Timber Windows contd…

Peter Napier FRICS


Good quality softwood (Douglas fir for example) from Scandinavia and oak can be left unpainted. It becomes grey with time and provided the windows have been well detailed and well built they will last indefinitely. (See the old sash window on the previous page).

A new World Wildlife Fund (WWF)report has concluded that wood windows are better for the environment than PVC. Their new report ‘Window of opportunity - the environmental and economic benefits of specifying timber window frames’ found that PVC windows were less sustainable and more hazardous than wood.

PVC windows also generate more waste and use eight times more energy to manufacture than timber windows. The report also states that hazardous chemicals are released into the environment during one of the methods of PVC disposal - incineration.

The  WWF is also encouraging specifiers and buyers of windows to choose wood which has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This guarantees the wood has been sourced from a well-managed forest or other controlled wood source, and ensures that the timber is legal and not from a controversial source. Christian Thompson, Forests Officer at WWF, said, "This report clearly shows that PVC windows are far from environmentally friendly and I hope it will go some way to dispelling the myth that they are a green choice." For a copy of the report, see Click here

In its report, Wood Windows-design, selection and insulation, the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA) estimates that it takes eight times more energy to manufacture a PVC window than an equivalent timber frame.

“The production and disposal of PVC-u windows leads to the release of highly poisonous chemicals which threaten the environment and human health. PVC-u production involves no less than six of the fifteen most hazardous chemicals listed by European governments for priority elimination.” TRADA  

Unlisted Regency terrace in Shrewsbury in conservation area. At the time these windows were replace with uPVC there was no Article 4 direction preventing this from happening. There now is but not before the appearance of this row of terraces was spoiled by the removal of the original timber vertical sliding sash windows.