The Wood Window Alliance has recently launched their ‘Plastic Promises and Fake Facts’ campaign which exposes the truth about some of the misleading claims made by PVC-u window companies.
It is now almost a generation since wood lost its prominence in the UK windows market to PVC-u, and 10 years since the Wood Window Alliance was formed to raise standards and fight back. Those years have seen a transformation in the timber window market, from low cost, site-glazed frames to fully factory-finished engineered timber windows.
Now there’s a new challenge: from what the PVC-u industry describes as a ‘new generation’ product – a PVC-u product that mimics the construction, detailing and finish of a timber window. These new windows are positioned between standard PVC-u and timber. They will earn higher margins and give PVC-u entry into the lucrative period homes sector.
The Wood Window Alliance believe these fake wood windows are bad for the planet’s health, bad for people’s health and bad for their houses.
They have looked at the marketing claims made by the PVC-u companies in support of these timber lookalike windows and believe many are misleading. While continuing to make the positive case for wood windows, The Wood Window Alliance are determined to do everything they can to expose these claims for what they are.
- Fake wood windows are bad for the planet’s health
PVC (a plastic) is a major user of fossil fuels – a non-renewable resource. According to the British Plastics Federation, plastics production uses 4% of global oil production annually
Chlorine, a major constituent of PVC, is energy and emissions-intensive. 8.06 million tonnes of chlorine – roughly a third of Europe’s total chlorine production – was used to manufacture PVC in Europe alone in 2013. The UK’s main chlorine plant in Runcorn has an overall energy consumption of over 250MW, roughly equivalent to the energy used by the city of Liverpool.
According to Waste Management World, in 2013 only some 15% of old PVC-u windows were recycled in the UK. But recycled PVC-u is a major pathway for hazardous legacy materials, such as mercury, cadmium and lead, into new PVC-u products.
- Fake wood windows are bad for people’s health
PVC is made from Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), a Class 1 human carcinogen.
Many companies and organisations have placed PVC on a banned or precautionary list, including for example, the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Institute, the US Green Building Council, Perkins+Will architects, Google, Nike, Volvo and Apple.
- Fake wood windows are bad for their property’s health
They won’t last as long as timber frames
They cannot be maintained, repaired or redecorated.
- A Clear Choice. An update of the WWF’s 2005 report ‘Window of opportunity. The environmental benefits of specifying timber frames’
- uPVC windows through the life cycle, The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, February 2017
- A Cradle to Cradle feasibility study on wooden window frames, SGS Search 2017
- Whole Life Analysis of timber, modified timber and aluminium-clad timber windows, Heriot Watt University, 2013
- ‘Fake Facts’ infographics