Top rated in Eco-Friendly Construction materials is Stainless Steel!
Stainless Steel Cabinets and Countertops, while using a lot of energy to manufacture, thereafter, consume none. Simple mild soap and water can be used to maintain them, and several natural products are available if a more aggressive cleaning is warranted. The cabinet surface can be treated to be fingerprint resistant and of course no offensive, or unhealthy, vapor is ever released. As to lifespan – a stainless steel cabinet will outlive most people and sometimes several generations. When necessary they can be moved to another location or sold for 100% recycling thereby not requiring any additional natural resources to create another practical use.
Sustainable Building Practices and Subsequent Pollution Considerations
Several studies have shown that while the transportation sector may still be the largest consumer of our natural resources – airplanes, ships and cars – the building trades are now consuming up to 50% of our physical resources. Of course, transportation directly impacts the limited oil resource and the further pollutes the atmosphere burning it up; the building trades gobble up wood, minerals, water and massive amounts of oil/energy in its operations. Once a building is completed massive amounts of single use energy are consumed daily while heating, cooling, and maintaining the building. Furthermore, with America’s penchant for having “the latest”, remodeling and replacing worn looking building materials starts the cycle all over again.
The National Association of Home Builders has published a chart listing the lifespan of various building components and appliances.
While they specify that a toilet should last 50 years – assuming they are not talking about the internal plastic plumbing parts – they also give regular (i.e. wooden) kitchen cabinets only 15 years and laminate countertops 10 years. Keep in mind these cabinets are assumed to be solid wood; while most installed cabinets today are using a base of glued particle board, or interior plywood, with a thin laminate covering, the same as laminate counter tops. Most of us with kitchen remodeling experience understand it is not the material itself that degrades but the animal-based glues that hold the laminate to the cabinet box or board under the countertop. The very nature of these adhesives is to shrink over the years and eventually loose its holding ability thereby releasing the bond between the particle board and the decorative laminate.
This of course can be solved by using the hickory, pine, oak, cherry, etc. as solid wood throughout the cabinet box and/or doors. Many high-end installations where the budget is not an issue will do this, but most installations will default to cheaper laminate on plywood or particle board boxes. This being the most popular solution one must also understand that certain of these adhesives may, over time, be giving off vapors from the glue as it dries through its natural life cycle.
Using Lasertron Direct’s Stainless cabinets/countertops can decrease/eliminate the above issues. Not only is our construction made with stainless steel but our glues and cores are also recyclable and eco-friendly!
Looking at the cabinets/countertops life span one must realize that when replaced there is no recycling method for these countertops and cabinets. Short of burning them, which is not recommended due to the vapors the glue may produce when burned, you must just put them out for garbage waste which only further pollutes the overburdened landfills.
Mother Earth News named its “Most Eco-Friendly Home Construction Materials”:
• Recycled Stainless Steel – Using the same earth elements again and again
• Bamboo – One of the fastest growing woods with necessary strength for building uses
• Sheep’s Wool – Grows quickly and naturally
• Straw Bales – Again a fast-growing renewal resource
• Precast Concrete – Made under controlled conditions and then just installed in-place
• Plant-Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam – great insulator and healthy for people
These factors all point to using renewable stainless steel in your kitchen designs and remodels. Think of a stainless steel installation as an asset to be passed down to your children and grandchildren.