Plastic Not So Fantastic
Why property developer Alex Shephard chose timber windows and doors over uPVC for the renovation of his family home?
Having worked as a property developer for many years, Alex was no stranger to the idea of taking on a renovation project. When the time came to take on his very own renovation he immediately saw potential in a 4 bedroom house situated in Haywards Heath, in the historic county of Sussex. Although in a good state of repair, this 1930’s home was really in need of a complete renovation and Alex and his wife set about designing a refurbishment which would be sensitive to original features, yet result in a modernised family home. Taking on this large scale renovation with a young family in tow has proved to be an exciting, yet daunting process and one which presented likely challenges; one of which being what material would be used in the replacement of the existing windows.
“The existing windows were much in need of replacing and one of my very first considerations of the renovation was which material would I choose. Having considered my options and done plenty research into the various material choices, my natural preference was, of course, timber but having a budget to consider I was tempted by the saving that having uPVC may offer. Although I was well aware of the benefits that timber would offer, cost was, as is usually the case, an important consideration in any renovation project.
Having made this decision, I was content that this was the right choice and I set about planning the finer details such as the window design and how this would tie in with the existing building. I started to consider how plastic would look against the buildings timber cladding which raised concerns but it wasn’t until I sat down one evening with my two boys to watch an episode of Blue Planet 2 that this decision was completely turned on its head.”
A Material Conscience
“Although I was all too aware of the media coverage showing the extent of plastic pollution and the effect this is having on our oceans and ecosystem as a whole, I did not immediately take this into account in my renovation buying decisions. However, after seeing the bottom of the oceans covered in plastic and being faced with numerous questions from my two boys as to why the beaches were so littered with plastic, I began to look at things differently. Seeing photographs of whales seen to be dying from toxic levels of plastic-related pollution and plastic lids pulled from the stomach of fish, really made me question my material choice. I now choose conscience over cost and have firmly decided to go with timber. I felt this to be a personal choice that we could make that would go some way in helping the environment. To quote Blue Planet: ‘Everyday choices that add up to change.’”
A Natural Choice
“With a whole new outlook I went about looking for timber windows and doors which would, not only showcase the distinct character of the building but would satisfy my conscience that what I was buying was a sustainable choice. After consulting Parker Building Supplies Ltd, Bereco timber flush casement windows and flush french doors were the natural choice. Not only is all timber made from FSC® 100% but Bereco donate £1 for every door to World Land Trust which helps to protect rainforest.
The existing windows to the front of the property featured a Georgian bar design which although suited the style of the property seemed a little busy. In order to replicate this style, yet allow slightly more natural light, we chose a cottage bar design with a 16mm ovolo shaped bar for the front façade with the windows to the rear we kept plain in order to give a modern feel and to maximise views over the garden. When it came to selecting a finish, the options really were endless but Bereco’s Heritage Smoke finish was the perfect contrast to give a modern edge yet complement the external finishes.”
The final Word
After seeing the devastating effect of plastic pollution Alex chose to prioritise conscience over cost when making his buying decision. “Being a property developer, I hope that we can guide our clients to consider the impacts of selecting man made materials and make timber windows their choice of window.”
Every time you choose a timber window over uPVC – 160kg of CO2 is saved.
By choosing Bereco timber windows, Alex saved a total of 3,935kgCO2e when compared with the uPVC equivalent which represents an energy saving equivalent to that of making 1,748 cups of tea.
Every time you choose a Bereco timber window over uPVC another tree is left standing.
Bereco are the only timber window and door company to use only FSC 100% certified timber meaning that by choosing Bereco Alex is helping to prevent deforestation and promote the growth of forests worldwide.
Every time you choose a timber window over uPVC you are preventing the build-up of plastic in landfill.
According to the Scottish Civic Trust, only 3% of Upvc is recycled with 82% going into landfill. Plastics Europe estimate demand for PVC products in Europe to be close to 5 million tonnes per annum, with 28% being used to produce window frames. This would mean annually a total of 1.1 million tonnes of PVC ending up in landfill each year. By choosing Bereco Alex is preventing the build-up of plastics in UK landfill.
Over the course of the life of a timber window, uPVC windows will need to have been replaced a minimum of twice.
PVC windows have an expected lifespan of 25-35 whereas timber windows have an expectancy of more than double at 55-65 years. By choosing Bereco Alex can expect a better long-term value than PVC-u alternatives.