Over the last week or so, the anti-PVC brigade and the debate they bring has reared it’s head again. I was reading the latest comment from John Cowie on the Windows Active website and totally agreed with everything he had to say. On the website, John was commenting on the PVC vs quilted curtain debate. The council in question was telling it’s residents that it couldn’t replace their windows with energy-efficient PVC ones, they had to use timber, which was going to be more expensive and something that the residents could not afford. So, what was the council’s alternative? Quilted curtains. I don’t think the residents were jumping up and down about that proposal.
Sounds stupid doesn’t it? “Oh, you need new windows, but you’re not allowed what you want. You have to have these expensive timber ones because you’re in a conservation area and if you can’t afford it you’ll just have to put heavy curtains up instead!”
One of John’s echoed one of my long standing frustrations: In an age and era of increased innovation in the fenestration sector it is staggering to think that a council is so narrow minded in its requirements for choice of frame material.
Over the last few years, our sector has ploughed millions upon millions into research and development to come up with fantastic new products. There are some truly great timber-alternative windows out there with some awesome wood grain textures and detailing, as well as traditional hardware and mock-wood features which mimic brilliantly the old wooden variants. Yet despite the leaps and bounds our manufacturers have made to make PVC the best of both worlds, organizations like English Heritage, National Trust and many councils stubbornly just refuse to acknowledge the existence of such products. Or at least it looks that way.
It is a constant battle for PVC companies to prove that their products not only provide the most energy efficient options, but that the new range of timber-alternative products would also be sympathetic to the character of the buildings. Higher authorities seem to care little about this sort of issue, so as always it is down to us to do something about it. Personally, my idea would be to create an industry-wide and nation-wide education campaign aimed specifically at the heritage organizations and councils, educating them about the new advancements in our technology and aesthetics. Use case studies of old buildings that have used various types of double glazing to their advantage and show off how the character has been kept. It is only by hitting those opposed hard in the face, repeatedly with the evidence and proof that our industry can do great things for this country’s treasured heritage buildings and listed housing stock.
Either way, this PVC and double glazing bashing has to stop from the heritage groups. People can see right through it and one day they’r going to go a step too far and our industry will be forced to act more forcefully in the future. Ideally, our sectors need to be working together for the greater good of our old buildings, because at the minute it’s the buildings themselves that are suffering.