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Environmental comparison of repairing wooden windows vs. replacing them with new PVC or aluminium windows

Environmental comparison of repairing wooden windows vs. replacing them with new PVC or aluminium windows

how sustainable is…

This study compares the environmental impact of repairing an old wooden window frame with replacing it with a new window frame, where the new window frame is either made from PVC or from aluminium clad wood.

The study considers most environmental impacts associated with the repair and replacement of the three window types: from the recovery of the raw materials and the manufacture of repair or replacement materials to waste disposal. The study does not include the environmental impact associated with heat loss of different windows (i.e. the environmental impact from emissions due to generation of extra heat).

The study suggests that restoring and maintaining wood windows has a lower impact on the environment overall than replacing them with PVC or with aluminium clad wood windows. The study suggests that PVC windows create the greatest environmental impact out of the three types of frames considered, over a 100 year repair/replacement period.

Link to full report

While we make every effort to be accurate, we do not claim that this summary is representative. Please refer to our Legal Disclaimer for details.

what can I do to reduce my environmental footprint?

If you own a house with old wooden window frames, good maintenance is important to avoid having to replace the windows (and to avoid unnecessary heat loss). The environmental impact of repairing or restoring old wooden windows is lower than the environmental impact of replacing them with aluminium clad or PVC windows (assuming they all seal equally well).

If you live in a moderate or cold climate and if your windows are single glazed, you may want to consider double glazing them, if you can afford the upfront cost. While this is not the subject of this study, it will be of significant benefit not only to the comfort of your home and your energy bill but also to the environment because the reduced heating requirements will mean lower CO2 emissions.

Report Rating: 2 out of 3

Report Published: 2014

Country: US

Author(s): Katherine M. Switala-Elmhurst, Philip D. Udo-Inyang

Publisher: Associated Schools of Construction

Funder: not known

Keywords: life cycle analysis, LCA, cradle to grave analysis, environmental footprint, environmental performance, environmental impact, window repair, window restoration, maintenance, window panes, double glazing, heat loss, PVC window frames, aluminum, aluminium, alloy

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