If you are looking to renew your kitchen with environmentally friendly cabinets you’ll be excited to see all of your “green” options. Unfortunately, I hate to break it to you…it’s simple for companies to call their products green without actually qualifying for an eco-friendly label. The “green” buzzword is more popular now than ever before, and companies in various industries use the term as a marketing aid instead of actually adhering to the strict guidelines that make a product truly eco-friendly. When searching for sustainable and chemically safe cabinets, you’ll need to do your research. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it might be a really great actor.
When seeking reputable, eco-friendly cabinets for your kitchen remodel, find out why the product of interest is considered green. Are they just saying it’s green because it’s made out of trees which have green leaves? Did they use a microscopic green tint in its finish? Or are they actually certified by a company with environmental guidelines like the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) or GreenGuard Environmental Institute?
The KCMA has been issuing qualifications for green cabinetmakers through the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) since 2006. To become a certified cabinet manufacturer under this program, companies must meet standards regarding air quality, environmental stewardship, process management, and several other areas. Cabinet manufacturers who are issued ESP certification are allowed to place the KCMA ESP seal on their products.
Each year, the ESP certification process is evaluated and adjusted as needed to continue holding green cabinetmakers to high standards. In 2011, the KCMA made its green building standards even tougher, requiring manufacturers to use particleboard and plywood that emit low levels of formaldehyde. Additional considerations are also given to companies that invest in forestry as an incentive to promote environmentally sustainable harvesting.
As you search for environmentally safe cabinets, you may want to keep an eye out for the KCMA ESP seal on product packaging. If the seal appears, you can buy the product with the confidence that it stood up to the KCMA ESP guidelines. But what about products that are not ESP-approved? Are there any other ways to find out if a green cabinet manufacturer is actually “green”?
The GreenGuard Environmental Institute also issues certification standards for companies that claim to sell green home cabinets. GreenGuard’s qualification process is rigorous, taking nearly six months from the time of application to the date when certification is granted. During the procedure, the company’s manufacturing process is evaluated, the finished product is inspected, and an extensive product review is done in several test groups.
If the product passes these initial inspections, it is tested for another two to three weeks to ensure it meets the certification guidelines. Products are checked for the levels of chemical emissions they release and their resistance to mold growth. These standards have been put in place to protect indoor air quality in homes, public schools, and office buildings. Only after passing all of GreenGuard’s evaluations are a manufacturer and their product awarded certification.
Now that you’re familiar with some cabinet manufacturer environmental certifications, decide the qualities that are important to you in a green product. No “green stamp” on your product? Find out why it is called green…you may still be satisfied with the response. If you are going to pay a premium price for green cabinets, we want you to get the real-deal.
~Alan M. Eddison