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Many small cabinet makers have made great strides toward wise resource management and reduced indoor pollutants in their products, and some of the big players are (finally) getting serious.
Back in the mid-1990s, it was almost impossible to find off -the-shelf cabinetry that didn’t contain particleboard saturated with formaldehyde, with the exception of one or two semi-custom high-end or European manufacturers. It’s easier now, but primarily because of the efforts of small-scale cabinet shops. The U.S. cabinet industry at large, like the carpet industry, has been a follower—not a leader—in the arena of environmental responsibility and pollution control.


In 2006, the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) launched an in-house sustainability bench-mark called the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). The program has some fl aws, but at least it’s a move toward the light. Many firms have used ESP guidelines as a baseline for how to improve sustainability. Keep in mind that not every green cabinet line will be KCMA certified, any more than every eco-friendly builder’s work is LEED certified. But those that do get the ESP seal have at least taken some steps to clean up their practices and products.


ESP offers manufacturers 105 possible points. They have to get 80 to qualify for certification. It should be noted that they self certify by sending in documentation (often from other industry-friendly organizations such as the Composite Panel Association) to prove that they have met certain criteria.


A cabinet company looking for the ESP label must achieve a minimum number of points in each of the following categories:


Air Quality __________________________________30
Product Resource Management __________________30
Process Resource Management __________________20
Environmental Stewardship _____________________ 15
Community Relations __________________________ 10


 


MOLD-RESISTANT INSTALLATION
The details of installation figure into the performance of wood cabinets. The back or bottom of the cabinet must be kept from direct contact with the back wall or floor. That’s a likely area for mold and mildew growth. Installing rust resistant metal “feet” is one easy way to get the job done.


 


GREENQUEST BY CRYSTAL CABINETS
Recently certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, Crystal Cabinets takes sustainability seriously. They limit the use of urea formaldehyde in cabinet boxwork, use low-VOC finishes, and incorporate recycled materials into their products. www.crystalcabinets.com


ARMSTRONG CABINETS
Having recently earned ESP certification (in 2007) from the KCMA, Armstrong has taken some steps to green its operations and its products. You may need to ask about a specific product line to get the green details, however. www.armstrong.com

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