About the Environmental Stewardship Program

ESP Header

Homeowners today are looking for products that fit in with their healthy home lifestyles. They want to know they are working with organizations that use environmentally responsible processes and green practices. That’s why more and more homeowners and builders are looking for the KCMA ESP Seal.

According to a recent study conducted by Hanley-Wood, sustainability is cited as one of the top five reasons people choose a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. For those homeowners seeking kitchen and bathroom cabinets manufactured with more environmentally responsible and sustainable processes, the KCMA Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) certification can help guide them to the right sources. Manufacturer certification is awarded annually based on compliance in five categories: air quality & pollution prevention, resource sustainability, waste minimization, environmental stewardship and community relations. This is the only environmental certification program that specifically focuses on kitchen and bath cabinets.

Introduced in 2006, KCMA developed the ESP to encourage practices that benefit the environment and communities served by cabinet manufacturers. The ESP goes beyond other environmental programs by taking a holistic approach to certification, holding the industry to high standards for their products, forest sustainability and manufacturing processes. The voluntary certification program provides a tangible way for cabinet manufacturers to demonstrate their commitment to environmental responsibility and sustainability.


The certification criteria is reviewed on an annual basis by KCMA’s Environmental Stewardship Committee and the Board of Directors. It has been strengthened six times since the program began in 2006.

In order to earn ESP Certification, manufacturers must earn a minimum of 70 points.  Examples of provisions contained in the ESP standard are:

  • Manufacturers must demonstrate their commitment to protect the environment as evidenced by a written policy statement
  • The use of CARB ATCM / TSCA Title VI compliant low-formaldehyde editing panel products is mandatory and should constitute 100% of all particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF) and plywood used in the cabinets. These products also must be certified by a CARB / TSCA Title VI approved third-party certifier to meet low formaldehyde emission standards
  • 80% of particleboard and MDF used in the cabinets comply with either the CPA ECC 4 or Benchmark CWSS environmental standard.
  • Chain of Custody (COC) Certification of the manufacturer through a recognized sustainable forestry program
  • Hardwoods, softwoods and plywood purchased should be certified through a recognized sustainable forestry program
  • A documented energy conservation program is in place
  • A written Environmental Management System is in place
  • An active recycling program for processing waste is in place
  • All federal, state and local environmental requirements are observed and the manufacturer agrees to report to KCMA any violation
  • The manufacturer demonstrates community involvement and leadership through service or charitable organizations



What are the values embedded in ESP certification?

ESP certification reflects the following beliefs:

  • Forests not only provide outstanding environmental benefits, but also provide an array of renewable wood products and derivatives
  • We encourage the continued and expanded use of forest products
  • We are committed to promoting conservation and the responsible use of our natural resources
  • We support and encourage responsible forest management practices that promote sustainability and result in long-term economic and environmental benefits
  • We are committed to educating our members and customers in the global wood products community about environmental and forestry issues

What are the benefits of ESP participation?

In addition to helping ensure the future of both the environment and the cabinet manufacturing industry, ESP certified manufacturers enjoy the following benefits:

  • The status and prestige of participating in a program setting new standards in sustainability.  The ESP program gained further credibility by its reference in the ANSI-approved ICC 700 National Green Building Standards, the benchmark in green building standards
  • Recognition on the KCMA website
  • Technical advice and assistance from KCMA staff to help keep companies in compliance, or in case of failure, assist in returning companies to compliance
  • Use of the ESP seal for display on cabinets as well as in advertising and promotional literature. The ESP program is periodically audited by ANSI for program compliance

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