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What's cooking? Environmental designs stir things up in the eco kitchen.

While the kitchen is the center of most American homes, it's often an afterthought when it comes to making environmental improvements. But considering that the kitchen consumes 20 to 40 percent of household energy, it's really a good place to concentrate your efforts. E, with the help of Green Pages eco-interior designers Andrew Fuston and Kim Nadel, has put together a model kitchen full of energy-saving appliances and recycled products.

The kitchen cabinets are from Becker Zeyko of Germany, recipient of the prestigious Blue Angel Award, which recognizes companies that excel in environmental manufacturing and product innovation. Engineered for beauty and durability, the cabinets come in 200 different styles, and the company ensures that no endangered hardwoods are used. Roar Vaernes, CEO of Becker Zeyko's U.S. subsidiary, says the cabinets are 100 percent free of formaldehyde, a carcinogen that "outgasses" from standard units. "They're also free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which forms a poisonous gas if there's a fire in the home," Vaernes says. "Our cabinets can safely return to Mother Earth as ashes." All packaging is recyclable, as are the cabinets themselves.

The dishwasher is from Sweden's ASKO, and its most distinctive feature is its reluctance to waste water. Conventional dishwashers use up to 10 gallons in a full cycle, but the ASKO gets dishes sparkling dean (thanks to a unique four-way spray system) with just 5.3 gallons. ASKO saves resources in other ways, too: Its dishwashers use 40 percent less electricity and just a tiny amount of detergent. Inner casings are made from surgical-quality stainless steel, and ASKO dishwashers are also triple-insulated, which means they're whisper-quiet in operation.

Refrigerators are typically big power wasters in U.S. kitchens, but the 25.2 cubic-foot side-by-side Whirlpool unit in the eco-kitchen exceeds federal energy standards by 38 percent. Whirlpool's new side-by-side models incorporate many new energy-saving features, and in general exceed federal energy standards by 25 percent.

In 1968, England-based Creda was the developer of the convection oven, which is often championed by professional cooks. "The convection process moves the hot air around, reducing cooking times, allowing better heat penetration and better texture," says Creda's Michael DeCamp. The Creda convection oven in the kitchen has its heat source in the rear and uses a built-in fan to circulate warmed air, resulting in an oven without "cold spots." Energy efficiency is assured, because cooking times are reduced by 30 percent and temperatures cut by 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Creda Solarspeed electric glass cooktop in the kitchen uses halogen technology (similar to household lamps and car headlights, but more powerful) for very fast, even heating. The space-saving cooktop is easy to clean and sits flush with the countertop. The Vent-A-Hood wall-mounted Emerald Series hood is super-efficient and helps keep the kitchen dean and odor-free. Complementing the cooktop and hood is a back-splash made from Terra-Green recycled glass tiles. Terra-Green, an Indiana-based company, is the only manufacturer in the world to mix ceramics with 55 percent recycled glass (the process is called Glass Fusion) to create a unique textured material, sold as the Tierra Classic line. Terra Green recovers and recycles all the ceramic wastes that are byproducts of manufacturing.

The eco kitchen sports a hard-wearing Big City Forest butcher block countertop, made from reclaimed maple. Big City Forest estimates that the wood it had reused by May 1996 - more than five million board feet - saved the equivalent of more than 1,100 acres of timberland. Tap water in the green kitchen is purified - not filtered - by General Ecology's Seagull IV X-1 system, which is federally certified to remove cysts, bacteria and viruses.

CONTACTS: ASKO, 903 North Bowser, #200, Richardson, TX 75081/(972)644-8595; Becker Zeyko, 1030 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501/(510)865-1616; Big City Forest, 1809 Carter Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457/(718)731-3931; Creda, 5700 West Touhy Avenue, Niles, IL 60714/(847)6478024; General Ecology, 151 Sheree Boulevard, Exton, PA 19341/(800)441-8166; Green Pages, 399 Fourth Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215/(718)369-2578; Terra-Green Technologies, 1650 Progress Drive, Richmond, IN 47374/(765)935-4760; Vent-A-Hood, 1000 North Greenville, Richardson, TX 75083/(972)235-5201; Whirlpool Corporation, Benton Harbor, MI 49022/(800)253-1301.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Earth Action Network, Inc.
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Author:Motavalli, Jim
Date:Jul 1, 1997
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