Turett’s Top Tips for Creating a Sustainable Kitchen

Greenport Passive House Kitchen by The Turett Collaborative

1. Remember Sustainability is Not an All-or-Nothing Pursuit

Whether you are building new or renovating, the way to design a more environmentally-friendly kitchen is to take as many steps as possible towards Passive House standards. Deemed one of the best paths to net-zero, a typical Passive House consumes about 90 percent less heating energy than an existing home and 75 percent less energy than average new construction while also delivering filtered fresh air to all habitable spaces 24/7, a key feature in fighting the spread of COVID.

But you don’t have to go full-on Passive – small steps, a desire for change, and a positive mindset can all contribute to a more sustainable world.  Beyond this, consider how any improvement to your space will enhance resale value – especially with the topics of health, wellness, and sustainability in the spotlight and a majority of global consumers planning to improve their overall health & wellness within the next year.

2. Buy Local & Consider Longevity + Repurposing

Perhaps the important factor to consider here is the quality of your materials. In order to make the most sustainable choice, you want to choose long-lasting materials that will stay in your home and out of landfills. Upcycling and repurposing original materials is a sustainable, and budget-friendly, choice. Mix-matching old and new materials can even add a certain design edge to your space, and scrapped materials can be repurposed for alternative uses throughout the house, e.g. using old marble as a fire surround in the living room.

Another sustainable decision is to opt for locally-sourced materials. Use your location as a key deciding factor in sourcing materials. (Learn more about materials & resources from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED credit library site here).

3. Mind the Glue on Your New Cabinets

For cabinets, a great material option is a wood-based substrate called MDF. However, MDFs are often accompanied by formaldehyde glue, so you’ll want to make sure it is a formaldehyde-free MDF.

4. Do Your Homework on ENERGY STAR® Appliances & Lighting 

When it comes to appliances, most will fit within the ENERGY STAR® category of saving electricity. But if you want to substantially reduce your energy consumption (and really save on the power bill), you will need to research how much each appliance costs to run versus its competitors. According to Turett, Gaggenau, Neely, Bosch, Samsung, Beko, and LG are some of the best appliance brands when it comes to sustainability. For lighting, LED lights tend to use a lot less electricity. Using dimmers, light wall paint, and task lighting + lamps instead of overhead lights can also save you energy – and money.

5. Reduce Food Waste by Selecting a Fridge with Food-Preserving Technology

Everyone’s familiar with the frustration of having to throw away the now-rotten avocado that once looked perfect in the store. But did you know that 40% of all food in America is wasted? One way to remedy this issue is to invest in a refrigerator with food-preserving technology, like the Beko HarvestFresh™, which uses alternating colors blue-light to trick fruits and vegetables into thinking they are still in natural light, mimicking the light of sunrise with blue hues, midday with green and sunset with red to keeping produce fresh for up to 30 days.

6. Goodbye Gas, Hello Induction Cooking

Cooking with gas has long been touted as the method of choice by professional chefs, but it also produces carbon-rich fossil fuels which pollute the air. According to the World Health Organization and a recent Stanford Study, this can have significantly harmful health implications. However, cooking with induction does not have this negative effect, it is incredibly energy-efficient, using 85-90% of the heat energy produced, as opposed to gas cooking, which only uses 65-70% of the energy produced.

In addition to quick heating and boiling properties (with the ability to boil water in about a minute), induction cooktops like the Fisher & Paykel Induction Smoothtop Cooktop are also easy to clean and provide additional counter space when not in use.  Not ready to invest in induction just yet? Consider steam ovens, instant pots, or crock pots, which use less energy by either reducing cook time, water consumption, or electricity usage.

7. Install a Hood for Good in Your Kitchen (and Use it!) 

Greenport Passive House Induction Cooktop, Cooking Hood & Laminate Countertops

If you are unable to replace your gas stove or insist on keeping it, the second-most important step is to install a very good cooking hood to improve ventilation and extract polluted air. If you live in a small city apartment, you’re at an even greater risk of poor ventilation. Because of this, Turett strongly encourages city dwellers to consider putting an additional exhaust fan in the window.

8. Forget Washing by Hand, You’ll Save More Water with the Dishwasher

You have Turett’s permission to opt for dishwasher use as much as possible! Dishwashers actually conserve more water than washing by hand. ENERGY STAR® certified dishwashers use around 4 gallons of water per cycle, which is the same as running your sink for 2 mins straight. By opting for the dishwasher, you can also save around $130 per year in energy bills. Special soaps, like Cascade Platinum, can also be used to improve the efficiency of your dishwasher – take the brand’s hilarious ‘Do It Every Night’ commercial as further justification.

9. Don’t Take Your Countertops for Granite

With one-third of homeowners splurging on this area of the kitchen in 2021, it’s clear that homeowners are prioritizing countertops in their renovations. Provided it’s easy to mine and sourced locally, on-trend stone countertops are fairly sustainable options due to the material’s longevity. Not always thought of as a sought-after material, durable, easy to clean and reliable plastic laminate countertops like the one used in Turett own Passive House from Abet Laminati can be both a cost-saving and an environmentally-friendly option.

10. Look for Versa-tile Flooring & Consider a Woca Finish on Your Wood Floors 

In terms of flooring, Turett typically runs the same flooring material from the living room to the kitchen. That’s because many of his clients prefer an open plan look to enlarge their space. However, if you prefer separate material for the kitchen flooring, tile is an incredible option. Porcelain is pretty much indestructible with great hygienic properties.

Its indestructible properties allow it to contribute to waste reduction, with the ability to survive fire and floods, withstand fading, be installed over existing tile, and be salvaged or disposed of easily.  Natural wood is also a great option, especially when paired with a sustainable finish. WOCA is an incredible brand for finishing materials, made with plant-based ingredients for the coloring, finishing, cleaning, and maintenance of wood surfaces.