Sustainable, Healthy And Warm Social Housing
3 November 2017
“Societies risk locking their building stock into inefficient and environmentally detrimental practices for decades unless efforts are made to mainstream sustainable buildings,” says the United Nations Environment Programme. It developed the Sustainable Social Housing Initiative to combat the widely-held belief that sustainability concepts can only be applied to high-standard, upmarket housing.
Here in the UK we face a similar issue and we need to ensure that the homes we provide are supporting both people and the environment. Affordable and sustainable homes are important to all social housing providers for reasons put forward by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust:
- to meet people’s needs for warmth and improve their overall quality of life;
- to protect the environment and cut the effects of greenhouse gases and impacts of climate change;
- to tackle fuel poverty by cutting fuel, water and other bills;
- to lead by example and enable residents to live sustainably.
All four of these concerns are met by PVC-U windows – reduced energy costs, long-term cost-in-use savings due to low-maintenance needs and a ‘green’ element, because of high levels of top quality recycled content.
All this is achieved without any aesthetic compromise – our doors and windows specified for upmarket developments throughout the UK thanks to the quality of their design and construction.
Sustainability is integral to the Eurocell business model: PVC-U is a highly recyclable material and we make full use of this in our production and design. We recognise that if our business relies upon resources that cannot be renewed, then our growth is limited by the supply of those resource. Instead we reuse material so our growth is freed from these restrictions.
Consequently, we have our own recycling division, Merritt Plastics: the UK’s largest recycling facility for PVC-U doors and windows. This division stops around 500,000 window frames and doors going to landfill, in a process we call ‘closed loop recycling’, taking out the old PVC-U windows and doors, removing all the PVC-U and then making completely new doors and windows. Around 6,000 tonnes per year is recycled to produce a variety of new products, from thermal inserts to the Modus window system. In this way, we reuse nearly all our production waste.
Our trade customers and fabricators do not have to pay expensive landfill charges because we go the extra mile – literally. We collect PVC-U waste free of charge for processing at our recycling plant. But our recycling is genuine – it is not downcycling, where materials might not go to landfill but they are not up to the standard of the original.
PVC-U is unique: it can be repurposed up to 10 times without any deterioration in quality or performance. So, we can use ‘post-consumer’ material to make doors and windows that are more attractive, more secure and more thermally efficient than the products they replace. Upcycling, in effect.
We call this process ‘Closed Loop Recycling’ and you can see it in action in our UPVC sustainability pages here.
In this way, our PVC-U products reduce reliance on unrenewable resources, deliver cost savings to the resident and fulfil all the needs of the social housing provider: lower energy costs, lower maintenance costs and greater environmental responsibility.