After 28 years in this business, I have just built my first eco-kitchen. Pre-finished maple interiors using Columbia's Purebond, Coco-palm doors and end panels with No Voc's clear finish, etc. The Client was very pleased and I started advertising in a local "natural awakenings" magazine that is widely distributed to health food stores and other natural shopping venues. I also Googled green builders and designers in South Florida as well as organic food co-ops and other alternate-life style forums.
Everyone was excited about the concept, but nothing has come of it. One designer told me her clients don't seem to take at all, as long as the price is competitive; which it is not as present. Formaldehyde free products are rare and expensive and items like Bamboo plywood are very costly as they are trendy. You would think that with a growth rate of a foot a day, this renewable resource would be cheaper, but the mystique makes it expensive. Has anyone had similar experience? Am I way ahead of the curve?
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor D:
This is what irks me about "green" building. I’m all for it and we should take care of our planet - that's a no brainer. However, in order to be environmentally responsible you have to be rich, as all the products and methods come at a higher cost. Unfortunately a lot of the people with the money to afford it don't seem to care about being "eco-friendly". Lots of the people I've worked for actually make their millions from non-renewable resources/energy. Maybe that’s an indicator?
I'm also currently working on a fireplace mantel using the 2"x30"x96" material from Totally Bamboo. It's also great stuff. What I like about the bamboo sheet material is that it's more like working with solid wood than a plywood. If you take a customer a piece of the bamboo and compare it to regular plywood they can easily see why it costs a bit more.
Most are neither and thus we are just essentially postponing the inevitable trip to the landfill. Not to cast a negative on your efforts here because you are at least doing something but what is the next level?
The NAF component is the simplest way, I think, for any cabinet shop to go green. With California's new air quality regulations limiting formaldehyde in cabinets and furniture sold there, most every sheet stock manufacturer now has some NAF option - generally, in my experience, at around a 5% premium. And with most everyone in the country having heard of the dangers of Katrina trailers and the health risks associated with long-term exposure to formaldehyde (a known carcinogen, according to the EPA), selling NAF cabinets is easy.
For wood, I use either Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sustainably-harvested lumber (available from any of my normal wholesale suppliers, again at around a 5% premium) or locally-salvaged wood from a handful of guys I know with bandsaw mills (with prices starting at $1.50/bf, KD, planed, and straight-lined).
For finishes, I generally use Tried and True’s original formula of Danish oil and beeswax—no VOCs, no HAPS, no spray booth, no hazardous waste, no air quality permits, no off-gassing in clients’ homes. It’s cheap, simple and safe (if relatively time-consuming) to apply, and easy for clients to touch up and maintain.
I’ve never understood why green building has such a reputation for being expensive. In my experience, a $10,000 set of kitchen cabinets might include a $40 premium for NAF plywood and a $15 premium for FSC lumber. If someone is shopping for custom cabinets, they’re not exactly hobos. That relatively small upcharge makes them feel (rightfully) better about the job and reflects choices that are better for the environment, protect their family’s health, and help with resale.