Keeping residents and the planet happy

I’ve been following reports about the controversial new Energy Efficiency Directive with interest.

Passed on 4 October 2012, this EU law calls on all member states to reduce energy consumption by 2020. Expect new and binding energy targets for social housing and many other sectors.

We can’t predict the full implications of the directive yet, but know we must improve the carbon footprint of our older buildings and that our social housing stock will be key.

Window pains
In the windows industry we already know a good deal about energy saving. It’s something of an occupational hazard.

Most of our homes were built when energy efficiency was not a major political concern and consume high levels of energy.

An estimated 44% of all energy consumed in the EU is used in buildings, and of the known energy loss from any property, a fifth can be lost through windows.

With existing stock only replaced at a rate of 1% per year, upgrades become essential.

Our sector already has plenty of  tried and tested techniques to up homes’ energy efficiency by improving windows and doors, but we have to assess the environmental and cost implications of any work we carry out.

Work with what you’ve got

One ‘quick win’ to improve efficiency and reduce energy spend is to upgrade current housing stock with double glazing.

Double glazing saves between 60-70% of the energy used to heat a home over a 20 year period, so the move could have a huge impact nationally.

By upgrading rather than installing new units you also save on the energy it would take to produce new frames and transport them.

The 2008 English Housing Survey showed only 69% of dwellings had windows that were all or mainly double glazed PVCu, so there’s clearly room for improvement.

Female campaigner with 'no new frames' banner.

Prima launched its Green Route to upgrades campaign at the Homes 2012 event in November.

Help is at hand
Double glazing is just one example of how to reduce waste and energy spend, but choosing to repair rather than replace stock has even wider benefits.

If we replace an entire frame made from oil based PVCu it would go to landfill or recycling, both of these options cost energy. Another energy saving if you upgrade.

Upgrades also remove the need for access equipment and transportation fuel costs of new units. Many new products are imported from as far away as Asia, so it’s more efficient if you can avoid this loop in the chain.

There will be times you need to fully replace elements of the unit’s hardware, but it’s still possible to make an environmental saving. Prima’s used hardware is retained or fully recycled, split into material streams to be dealt with differently and fully recycled. Glass is cleaned and stripped. If PVCu has to be replaced that’s fully recycled.

As well as environmental benefits, upgrades ensure compliance with the latest building regulations and minimise the disruption of works to residents.

So if our sector is under pressure to achieve the new EU targets, to improve compliance and resident satisfaction, we may not need to look too far: The technology and know-how is there. What we must do now is use it.

• Prima Service has just launched its new Green Route campaign, encouraging upgrades to save waste and budget. To learn more about this and how our CapitalStretch service offers a Green Route for upgrading your existing frames for greater thermal efficiency read our service page or take a look at a case study which incorporates self-cleaning glass as well as high performance energy saving capabilities.

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