by Jooyoung Jang and Yoon Sung Yang
A green kitchen, usually referred to as a Design for the Environment (DfE), is a practice that integrates environmental considerations into the product and process engineering procedures while also considering the entire product life cycle. Specifically, a green kitchen reduces waste that negatively impacts the environment by optimizing resources and imitating the cycles of nature.
Historically, many cultures have located messy, smoky cooking areas away from the main living quarters, usually placing the kitchen in an outbuilding, a basement, or a separate wing cordoned off by a heavy door. In this way, family members were protected from fumes, greasy vapors, and fire hazards.
Kitchen development took huge step during industrialization, with the production of the first iron stove. In 1825, the first gas stove was developed. The urbanization that occurred in the second half of the 19th century induced other significant changes in the home as well, including water pipes, sewers to deal with the waste water, and gas pipes for heating and cooking.
After the turn of the 20th century, stable electricity stove replaced the gas stove, especially in the 1930s. In the United States in the 1940s, it became common to equip kitchens with electrified kitchen appliances, such as blenders, toasters, and eventually microwave ovens. After the end of World War II, Western Europeans incorporated newly developed high-tech consumer goods into their kitchens, which were being designed to accommodate new appliances such as refrigerators and electric/gas cookers.
The technological advances of the recent past have resulted in unprecedented challenges today. The carbon level in the atmosphere took its largest jump, and the issues of climate change, diminishing resources and biodiversity, waste, allergies and stress, and water scarcity have come to light in recent years, increasingly affecting our lives.
As a result of such challenges, people have realized the importance of creating an eco-friendly environment. Unique concepts and the related vocabulary have also been emerging to describe concepts related to sustainability and global environmental changes. One such concept is the kitchen eco-system in homes. This concept supports the strategy of developing cutting-edge products that are already within technological reach, offer high energy efficiency, and reduce the impact on the environment thanks to the use of green materials and the reuse and recycling of materials. Maximizing energy-efficiency in particular helps consumers reduce waste and achieve savings of up to 70 percent on energy bills. Today consumers look for the best possible Energy Star Rating (an international standard for energy-efficient consumer products based on energy efficiency, the prohibition of toxic substances, recycled products and packaging, etc.). Homeowners also consider adding skylights and windows that take advantage of natural sunlight to their kitchens.
In addition to these scholarly approaches, which might seem difficult for people to apply to their everyday lives, there are many other practical ways of participating in green kitchen activities.
The greediest consumer of home energy is the refrigerator, which should never be enclosed within unvented cabinets or placed beside the stove or other hot appliances as the heat will make the compressor work harder. An empty freezer also has difficulty maintaining cold temperatures; it should be kept at least two-thirds filled. In addition, a refrigerator with a freezer compartment on the bottom uses less energy than a side-by-side model while providing easy reach to the most frequently used food. Glassware should also be used in the refrigerator as glass is not only more long lasting than plastic or foil, but also provides an insulating barrier that keeps food and beverages colder. Refrigerator coils should be cleaned regularly. Finally, refrigerators with glass doors offer the ability to see the contents without having to open the doors and thereby causing energy loss.
In most cases, gas is more energy efficient than electricity, but the energy savings of cooking with gas, which emits high levels of nitrogen dioxide, might not be worth the potential health risks. In terms of air purity, electricity is a better option. For energy-efficient electric cooking, a convection oven is best; a fan circulates air inside the oven for more even distribution and reduced cooking time.
Induction cooktops are faster and more efficient than gas. As they use electromagnetic energy to heat magnetic material in the cookware, these cooking surfaces remain cool. There is no heat loss and less chance of accidental burns.
For maximum efficiency, the dishwasher should include a built-in booster heater for sanitation during the rinse cycle. In addition, dishwashers with two separate drawers, including one for smaller loads, saves both energy and water use. Running the dishwasher only when it is full and avoiding pre-rinsing dishes, which most modern dishwashers can handle because they are powerful enough that they can remove food residue without pre-rinsing, also maximize energy efficiency.
In terms of technology, kitchen appliances are becoming increasingly creative and intelligent, creating a truly integrated network that provides solutions that optimize energy and resources. Hidden behind the success are continuous efforts as well as countless failures. Many designers, engineers, and others have worked together to develop the green concept and lead the kitchen of future.
WHIRLPOOL’S GREEN KITCHEN
Incorporating everything needed from a kitchen as well as integrating it all into a smart, efficient system promises to reduce energy, water, and heat waste significantly to the tune of increased energy efficiency of up to 70%. This green kitchen diverts 60% of the water and heat generated from appliances to fuel other functions and appliances, rather than just tossing aside such energy. For example, the heat produced in the compressor coils from running the refrigerator—the one appliance that cycles on and off, 24 hours a day—is used to heat water for the dishwasher, rather than just allowing the heat to waft out into the kitchen. This kitchen also uses a drawer refrigerator that saves energy by preventing cold air from slipping out every time the door is opened.
The Ekokook kitchen includes individual areas for each activity in the kitchen, but combines all of them into one cohesive, streamlined unit. On one side, a steam oven is topped by a range unit with a gas burner, hot plate, and wok burner (because everybody really wishes they had a wok burner). Food storage is provided for bulk items, dry goods, fruits, and vegetables, and refrigerator drawers are provided for the cold stuff. The hanging containers above hold various foods, condiments, cookbooks, and even a place to grown veggies hydroponically.
The other side of the unit contains the power house of the kitchen: three separate micro plants for processing. The first is the unit that separates and stores waste, like paper, glass, metals, and plastic. In the middle is the water use, collection, and recycling micro plant, which includes the sink, water filter, and a two-tier drawer dishwasher. Last is the organic waste micro plant, which consists of a worm composter and compost collector. Each of these units works hand in hand with each other, offering up waste energy or water to help other processes rather than sending it down the drain.
Technological development has enabled us to mimic nature’s processes. Now, all that is lacking is a collective change in consciousness to take us into a Biological Age, where byproducts are no longer waste, but rather fuel for other systems.
– Craven, Jackie. The Healthy Home: Beautiful Interiors That Enhance the Environment and Your Well-being. Gloucester, MA: Rockport, 2003. Print.
– Kibert, Charles J. Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print.
– Kitchen Design for the Future: Whirlpool’s Green Kitchen Concept.
– Ekokook – Green Kitchen of the Future.
– 7 Smart and Easy Tips to Green Your Kitchen.
– Green And Sustainable Is What It’s All About In Today’s Kitchen Remodeling Ideas.
– About Green Kitchen