A Product Is Only as Sustainable as the Sum of Its Parts

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Selecting sustainable cabinetry requires careful examination of multiple components.

One of those little inconveniences with documenting credits for a USGBC LEED for Homes certified project is tracking installed materials where their presence can involve both the Materials & Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality categories. This can become a tedious exercise when the material is actually a component consisting of several materials, as is the case with cabinetry and millwork.

Katy Tomsula wrote a good article on ebuild, The Sum of Its Parts, describing the various components – from raw materials to alternative materials to finishes – and how technology and manufacturers are addressing the environmental concerns associated with these materials.

“The formaldehyde levels of [composite] products have come down dramatically over the past 10 years,” says Dick Titus, executive vice president of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA).
Though low-VOC finishes are becoming more readily available, they’re not yet widespread due to concerns that their quality and richness aren’t always equivalent and the application may be unfamiliar.

With the many components that need exploring, it’s easy to get bogged down by the product selection process.

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