Posted in Green Design

Not All Green Products Are Alike

The advertising of “green” built products is becoming more prevalent in print advertising. I drove by a local home improvement store and the whole side of the building was covered in a billboard ad that promoted “green” eco-friendly” cabinets.

Be careful of “white washing” of Green Products in the kitchen and bath industry. There are several parts to a cabinet that may not qualify as green. As with anything, let the buyer beware. Become an educated consumer and no one will be able to white wash you about their green products.

Green offerings are being refined and reformulated by the manufacturers daily as they respond to what the consumer is asking for. For an industry point of view read the article by Jeff Holloway at K+BB Green, Building a Green Cabinet Isn’t Easy.

Should we be upset with a manufacturer that calls it’s product green when in actuality it does have components that are carcinogenic? No, we shouldn’t. To produce a sustainable and healthy product is a process that that will continue to evolve. Cabinet manufacturers are offering better built green, but 100% green really is not 100% available in a quality built product. The off-gassing from the VOC’s found in some of these components in a Green built product still is so minimal in comparison to a non-Green built cabinet.

Never one to except something at face value, I learned a great deal about the glue and veneers used in the construction from one of my manufacturers that offer Green built cabinets. In a discussion I had with Jean-Pascal Saucier, Marketing Coordinator at Cuisines Laurier, he clarified the construction of their green built product. If we dissect a cabinet carcass, we may find the plywood itself maybe formaldehyde free. But there may be traces of formaldehyde in very small amounts in the veneer sheet that will be applied on the plywood.

The glue that is used to glue the veneer to the plywood will be formaldehyde free too. But formaldehyde could be found in the veneer sheets before they are glued to the plywood (in the glue used to hold together the pieces of veneer into a sheet).

And also remember that, even though parts of the box are formaldehyde free, the beautiful finish used for the doors, molding, panels and all exterior parts are not low VOC.

There is work to do yet and fortunately the cabinet manufacturers are working with their suppliers to find better materials and will be actively improving our green products in the years to come.



Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

5 thoughts on “Not All Green Products Are Alike

  1. Thanks Peggy for the follow up on your site. More homeowners are taking measures to detox their homes due to environmental sensitivities. Anyone who has lived in a house diagnosed with Sick House Syndrome knows what it is like to have extreme sensitivities due to environmental exposures that interfere with the body’s natural systems.
    The fact that more manufacturers are actively becoming certified by the Environmental Stewardship Program is a sign of the times. If it wasn’t for consumer demand, there wouldn’t be such a push for Green options.


  2. These blogs are great and I’ve been blogging alot about formaldehyde. As I learn about cabinetry and formaldehyde I’m beginning to think that we may be losing site of the forest because of the trees. Some cabinetry does contribute to harmful indoor air quality but it is not the only component of our designs that does. We need to begin to look at all of the components of our designs and recognize that we may be adding other products in our designs that contribute to harmful indoor air quality. I think we should start a discussion on other elements of our designs and find some other products that require taking a second look. What about our interior floor, ceiling and wall coverings, our HVAC systems and ventilation products. There is so much more to this discussion than just cabinetry. I’d like to see more about this.


  3. I am on board for that Jeff.
    Paint, carpet, upholstery, lacquer & stain finishes, household cleaning chemicals, perfume, dies, ventilation systems, the food that we eat are all possible factors that contribute to allergic reactions and sensitivities.

    When I was a kid, shopping with my parents for a new car, I remember popping into the new cars to spell that special “new car” smell. I was fine with most, because they have had time to air out and the chemicals had dissipated. After entering one car, hot off the assembly line, the interior still covered in plastic-never-opened-or-test-driven, my eyes teared up and I could not breathe due to the intense chemicals off gassing from the new upholstery.

    Having personal experiences with severe allergies, I have been actively working to identify which ones make me feel worse.


  4. I know it’s right around the corner, but if you are interested in some new industry products or how the green revolution is sweeping the Kitchen, Bath, Plumbing, PVF, Heating and Air Conditioning trades, then I invite you to come on over to the 5th edition of ISH North America on October 1 – 3, 2008 in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia World Congress Center.

    There will be quite a focus on green technology this year with:
    • Green Focused Seminars
    • UA Green Training Trailers
    • Renewable Energies Exhibits
    • Georgia Institute of technology Solar House Tour
    • Technology and Controls Pavilion
    • New Green Products Showcase
    It’s great becasue the products will be getting into the hands of the contractors and installers, who then can pass on this knowledge to their clients. Plus consumers can get a look at the new green technology that is available on the market. It wil be fun, educational, and very cost effective to boot!
    For more info, please see


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