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How to Select Green Cabinets

Choosing what actually makes up a green home these days can be head-spinning, how can you always be certain that what you are choosing is the best option for you and the environment?

For cabinet selection, here’s one good way to know if your cabinet of choice is sustainable: The Environmental Stewardship Program Seal (ESP) is an environmental certification program that specifically targets kitchen and bath cabinets, developed by The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA). This Seal is what assures you that the manufacturing practices and materials used meet stringent criteria. The program is based on 5 areas:

1. USE OF CERTIFIED AND SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS (i.e. using wood from FSC certified sources, rapidly renewal materials like bamboo and Lyptus and veneer, using materials that are made up of recycled materials –particle boards, etc.)

2. ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURING PRACTICES (i.e. plant upgrades like high-output/low energy factory lighting and motors, automated high-efficiency machines/ retraining workforce in efficient work practices, reclaiming and reusing solvent products, purchasing recycled secondary products, hybrid autos, using LEAN principles)

3. WASTE & RECYCLE MANAGEMENT (i.e. supporting any and all recycling programs (paper, cardboard, beverage containers, scrap metal, wood fiber, etc.), using recycled cardboard for packaging, recycling waste product – use for heating, pet beds, etc.)

4. CONTROL OF AIR QUALITY & EMISSIONS (i.e. low formaldehyde-emitting materials, low, ultra-low, or no voc VOC finishes)

5. SOCIAL STEWARDSHIP (i.e. paying employees a living wage and providing benefits, taking part in the local community, and sponsoring missions and charity work vulnerable counties)

There are well over 100 manufactures who have worked to achieve and maintain this certification. All three of our main lines at The Artisans Group (Crystal, Columbia, and Woodland) have been awarded the Environmental Stewardship Program Seal (ESP). When shopping for cabinets, there are several green options to look for:

  • Cabinet box content options: 100% recycled, no VOC’s, plywood made with soy-based resins
  • Good wood choices: Lyptus, Bamboo, Ipe, Fast growing wood veneers with a ‘green’ substrate
  • Laminate Finishes: Choose a laminate that uses water based resins and some recycled paper content in their manufacturing process, couple with a ‘green’ substrate
  • Edge Banding: ABS edge banding instead of PVC (ABS is a chlorine free edge tape)
  • Finshes: Look for UV water based self-seal top coat in a natural finish

If all of that still feels a bit overwhelming, come on by our showroom and talk to Brenda, we have lots of samples that will demystify the world of ‘green’ cabinets.

Update 6.10.10

Here is a link to a great website, the US Green Building Council Green Home Guide. The guide is an information clearinghouse created to help us make better choices when confronted with all the ‘green’ options out there these days.

The public is encouraged to submit questions which are then reviewed and answered by someone in the national pool of industry experts.

Click on the question below to get the answer from David Bergman, a NY architect.


I am wondering about reconstituted wood. I am redoing a kitchen and want greener options for cabinets/flooring. Is reconstituted wood green?