Do Sustainable Kitchens Have To Be Small?

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Contemporary design is hot, no doubt about it. And many modern designs are slim, subtle and sustainable. But when I looked at this award-winning design from Kristin Laass and Norman Ebelt, I began to wonder. Does having a sustainable kitchen mean that I need to be minimalistic in terms of space?
Let’s face it, with any home improvement we need to work with what we have. So although this “small kitchen” is wild and wonderful for some, it isn’t necessarily going to fit the bill for many. It would look a little strange tucked into a corner of my kitchen, after all.

One of the reasons why the small kitchen came out as the top dog in this design contest was the efficient use of space and materials. No doubt that is sustainable design in a nut shell. Use less materials to do more and you reduce your footprint and help maintain resources.
But how can we do that in the large, sometimes sprawling kitchens we have? (OK, I don’t feel bad for you if you have a sprawling kitchen – that’s just not fair.)
Water and energy conservation are the first steps to a sustainable kitchen.
Replace your existing faucets and fixtures with the latest water-saving models. Kohler’s Touchless line offers water only when you need it and those fixtures with a “WaterSense” tag have an aerator built in to cut down on the total water usage.
For energy conservation take a look at that fridge and stove, maybe even the dishwasher. Are they Energy Star-rated? What would the cost of an appliance upgrade be? How about the light bulbs? Switching to CFLs is cost efficient and only takes a few minutes work for long-term gain.
Renewable Resources
Your kitchen construction can also be sustainable, from floor to counters, cabinets and furniture.
Bamboo flooring is a great option, as are refurbished or salvaged kitchen cabinets. Recycled glass countertops are gorgeous as well as green and make for a stunning kitchen reno project.
Salvaged or secondhand kitchen furniture is another great way to be more sustainable. Check out the local vintage shops to find solid, high quality tables, chairs and other dining furniture. You may even save some cash over buying new, not to mention help the planet.
So although this small kitchen wins big kudos for design and sustainability, there are more practical, simple ways to green your kitchen space. But you may never get it to fold up into a cool, 1 meter square box.
Photo courtesy of DesignBoom

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