- Cabinets Cabinetry is expensive and takes a beating in a much-used kitchen. Which requires that cabinet finishes be tough and durable. Often, though, cabinet finishes contain high VOC's, which can offgas into the air for a long time. Look for natural wood seals and paints that are low- or no-VOC when installing new or refinishing old cabinets. And be sure that any woods used are FSC-certified.
- Natural Light Bringing daylighting into the kitchen means you rely less on electric lighting. This can reduce heat buildup in an already hot room, reduce your energy bill, and make you feel healthier and more alert. Consider ways to treat your windows that let daylight in while allowing you to reduce glare and heat gain (like window films and translucent washable window shades). If you're lucky enough to be designing a kitchen from scratch, windows over the sink provide perfect natural task lighting and lighten your mood even when washing dishes.
- Countertops Choose a material that is non-porous and easily cleaned in wet and prep areas. Wood countertops are terrific for other parts of the kitchen: left natural, made of FSC-certified wood and simply maintained with mineral oil, they are an the most sustainable choice with very little processing absolutely no dangerous offgassing.
- Layout A sensible and efficient layout of kitchen floorspace, storage, appliances, and work zones will allow you to fit more into a smaller footprint. Undeniably, small homes use less material and consume less energy in the long run. And that's always a healthy choice.
(Image: Neil Lerner Kitchens)