The latest revision of the BRE’s Green Rating guide which assesses the environmental impact of building materials is due any time now and the whole of the window industry is poised with baited breath.
Emotions are running high as the timber, PVC, aluminium, steel and even composite lobbies await the outcome and the impact it will have on their businesses.
There is no doubt that the guide does carry considerable weight with both window specifiers and end users of windows in environmental terms, but I would like to make the plea that it should be viewed only in the context of all the other relevant information which is presented.
Every successful business operates by making an educated choice from all the information and facts made available. From my perspective as a product design and development engineer, I gather information and facts all the time and when I am satisfied with the analysis, I make a choice. As an engineer, that’s what motivates me and I would encourage the rest of the industry to operate in the same way.
Of course, any choice can only be the right one if the facts provided are the right ones and the analysis is accurate and balanced.
The PVC sector, like its competitors, has provided what it sees as accurate facts to the BRE and to the market as a whole and is hoping for a fair rating as a result. REHAU is very confident that its products will come out favourably in the guide and certainly as one of Europe’s leading producers of renewable energy systems such as ground-air heat exchangers, ground source heating and rainwater management systems and a partner in the EU’s Green Building Programme, we definitely want to work with the environmental lobby and not against them.
It is probably fair to say that all of us believes in our own facts and sees the strength in our own argument and the weaknesses of others and probably also questions the priorities and severities of impact within the product assessments.
However, in the past year, both independently and as a member of the British Plastics Federation (BPF), REHAU has worked very hard to present the facts as it sees them as accurately, objectively and professionally as possible.
In the working groups and meetings at the BPF we have responded to many criticisms, myths and scare stories about PVC – particularly from the timber lobby. We have provided educational seminars to the industry, as well as accurate, informative bulletins and articles in the trade magazines and tried to present the facts in a disciplined and unemotional way so as to make educated choice possible.
Certainly, we are now starting to see the benefits of that. We have been able to open doors to PVC recently which used to be closed because of fear or misconception about the material. We have also begun to have discussions with specifiers and certain local authorities which previously would have been impossible because they had either been misinformed about PVC or had made wrong assumptions about its impact.
REHAU and the PVC lobby as a whole know that the material can and will help towards reducing the carbon footprint of buildings, not just because of its recycleability or whole life costings but also because of its thermal performance, repairability, weather resistance and low maintenance requirements. Whether this is going to be reflected or not in the new ratings we will now just have to wait and see.
One thing remains clear – everyone has a choice about which building materials to use and how to gather the information to make their choice. The BPF and REHAU websites (at www.bpf.co.uk and www.rehau.co.uk) contain all the relevant facts and we are very keen to share them.
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