Kitchens Guzzle Energy and Water, But a Green Kitchen Uses Less


The open plan kitchen at Sun and Sky House,

Plan Carefully for the Busiest Room in the House
The easiest way to keep a kitchen remodel green is to keep its size reasonable. Most people use a kitchen for work space, food storage, entertaining, and dining. Take time to understand how you really use the kitchen and its adjacent spaces, and how you’d like that to change. Would an office hutch help control clutter? What about a prep sink in an island? How these wants and needs work together is how efficient space planning happens.

Design Considerations Can Save Resources
Green materials choices for cabinetry, countertops, finishes, and flooring are all available, and replacing older energy-hogging appliances and fixtures with newer, more efficient models can significantly reduce utility bills. There are also opportunities for making plumbing runs shorter, which can reduce costs and make hot water delivery more efficient. And finally, keep in mind that a smaller kitchen will be greener than a gargantuan one.

Look at What’s Working, and What’s Not
What sort of problems result from the existing layout? Is there a bottleneck in traffic patterns? Is there too little countertop near the stove, fridge, or sink? Are the appliances too far from each other? What about comfort issues — are the windows too cold to sit in front of? Are there cold spots and drafts along outside walls? Does the vent hood actually remove polluted air to the outside or is it vented into an attic or back into the room? Do the pipes leak? These fixes must be part of the renovation.
How does the kitchen remodel tie in to other projects you’ve got planned?
 For example, the scope of a kitchen remodel might not include the insulation and air sealing the walls, roof, and foundation of the rest of the house, but if the building is extremely leaky, you’d be hard pressed to call any kitchen remodel green without addressing the energy-wasting problems first.
A better kitchen isn’t necessarily a bigger one
If you can refrain from adding more space to the kitchen, either with an addition or re-working interior space, you’ll spend less money and use fewer resources. Of course, adding in is always greener than adding on.
It’s often tempting to make a kitchen bigger and to add more bells and whistles— a second dishwasher, a larger refrigerator, a wine chiller, etc. These features should be carefully weighed against space requirements, energy use, and water use. Even more difficult may be decisions about storage—including countertop space for everyday appliances and concealed storage for small appliances and dry goods.

A Green Kitchen Remodel Case Study: Adding without Adding On
Kitchen_Illustration_grayThe owners of this 1,200-square-foot, 1948 house in Santa Cruz California, had an overall plan: remodel their home in a way that would allow them to live out their lives in one place. Because of mold and moisture issues, they had already upgraded the house envelope. Next they wanted to design a kitchen that would last forever, add a guest bathroom, and create a private master bath. The clients were looking for a way to redesign within the existing space of their concrete masonry home and were sold on the idea of building green.

AN OPEN FLOOR PLAN GROWS OLD GRACEFULLY. The homeowners planned to stay in the house for a long time and wanted to ensure that the new kitchen would work for them as they got older.

AN OPEN FLOOR PLAN GROWS OLD GRACEFULLY. The homeowners planned to stay in the house for a long time and wanted to ensure that the new kitchen would work for them as they got older.

Borrow from the mudroom to add to the kitchen
The existing kitchen was tiny, poorly laid out, and poorly furnished, but it adjoined a large mudroom. Reconfiguring the floor plan to subdivide the mudroom allowed the designer to expand the kitchen and add a guest bathroom without an addition or significant relocation of walls. Because the owners wanted to grow old in the building, every effort was made to ensure accessibility in the open plan. And although this project did not include a photovoltaic or greywater system, the remodel did include prewiring for a future PV system and pre-plumbing for greywater.

Article based on that found at Green Building Advisor: The Complete Source for Building, Designing, and Remodeling Green Homes,

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