What makes this sunny, modern kitchen more sustainable than most?

The counter-tops are made with recycled coal fly ash and natural black pigment

Concerned about the safety of using something called “coal fly ash” in the kitchen? According to the NRDC, there’s no need. They say, “The key to the safe use of coal ash is encapsulation. Encapsulation is the technology that is used at EPA-regulated hazardous waste landfills to make sure that if the toxic waste gets wet, which it does, it is bound at the molecular level into an insoluble compound that will not allow the toxics elements to leach to contaminate underground water sources or surface waters. This is the same technology used in encapsulating fly ash and FGD sludge in concrete and wallboard. Even if coal ash used in construction is demolished, it still will not leach toxics, because even if pulverized, it is not broken down below the molecular level.”

The vaulted ceiling is made from recycled wood

“When you use reclaimed lumber, you decrease the demand for newly sourced lumber, which helps curb deforestation,” according to Building Moxie. “If harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that reduces landfill waste as well as the use of environmental hazards to manufacture new products.” Plus, the wood is harder since it typically comes from old-growth forests, and if it’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, it can help your project earn LEED points.

Clerestories and transoms windows allow in plenty of natural light, lowering the need for artificial illumination

Plus, natural light has been shown to increase productivity, improve mood, increase energy, decrease stress, and support good health.

Rolling wood screens shade the South facing windows while casting dynamic shadows across the floor during the day

Not only is this a great aesthetic addition, blocking the sun’s rays from entering South facing windows can also reduce solar heat gains by 45-65% and is a technique used in passive design.

Project Name: Levine Residence
Project Type: Addition and remodel to a house
Location: Eagle Rock, CA
Status: Completed 2008
Designer: Jeremy Levine Design


Photo courtesy of Jeremy Levine / CC by 2.0