In A Clear Choice: A briefing on the environmental performance of PVCu vs. wood windows, the Wood Window Alliance has reviewed new evidence to see what’s changed. It concludes that engineered wood products use wood very efficiently and can be manufactured from fast-growing, underused and less expensive tree species.
Available studies show considerable concerns about the impact on the environment of PVCu windows remain, with the main ones being:
• Consumption of fossil fuels: PVC (a plastic) is a major user of fossil fuels
• Human toxicity: PVC is made from Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM), a Class 1 human carcinogen
• Energy and emissions in manufacture: VCM is made from chlorine, the production of which is energy and emissions-intensive
• The toxic legacy of recycling: recycled PVCu provides one of the main pathways for toxic legacy chemicals, such as cadmium and lead-based stabilisers, into new PVCu products.
These concerns have led many organisations, like the Cradle-to-Cradle Product Innovation Institute and Apple, to ban PVC or place it on a precautionary list.
WWF is encouraging specifiers and buyers of windows to choose wood that has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This guarantees the wood has been sourced from a well-managed forest or other controlled wood source, and ensures that the timber is legal and not from a controversial source.
See the full report here