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ESP certification for cabinets

marc.kleinmann | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hi all;
Just came across and some cabinet manufacturers that advertise ESP certification through KCMA’s ESP program. Just wondering how valid this program is?

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  1. Riversong | | #1

    Like most such certification programs, it's a step in the right direction but with a threshold that allows programmatic commitments and partial responsibility a passing grade.

    All of their quantitative standards are for 75% compliance, and meeting local and state operating permit limits for air pollution is considered sufficient.

    Given that nearly 40% of KCMA's member companies passed the "green" test, it's evident that the bar is set far too low.

  2. Riversong | | #2

    I double-checked the ESP manufacturer certification list and noticed that one of the most responsible companies, Young Manufacturing of Bow NH, is not listed even though they won the 2008 Green Log Award for cabinets from Environmental News Service.

    A small company like Young, committed since its inception to responsible practices and which is one of only a handful of US manufacturers that produce unfinished FSC-certified cabinets, probably cannot afford the ESP "certification".

    Young's high-quality, solid-wood pine and poplar cabinets are the only ones I've used for the last 20 years.

  3. marc.kleinmann | | #3

    Considering all this information would you consider this "greenwashing" or more of a program in it's infancy?

  4. Riversong | | #4

    I would consider it greenwashing, which doesn't mean that some of the standards aren't helpful. But most of what passes for "green" today is hype and marketing.

    A "Green" marketing report on North American consumer goods,, found that the number of products labeled "green" tripled between 2006 and 2008, though 98% of those products committed at least one of the "seven sins of greenwashing":

    Sin of the Hidden Trade-off
    Sin of No Proof
    Sin of Vagueness
    Sin of Worshiping False Labels
    Sin of Irrelevance
    Sin of Lesser of Two Evils
    Sin of Fibbing

  5. pderas | | #5

    One large cabinet manufacturer that I have used for years, first as a dealer and then specifying as an independent designer (I no longer sell product), is Crystal Cabinet Works out of Princeton, MN.

    Crystal has been doing green since long before it was fashionable.

    They started their program to improve the air quality in their immediate area, and expanded it to ensure the health and safety of their workers. They forced their suppliers to develop and invent water-based, low-VOC finishes and formaldehyde-free substrates. Later they began using recycled and rapidly renewing materials like bamboo and Lyptus in a new product line called GreenQuest.

    Since I am in California and they are in Minnesota, the transportation issue has become almost insurmountable. Thankfully we now have local cabinetmakers who have gone green in a big way, but Crystal led the way. Small cabinetmakers don't have the volume to institute change like the big guys.

    If you are closer to Minnesota, you should give them a try. They deserve the business for their trailblazing efforts.

  6. marc.kleinmann | | #6

    Are there any other certification programs that certify cabinetry?

  7. pderas | | #7

    I know of no other cabinet certification program than KCMA's.

    KCMA (the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer's Association) has always been the lowest common denominator for cabinetry certifications, green or otherwise.

    It doesn't mean much in the industry, except for the companies that make lower quality cabinets and those who buy them.

    For the best in green cabinetry, with real survivability, you really need to look at a more expensive product than the lowest common denominator.

    There is nothing green about a cabinet that won't survive five years of use in a kitchen, no matter what it's made of.

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