WHAT MAKES A CABINET GREEN?
ENGINEERED WOOD VENEER
As a surfacing option, thin wood veneer is considered green because it can be made from younger growth trees or with leftover scraps from furniture factories.
The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association has its own green certification program called the Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). As with any industry self assessment, ESP certification should be used as a baseline to identify green-minded companies, not a guarantee that a particular brand will meet all of your sustainability expectations. Keep in mind that many companies that make sustainable cabinetry and shelving do not pursue KCMA certification.
CERTIFIED WOOD DOORS
The lumber used in doors and other parts of the cabinet box should come from companies certified by FSC, SFI, or another credible certifying organization.
CLEAN CORE MATERIALS
The formaldehyde bonded particle board and plywood often used for shelving is bad for indoor air quality. New products include agrifiber panels (typically straw-based), that use low-VOC binders to replace formaldehyde glues.
Straw is replacing wood in some types of cabinet base shelves.
LOW-IMPACT PAINT OR STAIN
To limit VOCs from paints or stains, you have two options: If you’re set on a hard, glossy enamel finish, the best bet is to have it baked on at the factory, where it can fully offgass. For cabinets finished onsite, low-VOC, water-based stains or paints should be specified.
Merillat holds an ESP certification, and reduced the pollutants in its finishes and wood products. We hope they’ll go even further in this direction. They’ve also encouraged their wood suppliers to pursue FSC certification. www.merillat.com
This company publishes an extensive statement about what it means to be green. Although they separate their green cabinet line from other products in their lineup, they appear to know their stuff. http://evergreencabs.com