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Going Green in the Kitchen…Broccoli Not Included


Heat, Power and Appliances:

If solar isn’t in the budget, orient windows to allow winter rays to heat the house. Discuss type of glass, frame and glazing. Talk to your contractors about special appliances like induction stoves to minimize power needs, and learn how to read an Energy Star rating. Energy Star labels also give a projected annual kilowatt/hour usage for each appliance. Divide that by 12 and find out roughly how many kw/hrs you’ll use each month.


To run wiring and plumbing, your contractor will probably pull out the drywall, so discuss green insulation to save energy on heating and cooling with an eco-friendly product. Old-school fiberglass insulation is still an option, as is recycled, natural fiber such as ground up newspaper. However, greener, closed-cell foam provides a vapor barrier as well as insulation, and it’s air tight. Soy-based, closed-cell foam is the most green option, but it’s also more expensive.


Countertops and cabinets offer myriad recycled options, often 80–100 percent; many finished off-gassing or leeching formaldehyde years ago. Cabinets are one of the biggest off-gassers in a house. Consider volatile organic compound—how much gas a product emits—when choosing countertops, cabinets, flooring, paint and finishes. Low VOC products tend to be more expensive, but concrete countertops are low VOC and not too pricey.

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