You may already know about Earth Day, but did you know that the entire month of April has been recognized as “Earth Month” since the 1970s? What originally started as a single day in 1969 after a devastating oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara spurred a group of activists to seek out ways to support our planet, is now an internationally celebrated month dedicated to promote activism and awareness on behalf of environmental causes. This year’s theme is “Invest in our planet,” and there are lots of ways to do that, not the least of which is choosing to invest your dollars in sustainably made cabinetry.
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One of the key findings of the NKBA’s 2023 Design Trends Report reveals not only sustainability growing in importance, but also that certain environmentally-friendly products will become more highly specified by designers.
Not only do sustainable elements use less resources, they are also more cost-efficient long-term. They help protect our planet by lowering pollution levels and ensure a healthier environment for ourselves and future generations. Sustainable cabinets in your new home or remodel are a smart way to make a positive impact.
This Earth day I want to focus on a wood-based solution that is not just one of most sustainable decorative surface materials available—but also one of the most affordable, that doesn’t sacrifice quality or performance.
Sound impossible? Keep reading to learn how thermally fused laminate (TFL) provides a climate-friendly solution to your projects’ environmentally-sustainable design needs.
Over the years you’ve probably heard about the value of investing in quality cabinetry that has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood, has no added urea-formaldehyde and uses no- or low-VOC finishes.
TFL panels in woodgrain designs are widely used in applications where veneer or solid wood are just too fragile or expensive, but designers still want the feel of fine wood.
TFL panels are incredibly efficient to produce, are made with climate-positive (better than carbon neutral) composite wood cores that utilize wood fiber that is otherwise landfilled or burned.
Another major TFL advantage for Architects and Designers is the ability to replace a wall panel with an exact color and character match, years after the original installation.
Unlike veneers, TFL panels are water- and moisture-resistant and can have special cores specified for fire resistance, reduced weight, and enhanced screw-holding strength.
It can be confusing to figure out if companies are using sustainable practices or just advertising the environmental positive information while hiding the negative (greenwashing). The number one way to spot whether a manufacturer is as environmentally friendly as they claim is to check for external audits and certifications.
Panel Manufacturers are certified green and sustainable by the Composite Panel Association’s Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) Sustainability Standard. To qualify, individual manufacturing plants must first comply with the stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) and EPA formaldehyde emissions requirements for 100% of their panels 100% of the time, and also meet at least three of the additional requirements below:
The plant must demonstrate that the panel’s carbon store offsets its cradle-to-gate carbon footprint as determined in kg-CO2 equivalents of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Use of Local and Renewable Resources
At least 85 percent of the total wood fiber used annually must be sourced within 250 miles (402 km) of the manufacturing plant.
Made from Recycled/Recovered Materials
The plant must use a minimum of 75 percent recycled or recovered fiber; or, at least 50 percent recycled or recovered fiber and a minimum of 5 percent post-consumer fiber.
The plant must have documentation to show that more than 97 percent of fiber furnish brought on-site is either converted into composite panels or other non-waste products.
The plant shall hold a valid certificate from a certifying agency recognized by CPA such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC—Controlled Wood Standard or Chain of Custody Standard) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI—Fiber Sourcing Standard).
For a complete list of companies certified to the ECC standard, visit ECC-certified Company List.
Never Sacrifice Style
Design concepts for TFL panels come from an infinite number of places, and with today’s technology, the printed realizations of materials found in nature, industry or even in the imagination, are stunningly vibrant.
By capturing high-definition images of rare and exotic woodgrains (which are illegal to import) for use in TFL, producers are helping to reduce the demand for those solid woods and veneers.
Did you know Ipe (Pronounced E-Pay), commonly known as “Brazilian Walnut,” populations are ultimately threatened by the scale of both legal and illegal logging in the Amazon Basin? While not red-listed yet, a recent report warns these trees have been pushed close to extinction. Using TFL panels not only helps to stop illegal harvesting, it also helps other species in the same habitat.
If you want an exotic look or unique colorway for your new cabinetry, take heart in using the only manmade decorative surface effective in evoking the beauty of raw and finished wood.
If you have your eye on custom cabinetry, Kitchen Studio of Naples has everything you need.
Book a free consultation with a KSN kitchen expert at our Naples, Florida showroom!