Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How our Kitchen will be Green: Cabinets

As we begin re-building our kitchen, our goal was to have something that was not just green but also liveable and affordable. As with most kitchen re-models a big part of the focus went into the cabinets. They determine the look and feel of the room but are also a huge factor in both how green and how healthy the room will be.

The big concern with cabinets is VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. These are chemicals that release in gas form at room temperature. So essentially air pollution that can have an impact on the environment and your health. And unfortunately in a typical home renovation (or construction) you are going to introduce a lot of them into your home. They are traditionally in your paint, glues, sealant, cabinets, flooring, cabinets, etc. In cabinets, they are caused by the formaldehyde in the melamine or the plywood glue.

Apart from the VOC issue, the green factor is impacted by the material and its source. Solid wood cabinets are the best choice for the VOC side but they wouldn't be very environmentally friendly if the wood came from hacking down swathes of the Amazon. (Solid wood cabinets also tend to be out of most peoples price range).

The best way to avoid introducing VOCs into a new kitchen is to not buy new cabinets. Re-facing or re-finishing existing cabinets is the greenest option: no new materials, no new chemicals. Our existing cabinets were in decent shape but with reconfiguring our kitchen space they didn't fit. So... we started shopping. To be honest it was a brutal to start. The first couple places we went that specialized in "green" cabinets gave us rough quotes of $40 to $50k, which was light years out of our budget.

Luckily though, with some late night surfing Jody found AyA kitchens ( A couple visits and we were sold. The cabinets were attractive, affordable, and green:

Green features:

  • "EVO" particleboard box has no added formaldehyde and is made from 100% recycled content
  • Wood doors are FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council - which means how the wood was harvested was done so in a sustainable manner)
  • All adhesives are also formaldehyde free
  • Any plastics are lead free and non-VOC
  • AyA also has a long list of green processes involved in their manufacture

Not only was the product green, but the beautiful kitchen in the pictures is the hard work of Tobi, AyA's designer/customer rep. We gave her dimensions and really rough guidelines of what we were after and loved what she came up with. So now we just need to wait 6-8 weeks for delivery.

LEED points: (MR2.2) A half point for "environmentally preferable" cabinets.


  1. Looking forward to seeing things come together man!

    Also - Diggin' the blog design ;-)

  2. So am I!

    And yes, a lot of time and energy went into perfecting the layout, background, etc. We call it "Picture WIndow: Generic". I am particularly proud of our bold choice to go with "arial" for the blog title; kind of a tribute to our friends in the graphic design world. :)

  3. Unfortunately, Montreal no longer has an Aya kitchens representative. We were very happy with the products and the people there but I guess that team is no longer associated with the Aya brand.

  4. Hi, curious, how much cheaper was Aya's kitchen cabinets? We got quotes from 4 places already (for our kitchen reno) and boy aren't they expensive so I was wondering how Aya's prices fair in comparison to others? Thanks. Sandra

  5. خدمات منزلية جيدة تحل لك الكثير من المشاكل المنزلية التي تكون مزعجة لكم مثل تسريبات المياه التي تظهر بالحوائط والاسقف وتحتاج الي
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام تكون متخصصة للحصول علي سبب التسريب بدون تكسير وتخريب فالتعامل مع
    شركة كشف تسربات بالدمام لديها خبرة كبيرة في التعامل مع مثل هذه الاشياء فهذا يحدث مع شركة ركن البيت التي تكون متخصصة في مثل هذه المجالات في السعودية لدينا اشهر المدن التي نقدم بها الخدمة وهي الرياض التي يمكنك التواصل معها من خلال شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالرياض والتي تصل بكم الي قمة الاعمال في مثل هذه الخدمات فلدينا في شركة كشف تسربات بالرياض اهم الفنين والاجهزة الحديثة التي تساعدنا علي انجاز هذه المهام فمن الان لا تقلق بشأن التسربات التي توجد بالمباني الخاص لانك سوف تحصل علي خدمة جيدة