Syndey based Houzz contributor, Rebecca Gross has written a great guide to uPVC window frames and their thermal-energy performance, acoustic properties and durability....
uPVC Windows Alliance
Read all the latest news and information regarding uPVC Windows, the energy efficient and low maintenance alternative to traditional window frames.
The Australian federal government, through the Department of Industry and Science’s YourHome.gov.au website, has released free architect‐designed plans and base specifications for homes to achieve a minimum 7 Star NatHERS rating in a range of climate zones....
Building in a bushfire-prone area introduces a number of additional design, specification and construction parameters that cannot be ignored. It has been widely stated that these additional requirements can add extra costs to a new home, though it is important to note that there is usually more than one option available to designers and builders to meet the requirements of the building regulations and standards.
Triple-glazed UPVC windows are an integral component of one of Australia’s first certified passive houses. Recognised with a Good Design Award® earlier this year, the SuperPod® project takes a comprehensive approach to building design. International Passive House is touted as the best energy standard to combat climate change with optimum indoor comfort.
The standard calls for a cohesive building envelope, using quality components that work together effectively to enhance energy efficiency and ventilation. The success of the SuperPod® project is based on a combination of triple-glazed UPVC windows, a three-fold increase in insulation over legal requirements and ventilation at a rate of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals.
uPVC window frames are a unique construction alternative that offer proven durability and performance.
PVC is an incredibly versatile polymer used for a vast range of building products from potable water pressure pipes to power cables and hygienic hospital flooring. The ‘u’ in uPVC simply means un-plasticised PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It means the polymer is in a hard, rigid form rather than flexible or soft.
uPVC is an ideal material for long-lasting, low maintenance, thermally efficient windows. It is these key features that have led to uPVC windows being the most popular choice in Europe and America for decades. In Australia, they have been in use for around 25 years. But it is only more recently that their popularity has started to grow as homeowners and builders alike are looking for better products and materials to construct more energy efficient homes.
Unlike alternative, traditional materials for frames, uPVC is water and salt resistant and thermally non-conductive so it can withstand the extremes of heat, cold, wind, rain, and snow without problems of warping, corroding, rotting, peeling, chipping or flaking. uPVC provides an all-round, more durable option.
This makes uPVC windows low maintenance and easy to maintain. Although most popular as white profiles, they are available in a variety of modern colours. Whether white or coloured, uPVC window frames won’t need painting or sealing, significantly reducing maintenance over their life time. They can be easily cleaned with water and detergent.
Quality Australian suppliers and fabricators of uPVC windows comply with the Australian Standard for windows (AS2047) which stipulates uPVC frames must have testing certificates that demonstrate compliance with high UV conditions. This gives consumers extra confidence that they can resist the harsh Australian sun, meaning uPVC windows are a tough, durable, and sustainable window option that deliver a high level of energy efficiency and performance.
Despite their huge popularity in Europe and North America, uPVC windows are only now being more widely taken up in Australia as home owners and builders try to achieve or exceed important 6-star energy efficiency building ratings.
Quality uPVC windows have long been recognised as a high performance window choice that offers thermal advantages over alternate materials such as timber or aluminium.
Thermal performance is one of the most important characteristics of a window. Double glazed uPVC windows can be as much as 4 ½ times more energy efficient than single glazed aluminium framed windows.
In winter, up to 70% of heat from inside your house is lost through standard 3mm window panes and even more is lost with heat transfer through metal frames.
By cutting the transfer of heat from the warm inside to the cold side of the window, uPVC windows with double glazing will significantly reduce the loss of heating warmth in cold weather, meaning less energy is required to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
In Australia, uPVC windows consistently rate among the highest performers under the WERS rating system and significantly outperform most aluminium windows.
They are proven performers in reducing energy consumption for heating and consequently can make a useful contribution to lowering your household energy and gas bills.
There is a common misconception that double glazed windows are only useful in the cold climates of Europe and North America to keep out the cold. However double glazing can be just as effective at keeping the heat of an Australian summer out.
Windows can severely impact on the heating and cooling loads of a building. Standard glazed windows account for 40% of a home’s heating energy loss and up to 87% of summer heat gain in a typical Australian insulated home.
uPVC frames and double glazed windows are relatively new in Australia but common in Europe and North America. In fact, they are the most popular choice for windows in these regions. Worldwide more than half of all new and replacement residential windows are uPVC, that’s almost 290million window units each year chosen for their durability, energy efficiency, performance, low maintenance and style.
Choosing uPVC double glazed window units with a low solar heat gain and low U values reduces or eliminates the need for expensive artificial cooling.
The unique challenges that the Australian climate presents when choosing energy efficient building materials, and specifically window profiles, will be explored at a Technical Seminar presented by the uPVC Windows Alliance in Sydney 12 August and Melbourne 13 August.
The seminar will draw on the extensive experience of the European uPVC windows market looking at how window profile quality can be certified locally to stand up to Australia’s climatic conditions.
International guest speaker is Mr Bernhard Elias, responsible for quality and certification under the German RAL window certification system - recognised in Germany and internationally as a symbol for superior quality products and services. He will be joined by Chief Executive of the Vinyl Council of Australia, Ms. Sophi MacMillan in this free technical seminar who will talk about local uPVC window industry developments.
This seminar is organised by the uPVC Windows Alliance, an initiative of the Vinyl Council of Australia, to give specifiers, architects, designers and home-owners information on uPVC windows and how such high performance windows can help to create more energy efficient homes.
“Europe have long focused on using energy efficient windows for comfort and cost savings. And in those regions, uPVC window frames with double or triple glazing are the most popular choice. However in Australia, we have traditionally used timber frames which require high maintenance; or aluminium window frames, which are lower maintenance than timber but poor thermal insulators,” said Ms MacMillan. “The opportunity to have Mr. Elias here to share the European experience will be invaluable as the Australian industry is continually striving to create more energy efficient buildings.”
The invitation to the Technical Seminar is open to all who are interested in achieving energy efficiency in commercial and residential buildings and how the Australian certification process will provide confidence in durability and long lasting energy performance.
It’s a simple goal in modern-day home life ... keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. But up to 70 percent of heat is gained or lost through standard 3mm window panes and even more can be lost with heat transfer through metal frames.
In winter, a single-glazed, 3mm-deep pane of glass can lose up to 15 times more heat than an insulated wall of the same area. In summer, single glazed standard windows of an average home account for over 25 percent of total heat gain.
Double glazing creates an air pocket between the two glass panes providing an insulating barrier, which significantly improves the window's thermal and acoustic insulation. The greater the gap between window panes, the greater the temperature and acoustic insulation.
Using double glazing with uPVC window frames will further improve the result as uPVC doesn’t conduct heat well and therefore doesn’t transfer temperatures from inside to outside, or outside to inside.
The low conductivity of uPVC as a material, the tight seals uPVC windows provide and the ease with which they can be fabricated for double and triple glazing, make uPVC double glazed windows an excellent choice in energy efficient buildings.
Tasmanian company and Vinyl Council member Envorinex is expanding a recycling program, leading to 125 bulker bags of waste from various Melbourne-based uPVC window fabricators being recycled into new products.
Since 2011, Envorinex has been working with the Oakleigh Centre for Intellectually Disabled Citizens in Melbourne who were supplied a granulator by the company to manage recycling of the uPVC waste collected. The Oakleigh Centre inspect the material to the Quality Assurance standard required, granulate and pack it into new bulker bags which are then shipped to Envorinex in George Town, Tasmania to be manufactured into 100% recycled commercial products.
“Envorinex recognises the importance of environmental sustainability. That our Melbourne recycling program has seen over 200 tonnes of uPVC waste diverted from landfill so far and made into commercially viable recycled products is not only exciting, but fitting with our sustainability responsibility and our recycling mandate,” said Ms Jenny Brown, Managing Director, Poly Marketing Pty Ltd trading as Envorinex™.
Envorinex has been collecting waste uPVC from window fabricators in Tasmania for the past three years. Due to the overwhelming demand for its recycled product range, Envorinex sourced additional waste uPVC material from Melbourne as feedstock for converting into new products.
Ms Sophi MacMillan, Chief Executive of Vinyl Council of Australia explained: “uPVC windows are the most commonly used window type in regions such as Europe and the US, and today, we are seeing growing demand in Australia for these high performance windows to improve home energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.
“As the use of uPVC windows frames increases, we will see growth in fabricator waste volumes available for recycling programs such as this one. The uPVC material is very recyclable, as evidenced by the tens of thousands of tonnes of fabrication and post-consumer uPVC windows that are recycled every year in Europe.”
“Envorinex is a great example of a company putting its PVC Product Stewardship Program commitments into practice,” concluded Ms MacMillan.
Many of the imported profiles used to make uPVC windows in Australia already contain recycled post-consumer window material, demonstrating the feasibility of cyclic management of the product’s materials.
Currently, Envorinex are in discussions with a disability centre in Sydney to replicate the Melbourne recycling business and meet ongoing demand for PVC recyclate