Kitchen Cabinet Industry Going Green

The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association’s Environmental Stewardship Program (KCMA-ESP) encourages cabinet manufacturers to go green in all aspects of cabinet production, from smart harvesting to a healthier final product.

If cabinet manufacturers built simply to qualify for LEED credits, they could use recycled materials or no formaldehyde in their final product, but cause enormous environmental destruction in their manufacturing process.  Rather than simply gauging the final product’s green-ness, the KCMA-ESP takes every step in a cabinet’s life into account.  How was the wood harvested?  How much energy was wasted in its production?   Were the wood shavings, sawdust, or scrap reused for fuel or some other purpose?  Does the final product contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like urea-formaldehyde?

In a special supplement to this month’s Kitchen & Bath Design News titled “The Greening of the Cabinet Trade,” the KCMA lays out the history of the ESP program, their goals, and a listing of certified companies.  Modeled after the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Home Guidelines program, the program awards points in five categories: air quality, product resource management, process resource management, environmental stewardship, and community relations.  In order to qualify, manufacturers must score a minimum of 80 points out of a possible 105.  For a full description, check out the KCMA-ESP website.

The KCMA-ESP’s statement of beliefs:

  • The forests not only provide outstanding environmental benefits, but also provide an array of renewable wood products and derivatives.
  • We encourage the continued and expanded use of forest products.
  • We are committed to promoting conservation and the intelligent use of our natural resources.
  • We support and encourage responsible forest management practices that promote sustainability and result in long-term economic and environmental benefits.
  • We are committed to educating our members and customers in the global wood products community about environmental and forestry issues.

One example of a certified manufacturer is Wellbourn Cabinets, who improved their manufacturing efficiency enough to save over 300,000 cubic feet of natural gas and reduce boiler air emissions 50% lower than required by state and EPA regulations by adding an Electrostatic Precipitation Unit.

Kevin O’Neill, V.P. of the KCMA board of directors, said in The Greening of the Cabinet Trade that they hope to see KCMA-ESP recognized by the USGBC’s LEED program.  “It would be a real step to have the ESP recognized under their requirements as it already is under the NAHB residential specifications.”

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