Diary Of An Eco-Builder

If you put effort into a stylish eco-kitchen, it's much easier for an eco-house to follow
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The kitchen for Tree House began life this week in a Brixton workshop, where eco-designer Stephen Edwards (www.ecointeriors-uk.com) is building cabinets from beech and birch ply, all supplied with FSC certification to ensure sustainable management of the forests where the timber was felled (www.fsc-uk.org).

For an equally robust work surface, we have specified Kirkstone slate from Cumbria, a beautiful, durable material with low energy and environmental costs (www.kirkstone.com).

Lots of energy gets used in kitchens, so kitchen appliances have long been the focus of energy efficiency campaigns. The familiar A to G labels have been effective in driving improvements in design, so there are now plenty of A-rated models on the market. For the best performance, look for an A+ rating or the energy efficiency logo (see www.est.org.uk or phone 0845 727 7200). Our AEG-Electrolux appliances will be quiet and reliable as well as energy and water efficient (www.aeg-electrolux.co.uk).

To radically reduce the environmental impacts of your kitchen, you have to pay as much attention to the resources that flow through it as you do to its fabric and technology.

One of our kitchen design priorities is to treat the resources leaving it with as much respect as the resources entering it. By designating plenty of cupboard space for recycle bins, we will be able to separate organics, plastics, glass and metals. As a lot of kitchen waste is organic, the compost heap in our front garden is an integral part of the design.

To reduce the transport energy and packaging impacts of what comes into the kitchen, we grow fruit and vegetables in a local allotment, get a weekly organic box delivery and avoid buying imported food that can be produced in Britain. At the centre of our kitchen a wall of shallow shelves will display row upon row of glass jars containing ingredients that we can buy in bulk or from market stalls, where paper bags replace plastic wrap. By using Bodum jars with sustainably sourced wooden lids (www.bodum.com), this glittering and colourful expression of culinary possibility is also designed to keep us cooking and away from the temptations of take-aways and their little mountains of waste.

Our great sycamore obtains raw ingredients from its immediate environment, creates food efficiently with renewable energy, and ensures on-going value for its waste products as nutrition for the insect life beneath it.

Our culinary ambitions may extend beyond maple syrup (sycamores are maples) but on every other count our holistic eco-kitchen will be struggling to match this towering example of sustainable design.