We live in a post-COP26 and net-zero world now. We can debate the merits of the deal that was struck at the very end of the conference and whether it goes far enough. It doesn’t. But in this post-COP26 world, with climate change at the forefront, everything we do within the UK fenestration sector now has to be seen through the prism of climate change.
There are no ifs, no buts. Every action has to be weighed up with the environmental impact in mind. Everything.
A fundamental shift
Whether you like it or not, everything we do in life will now be seen through the prism of climate change. From the food we eat, the media we consume, how we travel, how we make things. Indeed, how we make and install new windows and doors. The situation, nay the planet, demands that of us.
If you kept track of COP26 events, and some of the impassioned and moving speeches from affected people around the world, you should know now that only drastic actions taken by everyone will now suffice if we hope to see our children grow up in a habitable environment. UK fenestration is not exempt from that responsibility.
There has to be a rapid and fundamental shift within our sector to conduct our business in as green a way as possible. We have made some progress which is well documented. Recycling capacity is rising, some PVCu profiles are on the road to being 100% fully recycled. But there is still a huge amount more we have to do. And we have to start doing it now.
The fact of the matter is that every sector, be it fenestration, automotive, tech, food, sport etc, will all be judged and graded by the general public by how climate-friendly their businesses are. The greener they are, the more successful they will be. Generations above me might not pay much attention to this, but mine and the ones following on behind me will. It is younger people, the ones that actually matter, that place climate change high on their list of priorities, and businesses and economies will feel the impacts of this.
We as a sector cannot wait until 2030 or longer before we can shake off the apathy and realise the danger we are in. Actions have to be taken now. Promises have to be turned into effective new policies. Don’t wait until the floodwaters are at your door before acting.
I do fear that because climate change doesn’t immediately impact many of us right now, we play down the impacts we all create on the environment around us. Do I think our industry is trying to correct its course and become better? Yes. Do I think enough of us across the entire supply chain is doing enough right now? No. Far from it. We are not immune in the UK from the effects of climate change.
Climate change focus will change everything
I still don’t think many of us fully understand the impact combatting climate change is going to have on our sector. It really will affect everything.
Sales reps at some point will all drive electric or at least hybrid cars. Electric vans will get better and many fabricators and suppliers will switch to electric vans as soon as is practical. More and more companies will go paperless, or at least use as minimal an amount of paper as possible. Industry media will continue to move more online, reducing carbon footprints. PVCu profiles will edge closer to becoming fully recycled systems, cutting out virgin materials. The same will go for IGU products. The supply chain will continue to be digitised throughout. Everyone will recycle, whether you’re an installer, fabricator or systems company.
Our industry in ten years time is likely to look nothing like it does now. All of the above will happen, without a doubt. Then we’ll look back on this period of time and wonder why we didn’t transition sooner.
It may even be the case that many companies within UK fenestration also sign up to additional schemes outside the sector to help reduce carbon emissions. I know companies like Clayton Glass are already signed up for tree-planting initiatives. Many more will follow in the same footsteps.
There is no time like right now to do more in our industry to become better for the environment. All the tech and ideas already exist. We just need to summon the willpower to act and be better.
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We need to start thinking differently about our products that’s for sure and the suppliers at the top of the chain need to be driving this.
Windows need to be thinner not thicker but maintain or improve on energy efficiency. More recycled content needs to be used, not just in pvc or glass but on hardware too.
Most of what we need to do is possible now, we just need to start doing it but this industry does not like change.
I do agree with you Michael. You look at other sectors and how quickly they are able to accept change and accelerate towards it. The tech world is a good example. Even cars. As you say, the technology to do what we need to do is already out there, we just need to get on and do it!
That’s a great point on hardware Michael. The level of packaging we consume on handles & other hardware is ridiculous and unnecessary. I’ve raised this point on several occasions to our suppliers in the last year; sadly, I can’t see it rising up their agenda any time soon. Fabricators need to shout louder at Distributors and demand change.