Elements of a sustainable kitchen / dining area

Click on a pointer to the image to get more information on the sustainable elements of a kitchen/dining area

Highly rated energy-efficient appliances Separation of waste Cabinets and counter-tops made from sustainable non-toxic materials Durable, environmentally-friendly flooring Windows and skylights Kitchen exhaust ducted outdoors Image Map

 

Highly rated energy-efficient appliances

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Always buy the highest energy-efficient appliances you can afford. The Energy Star Rating system changed in 2010 and so when comparing old appliances with new, comparing just the stars won’t help. Instead compare the ‘estimated annual energy consumption’ which is also on the label.

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Separation of waste

In NSW, an average garbage bin contains 35% food waste, 10% garden waste and 22% potential recycling. Waste separation at source makes composting and recycling easy. Allow space in the kitchen for the separation of recyclables, paper, compostable material and general rubbish. It is amazing how little goes into the rubbish bin when you do this. Organics can be composted in a compost bin or worm farm and the rest recycled.

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Cabinets and counter-tops made from sustainable non-toxic materials

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Most fittings in a kitchen are made from wood products, so make sure they are made of environmentally responsible, robust products that can stand the test of years of use. Choosing classic design features rather than the latest trends will give your kitchen timelessness and reduce the need to update it and replace materials every few years.

Cabinetry, counter tops and splashbacks are other areas where environmental impacts could be considered. Some emerging products are bench tops made from bamboo and paper which can be incredibly strong as well as sustainable. Consider options where you can use:

  • sustainable timber, stone or timber veneers with zero or low-VOC sealants;
  • eco-accredited laminates and particleboard;
  • glass and tile splashbacks with zero or low-VOC adhesives;
  • Stainless steel.

Eco counter-tops made from bamboo/paper

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Durable, environmentally-friendly flooring

Choose sustainable flooring materials from a range of options in timber, bamboo, stone, slate, cork, tiles, concrete, sisal, coir or synthetic resilient surfaces such as linoleum. Concrete slabs have high embodied energy but offer greater thermal comfort. Ensure that zero or low-VOC water-based sealants and adhesives are used for whatever material you use. Additional heating through systems such as hydronic heating can be provided through the slab.

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Windows and skylights

Windows and skylights can bring in natural light into a windowless kitchen. Where there is a window, ensure that cross ventilation is possible.

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Kitchen exhaust ducted outdoors

The Australian Building Code sets out specifications for fresh air ventilation, which can be supplied either through openable doors and windows or through a mechanical air handling system. Recirculating kitchen exhaust systems are easy to install but are often ineffective against the build-up of cooking smells and condensation issues from steam, which can be detrimental for finishes.To maintain indoor air quality, it is best to exhaust cooking fumes and odours to the outside via ducts.

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