Platforms Still Relevant.
I note with interest articles by Roy Frost on "Pretty Windows" and more recently from Dan Gill of R9. As someone who has been around PVC-U window & door system R&D for many years, I have long been an admirer of Dan's work and eye for detail, indeed I was of one his first customers in a previous life.
The entrepreneurial intention of both articles is in keeping with our industry's history in finding new and evolving methods to push purchaser’s buttons by making decisions on beauty and/or fashion.
I'm no salesperson - but after 30 years in our industry - I do understand the need to give the purchaser what they want. However, there is more to fenestration innovation than fashion: beauty goes beyond simply what you see.
Brand new windows and doors are a major purchasing decision; most of us only do it once or twice in our lifetime. They are not fast moving, short-term consumer goods like mobile phones in shiny packaging. How many of us would purchase a car without knowing the full spec and what is under the bonnet?
Whether this is uppermost in the purchaser's post-recession, decision-making process right now is a discussion for another day.
Today's 70mm PVC-U window systems bring to the 'user' (not everyone owns their own property, or lives in a stone-built 'chocolate box' cottage) many, economic, social and environmental benefits as Dan mentioned such as energy efficiency, security and weather performance. However, what is not mentioned is longevity and durability. The PVC-U products which are installed in buildings now will be there for many years to come. They will probably perform just as well for the next generation and beyond but at some point will become a legacy for a future generation once either the window or the building is no longer cost effective or can't be renovated or repaired.
PVC-U has huge benefits as a material for windows because of its durability and cost effectiveness in relation to alternative materials, however the raw or virgin material is still derived from fossil feedstocks. Resources and materials are finite. It is reported that globally we are currently consuming natural resources of 1.6 Earths to support the current population. Estimates say that this will rise to 2 Earths by 2050 as global population increases.
As an industry. we have worked very hard at recycling, collection and sorting schemes and recycling numbers are impressive, increasing year on year, but we still have far to go on our ecological journey.
Planners and purchasers can specify/buy what they want, but selling on fashion and beauty should not be the only method. +90mm systems with many chambers are all well and good but they are consuming approximately 30% more raw materials without the equivalent improvements in performance.
Longevity and durability are already high on the agenda with operation and maintenance schedules and manuals required for NHBC, CE Marking and Building Information Modelling (BIM). Designing windows that will last longer and can easily be maintained or upgraded and use less or smart materials is not 'pretty' but at VEKA, we as systems designers have a history, but also feel a sense of responsibility for designing products that consume less and are recyclable, that minimise legacy for consumers, users, the industry and the planet. VEKA was the first systems company in the UK and mainland Europe to invest in recycling plants to process and recycle post-consumer PVC-U windows.
Designing by the 'modular/platform principle', or 'systems thinking' makes a window much easier to dismantle, separate and recycle at the end of its useful life. A decision which was uppermost in our thinking when we re-designed our new Matrix 70 Infinity. A window that can contain up to 80% post-consumer recycled PVC-U, while still being stylish, modern, thermally efficient, secure, weather tight and durable. M70 Infinity is VEKA's 2nd generation recycled platform system. Does it give all the ecological answers? Probably not, we are on an evolving journey, but for the reasons set out in this letter, platform systems and modular thinking are very relevant to the longevity of our industry.
For just the facts about Matrix 70 Infinity, come and visit us at The Fit Show stand No. 150
The VEKA UK Group