Eurocell Explains FAQ's About Green Issues

17 September 2008

Here Eurocell Plc looks at how the BRE Green Guide to Specification has raised awareness of the benefits of PVC-U.

What affect will the BRE Green Guide ‘A’ rating for PVC-u have on fabricators? The Green Guide to Specification provides information for architects, designers and their clients on the relative environmental impacts of over 1200 building specifications across all main building elements and types. Materials selection for the CSH and BREEAM assessment method is informed by the Green Guide to Specification. In effect, the Guide recommends the selection of environmentally sustainable materials and specifications and increasing numbers of customers use it as the definitive information source on the subject.

What are BREEAM and CSH?
BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the leading environmental assessment method for non-residential buildings (offices, retail and industrial, etc), whilst the CSH (Code for Sustainable Homes) covers new build residential. In the scenario where one of your customers, a specifier, wishes to achieve a good performance rating in the CSH or BREEAM they would refer to the Green Guide. By referring to the Guide, the specifier will immediately see that PVC-u windows have been awarded an A and A+ rating for environmental performance in domestic and commercial buildings respectively. The fact that CSH and BREEAM assessments are informed by the Green Guide means they may be more likely to specify PVC-u windows.

Why do buildings need to meet CSH and BREEAM environmental targets?
Buildings emit around a third of all carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere. Designing more efficient buildings that need less energy to heat them and therefore have lower carbon dioxide emissions, means that it will create greener buildings. With over 20 per cent of heat lost through a window these elements of the building are vital to creating more sustainable developments.

What affect will it have on my business?
The Green Guide ‘A’ ratings for PVC-u windows should mean even more architects and developers will choose PVC-u window frame materials, for both their residential properties that have to achieve CSH as well as non-residential properties that have to achieve BREEAM targets.

As increasing number of buildings are tested by these environmental assessment methods, the Green Guide will become an essential tool for specifiers, developers and clients.

Why did BRE award an ‘A’ rating to PVC-U?
For a long time, PVC-u has been highly regarded for its durability and low maintenance. When used in windows and doors, PVC-u is one of the most rigid polymers at normal ambient temperatures and shows little deterioration after many years of service. However, BRE awarded an ‘A’ rating to PVC-u principally because of the material’s full life cycle performance as demonstrated by life cycle assessment information provided by industry on product manufacture and service life.

How is PVC-u recycled?
One of the characteristics of PVC-u is that it is possible to recycle on a large scale. It can be ground into pellets which can then be re-heated and moulded into new products – up to seven times. There are now products on the market that are made from 100 per cent recycled PVC-u and the Eurocell cavity closer is an excellent example of this.

What about the future?
The PVC-u industry continues to invest large amounts of resource into improving recycling activities. For many, the start point is always going to be the waste material generated during the manufacturing process. There is also much development work going into the recycling of the frames when they are replaced on site.

There is little doubt that the BRE awarding PVC-u an ‘A’ rating for sustainability has been a major breakthrough for the industry. Sustainability is already a major consideration for local authorities and, since the introduction of more stringent environmental legislation, with housebuilder and developers. Backed up by consumer pressure to buy all things ‘green’, PVC-u continues to a compelling choice in the market.

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