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Tech Set Lists Features to Make Kitchens Green

A new tech set from the Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology (PATH) provides information on improving the energy-performance of kitchens that can be used for new construction or remodeling.

Lighting, refrigeration and cooking account for 41.5% of a home’s energy consumption, according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Energy, and energy is also used in the kitchen for water heating and space heating and cooling.

Following are features that are included in PATH’s “Green Kitchen Remodel Tech Set”:

  • Kitchen Recycling Center. Available pre-assembled or in cabinet retro kits, these modified cabinets can take the mess out of managing recyclables.

  • Eco-Friendly Flooring. Bamboo, cork and eucalyptus flooring products are sustainable alternatives for slower growing hardwoods and are beautiful, affordable and sustainable. These grasses and trees mature in roughly half the time that it takes hardwoods, grown in colder climates, to reach market size.

  • Low-Maintenance, Long-Lasting Countertops. Stained concrete countertops use non-toxic, natural pigments rather than surface-applied stains, while there is also the option of adding other recycled materials into the mixture. Many types of indigenous stone are also available and can come from salvage and remnants; these need to be well-sealed to prevent staining.

  • Air Admittance Valves. Pressure-activated, one-way mechanical valves are installed in plumbing drain lines in place of through-the-roof venting, helping to put fewer holes in the roof and reducing callbacks for leaks. The valves are durable and operate with the discharge of wastewater, just like conventional plumbing vents. By eliminating piping and flashing, there is a net savings after the initial investment of $25 to $40.

  • Wall Insulation. Nothing improves the comfort and energy-efficiency of a kitchen more than plenty of insulation in the exterior walls. To add insulation to existing homes, it is common practice to blow fibrous insulation material — fiberglass or natural materials like cellulose and mineral wool — into enclosed wall, floor and roof cavities, inhibiting air circulation within them and eliminating a significant cause of condensation and moisture problems.

  • ENERGY STAR Windows, Doors and Skylights. Depending upon the region of the country, home owners can achieve energy savings of $110 to $400 a year by replacing single-panes with ENERGY STAR qualified windows. These use low-e glass with solar shading, which makes the room more comfortable, protects items from sun damage and reduces condensation on windows.

  • ENERGY STAR Task Lighting and Lighting Controls. Common in commercial buildings, automatic lighting controls are now available in a variety of residential applications, ranging from a simple outdoor light fixture with a built-in photosensor to whole-house programmable controls that activate lights based on the activities of the residents. Many controls, like dimmer switches and motion detectors, can be retrofitted into standard electrical switch boxes; and their cost can often be offset by the energy savings in the first year they are used.

  • ENERGY STAR Appliances. Qualified refrigerators, dishwashers and vent fans incorporate advanced technologies that use 10% to 50% less energy and water than standard models, more than making up for the slightly higher costs of these products.

  • Universal Design Kitchen Cabinets. With a wide range of cabinets and accessories available, these can help increase the value of the home by appealing to the increasing market demand for accessibility. “If you are resurfacing existing cabinets,” the Tech Set says, “sealing these with low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint or stain or laminating them with a new surface will seal the substrates. Cabinets that are made with particleboard or fiberboard are likely to contain urea formaldehyde and are not resistant to moisture.”

  • Low-VOC Paints and Finishes. These paints release no or minimal amounts of potentially harmful gasses and are virtually odor-free, improving the indoor air quality of the home and making it particularly safer for people with chemical sensitivity. “Also, latex paints use water as their solvent and carrier, making it easier and less toxic to clean them up."

  • Mold-Resistant Gypsum or Cement Board. Some gypsum board manufacturers have developed products with paperless coatings and gypsum cores that will not absorb moisture as easily as typical gypsum board. To reduce the risk of mold growth on paper facings, a number of manufacturers chemically treat the paper on both sides of the gypsum board, while others eliminate the paper entirely and replace it with a gypsum-cellulose combination. The result is a mold-resistant wall panel that helps maintain good indoor air quality, while reducing the probability of costly replacement or remediation.

  • Induction Cooktop. Magnetic induction cooking uses electricity to produce a magnetic field that causes molecular movement in cookware. The movement produces heat that warms the pot and its contents. Because the stovetop doesn’t get hot, it’s a safer cooking method, and it’s faster, uses less energy and provides more precision.

For information on green building resources available from NAHB, e-mail Calli Schmidt, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8132.

Attend the Green Building Conference in St. Louis

Mark your calendar for March 25-27 for NAHB's National Green Building Conference in St. Louis.

In addition to education sessions, the conference will feature a property tour of green built homes in the area, the green building awards dinner and a new designation course on green building for builders and remodelers.

For more information, visit, www.nahb.org/greenbuilding.

Entry Period Underway for Green Building Awards

Entries are now being sought for NAHB’s National Green Building Awards, which recognize individuals, companies and organizations for helping to move green into the mainstream of the housing industry through their designs and construction practices.

The annual awards will be presented during ceremonies at the association’s National Green Building Conference, which will be held in St. Louis on March 25 to 27.

The awards honor achievements in seven categories:

  • Advocate of the Year
  • Green Building Program of the Year
  • Outstanding Green Marketing Program
  • Green Project of the Year — Single-Family
  • Green Project of the Year — Multifamily
  • Green Project of the Year — Land Development
  • Green Project of the Year — Remodeling

Members are invited to submit a completed application package by Dec. 29, 2006.

For project awards, construction must have been started by June 2005 and substantially completed by December 2006.

To enter by mail, send a hard copy and a disk of the completed application. For an application form and instructions on how to send logos, project photos and other artwork, click here.

For more information, e-mail Emily English at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8366.

Get Green Building Intelligence Today at BuilderBooks.com

Residential Green Building SmartMarket Report,” available through BuilderBooks.com, addresses the growing trends and opportunities in green home building.

The report provides the results of market research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction and NAHB about green building in home construction.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

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