you breath free of toxins emitted from the chemicals used in the assembly of traditional cabinets.
The next question you may have is building green worth the extra cost in certified and eco-material? That is a question you will have to decide for yourself. Can you afford to build green? What is the cost difference between building green and building traditionally? (That question all depends on many factors like wood species, amount a cabinets in the kitchen, etc…) The option is there should you decide to build your kitchen cabinets traditionally or green, BR Wood Design is there to help you weigh through the options.
BR Wood Design does not claim to be a “green company”, but we do take conscious measures to be environmentally friendly and be a good steward of the earth God has made for us.
BR Wood Design offers free quotes. Please contact us, we would love to be apart of your next project! Just because it custom doesn’t mean it has to be expensive! Many times we are cheaper than other DO-It-Yourself Home Improvement centers! Give us a call and find out!