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BPF slams attack on PVC-U windows

By Hamish Champ
Posted 3 May 2012

The British Plastics Federation (BPF) has labelled as ‘inaccurate’ an article in the Financial Times which suggests PVC-U windows are damaging the planet.

Writing in the FT, Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said PVC-U windows caused “serious damage” to the cultural value of historic town and village centres.

He wrote that an estate agent survey in 2009 found house prices could be depressed by the installation of PVC-U windows and doors, some of which had been fitted illegally.

“Research has now shown that the energy savings generated by PVC-U windows will never cover their capital cost because most have a life of less than 20 years,” Thurley further claimed.

The BPF hit back, arguing that organisations such as the Building Research Establishment had put the lifetime figure at a minimum of 35 years.

Nor was any credit given to PVC-U window’s energy efficient characteristics, the trade body said.

Describing the article as “misleading”, the BPF said it had written to both Thurley and the FT to state the material’s case.

In a statement the BPF said: “The unfortunate article alleged that most PVC-U windows had a life expectancy of only 20 years and that consumers installing PVC-U windows were ‘damaging the planet’.

“To permeate the text with more misinformation, the article says that PVC-U windows are ‘instantly recognisable because they cannot imitate historic mouldings, glazing bars and proportions’.

“The BPF has written to Dr Thurley pointing out the inaccuracies of his article, with details including case studies of successfully installed PVC-U windows where heritage designs were required,” it concluded.

Comment on this article.


How long does an un-painted wooden window or door frame last and how often is it recommended that a wooden frame needs to be painted to prevent it rotting? What is the environmental impact of the paint that needs to be used to enable wooden window & door frames to last as long as UPVC and what is the environmental impact of felling trees to make wooden frames in the first instance? I dare say none of these important questions were considered by English Heritage when making the crass conclusion that they were ‘damaging the planet’. The point on illegally fitted uPVC windows and doors only applies to a few areas which restrict the use for pseudo-aesthetic reasons, but I dare say this could be avoided if English Heritage offered a grant for the difference in cost between uPVC and wooden frames, then agreed to come and paint them at no additional cost every other year. Personally I wouldn't buy a house that couldn't have the wooden windows replaced with the far more energy efficient uPVC types and I a dare say I am not the only person who would avoid such an area, so maybe the lower house prices is less to do with those who have fitted uPVC windows & doors illegally and more to do with the impact of English Heritages crass rules against them, but I dare say this wasn't considered either.

- 03 May 2012 - Chris Wheeler

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