The new ecofriendly profile
Comment on PVC Forum (8th July 2010)
We want to send some clarifications on the part regarding PVC frames in which many inaccuracies are read.
First of all, the strength of the PVC frame is undoubtedly its high performance as thermal and acoustic insulation. The values of the thermal transmittance nowadays decrease under 1 W/m2K guaranteeing the designer the respect, with wide margin, of what the law of energy saving requests and the users the housing comfort in winter as well as in summer.
The PVC frame doesn’t require any maintenances, only the usual cleaning, it does not build-up condense and it is not attacked by atmospheric agents. The exellent performances are granteed for long years subject to prior correct installation.
Through a voluntary agreement named Vinyl 2010 (www.vinyl2010.org), the European PVC industry has removed the inner components you underlined: cadmium, lead, dioxin. It has also activated an efficient circuit of collection and recycle of thousands tons of PVC. PVC is actually an absolutely recyclable material and truly recyled. The production scraps as well as the post-use frames are recovered in order to produce goods using in many industrial fields.
The low environmental impact of the polymer during its entire life cycle is proved by LCA studies carried on by some different European bodies such as PVC Forum Italy (www.pvcforum.it) that places these studies at disposal of anyone would consult them.
In 2007 PVC windows got the higher evaluation of “ecologically interesting” by Eco-davis, a Swiss organization consisting of public and private bodies that provides an internationally leader environmental classification of building materials. This is an important merit that is added to the highest scores “A+” for the commercial buildings and “A” for the industial ones obtained by the PVC frames in the “Green Guide to Specification” of Building Research Establischment (BRE), a worldwide well-known English company for environmental evaluation.
PVC Forum Italy is willing to offer further clarifications and thecnical specifications on this subject.
THE NEW ECOFRIENDLY PROFILE
After a certain amount of resistance and hesitation, the entire professional field is now prepared for a new challenge: sustainable constructions through efficient planning with zero environmental impact.
In the market for window and doorframes, a multitude of competing statements proclaim the environmental gifts of various materials, spreading purposely vague information so as to mislead the customer.
One of the worst options to construct windows is without doubt polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, which poorly satisfies the needs for quality and recyclability. Consequently Italy, and Europe, has tried to regulate its use due to the dangerous toxic emissions that it gives off during processing and disposal, not to mention the cancerogenous sub-products in the case of accidental fire. Its internal components are under inquest: dioxin, phthalate, lead and cadmium. Even at low concentrations, the latter tends to build up in organisms and ecosystems, causing irreparable damage to man and the environment.
To demonstrate the low ecofriendliness of PVC, are the enormous problems in its disposal and the fact it is impossible to recycle, which means that the problem is brutally resolved by leaving it in the dumps, where it tends to decay and give off the extremely harmful additives that it is made of.
Along with the high environmental impact, there are also the problems with its poor performance: in fact it needs complex maintenance work due to wear over time, and therefore does not offer the consumer any sort of guarantee.
Then we should consider wood, the leading protagonist in the highly publicised ecofriendly architecture, which, however, when submitted to a closer examination, is not as ecofriendly as it seems. The combustion products from wood considerably pollute the atmosphere, which is demonstrated by the recent worsening of the limitations on its emissions. But that is not all: a more serious consequence from the massive use of wood in building is deforestation, the cause of increasingly irregular rainfalls and a progressive loss of biodiversity. Excessive tree felling also increases the risk of landslides and floods, not to speak of the sudden climatic changes, which are a very sad threat for farming in particular. Among the most serious damage caused by deforestation we must not forget the greenhouse effect, desertification of dry lands and the banal yet vital removal of the resources for the native populations.
In the field of windows and doors, a material that is as much well – known as impressive, from the ecological point of view, is undoubtedly the aluminum. It is a oar that needs a considerable use of energy in transformation from bauxite, the material from which the aluminum is extracted, into the pure aluminum.
Moreover, as emerged from some researches, in the realization of the frames, aluminum is mixed with plastic materials for a better insulation, but in this way it takes all the disadvantages that characterize the PVC .
While the environmental catastrophe proceeds by blows with floods and earthquakes, an appropriate use of steel is the opportunity to create a new architectural language that marries the purely aesthetic and functional parameters with ecofriendliness, because it is 100% recyclable and ecological. There are numerous fields where steel can be used, thanks to its corrosion resistance it does not give off any pollutants and no radiation, and is totally harmless for the environment.
A material without limitations in terms of aesthetics and composition, ideal anywhere that high level safety and ease of maintenance are required, continuing with renewed vigour to contribute to the wellbeing of our society even in this era of technical and economic uncertainty. By ecofriendliness we do not mean that it just protects the natural resources and ecosystem, but it improves the economics of the construction throughout its entire life, from construction, through maintenance and finally in recycling.
A combination of performances that demonstrate how planning in steel means undertaking an ecofriendly enterprise, occupying three-dimensional space without conditioning the environment.
Comment of “Acciaio Arte Architettura” editing (16th July 2010)
We are glad to know about this voluntary agreement named Vinyl 2010 stipulated in order to remove the toxic components we have underlined.
We read in your blog, www.pvcforum.it, that it is however an European agreement and we ask you, just for information, if even the rest of the world undertakes this path to sustainability. Regarding the lead, we have also noticed that a low percentage of frames producers has endorsed this agreement.
Surely there are good and well-known plastic materials, such as nylon, rayon, teflon, silicone, vulcolan and polyurethan, therefore a question about the reason why these materials are not used in the frames field spontaneously arises.
The environmental impact, a very important topic, does not make us forgot however that the essetial requirement of a frame is its mechanical strength because it is constantly exposed to stress, that sometimes is very violent. We have only to think about those public places in which the users usually do not take particular attention. For a long time now, profiles and PVC frames producers are addressing to the steel world. The cases of PVC frames that use a steel skeleton in order to face, we think, dilation and structural weakness are more and more frequent.
So, we wonder how can the corner, the more stress point of the PVC frame, support not only window and frame weight, but also the weight of the internal thermal break steel skeleton. Did not we say that PVC is insulating by nature? There is a set of questions asked for giving informations about the frames world. If these topics are been solved, we will be very glad to know about the progress of this material.
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