10 Green Kitchen Construction Materials

Green Living Image Gallery You can find eco-friendly options to build the gourmet green kitchen of your dreams. See more green living pictures.

Going green when you're building a home from the ground up is more common than ever these days. But what can you do about the home you already occupy? Lots, it turns out, and you can start with that kitchen remodeling project you're planning.

Remodeling green doesn't have to be scary. You can do it on a small or large scale, depending on how much time, money and effort you want to invest, and you can seek the aid of contractors and how-to guides to get it done. In fact, simply adding real flowers to your kitchen can help make it greener by turning carbon dioxide into oxygen that wouldn't have been there otherwise. And that oxygen adds up over time. But there's the big picture to consider, too: Most investments you make today will pay off tomorrow or down the road. Green renovations can lower your electricity bills and will eventually pay for themselves.

One Canadian couple believed so much in the benefits of a green home that they built their own house with solar panels, rain water reclamation systems, a living roof, earthen floors and air purifiers. Their environmental impact bottoms out every year at zero, and their home earned the prestigious Petal Recognition from the International Living Building Institute, an award very few buildings in the world have earned [source: International Living Building Institute].

You may not be able to save all the world's environmental problems with a few home renovations. But for those willing to pay upfront to slash consumption of natural resources in the future -- and perhaps cut utilities bills in the process -- your first step for greening your kitchen awaits: Install some solar window shutters.