Open any trade magazine or visit supplier websites and you will find numerous articles and products offering exceptional ‘green’ credentials. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the glass and glazing industry as each manufacturer attempts to outperform the next by offering astounding figures for thermal performance.
What is surprising however, is the regular use of terms such as ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘green’ simply because a product offers a low u-value. As more buildings are constructed to Passivhaus standards there appears to be a blurring of the lines between what is good for the environment and what is thermally efficient. Whilst there is no doubt that increased thermal efficiency contributes to a reduction in burning of fossil fuels; this alone should not be the deciding factor in whether a product is actually environmentally friendly.
The majority of flat rooflights on the market today are manufactured from either PVC or aluminium and both of these require an exceptional amount of energy to produce and extract a lot of resources from the planet without putting anything back.
While most companies will adopt some sort of environmental policy, telling customers that their products use a percentage of recycled material, this is more likely to be about cost rather than any real environmental intentions. After all recyclables are recycled because it is the cheapest available option and it makes more financial sense to do so rather than to send them to a landfill – with Landfill tax currently over £84 per tonne, plus the gate fee on top.
It stands to reason that consuming vast amounts of natural resources to produce the raw materials of a product negates the environmental benefits further down the chain, regardless of what the product becomes. This has often been overlooked in the rooflight industry because of the low maintenance and long life that aluminium and PVC can offer the end user. For decades these two materials have been unrivalled and it was widely accepted that flat rooflights should be manufactured from one of these materials; until now.
There is now a real alternative in the flat rooflight market that not only offers exceptional thermal performance, but is also a genuine environmentally friendly product in every sense. The Lumen Planus is manufactured in the UK using Accoya® wood which is a material that has been thoroughly tested for dimensional stability, durability, paint retention and in-ground conditions to ensure optimal performance. It offers a new standard in high performance, sustainable and low maintenance applications.
In addition to the outstanding performance, Accoya® wood is one of the very few building products to have acquired Cradle to CradleSM Certification on the elusive Gold level. Cradle to Cradle (C2C) provides a means to tangibly and credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design including the use of environmentally safe and healthy materials and instituting strategies for social responsibility.
A carbon footprint assessment was executed for Accoya® wood by Verco in line with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Resources Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocol best practice guidelines, based on a cradle to factory gate scenario. This includes sourcing, harvesting and processing of the input timber, as well as all energy and raw material consumption and waste production. The results are shown in the graph below.
Today there are some exceptional flat rooflight products available for specifiers to choose from. It is a fact that both aluminium and PVC are very good at providing superb thermal performance and that modern technology has reduced the end of life environmental impact. That said, if your project requires a truly environmentally friendly product then Accoya® provides compelling environmental advantages in every stage of the life cycle.