In Australia, we love our windows for bringing natural light into our homes – the bigger and more of them, the better. But when it comes to insulation – keeping heat either in or out, many of these windows are not as energy efficient as they could be. Here we explain how higher-performance uPVC windows can help to deliver that all-important cost-effective solution.
Improving the energy efficiency of new construction and existing residential buildings in Australia has been gathering momentum in recent years. Cutting down the carbon footprint of our built environment and reducing carbon emissions is seen as a vital contribution towards fighting climate change.
Adding insulation to walls has been seen as a relatively cost-effective way of improving the star energy efficiency rating of new builds and renovations. However, by creating ‘holes’ and thermal bridges in the building fabric, it is windows that are a major source of compromise in the thermal performance in the building. A glazed wall makes your house more difficult to maintain a comfortable temperature all year round. It is like an ‘open wound’ – either leaking or absorbing too much heat, depending on the season.
So, how do we try to heal this ‘wound in the wall’? To understand how poor-performing windows leave a gaping ‘hole’ in an insulated wall, we have to consider how insulation and conduction of thermal energy is measured to compare the two structures – walls and windows.
Wall insulation is usually given in R-Values – a measure of how much an insulation structure will resist the flow of thermal energy over a two-dimensional surface. Windows are rated in U-values (the inverse of R-value) – how much an insulation product will conduct, or lose, heat. So, if we want to compare the window to the insulated wall, we can convert the U value to the R Value.
People are used to hearing about wall insulation R values but may be less familiar with U values for windows. A large, glazed area in an Australian home typically has a U value of 6, equivalent to an R value of 0.15, whereas wall insulation is expected to have an R value of 1.0 to 2.5 depending on climate zone.
For the Victorian climate, the government authority Sustainability Victoria’s recommendation for wall insulation R value is R2.5, with a minimum requirement of R1.5. So, that glazed wall or large window would really struggle to cope with keeping in, or rejecting, heat.
A glazed area will leak heat in winter and allows heat into the interior in summer leading to uncomfortable interior temperatures. What we need is for the glazing to be better insulated, like the wall. That means a lower U value for the windows and glazed doors with a more air tight seal.
While they enhance natural light levels, windows are much less efficient than insulated walls at keeping temperatures stable and sustainable. Nearly 40% of all energy loss from buildings is through windows and doors and up to 87% of building heat can be gained through windows.
Various measures can improve a window’s efficiency. Consider double-glazed panes, reflective low-emissivity coatings, insulating gas (argon) between the glass panes, and tightly sealed uPVC frames that reduce air infiltration between the sash and house frame. Unlike aluminium, uPVC does not conduct heat. In fact, uPVC is 1,000 times less conductive than aluminium.
The lower the U value of the window (and therefore the higher its R value), the more insulation it will provide – keeping you warmer in winter and cooler at the height of summer. Most double-glazed uPVC windows in Australia have U values below 2.2, providing effective and thermally efficient insulation against extremes of both heat and cold, resulting in more stable, comfortable interior temperatures.
According to the CSIRO’s Housing Data Portal, although a growing number of new builds are installing higher performing windows, two thirds of new builds and apartments in 2019 still had windows installed with U values higher than 4. This is a concern as it is locking in poor thermal comfort and energy inefficiency for a long time into the future.
It is, however, welcome news to see the specific reference to uPVC windows for higher performance in some of the free architect-designed plans and base specifications for homes to achieve a minimum 7 Star NatHERS rating in a range of climate zones. The plans have been produced by the Australian federal government and can be accessed through the Department of Industry and Science’s YourHome.gov.au website.
For example, using double glazed uPVC windows in the four-bedroomed ‘Telopea’ home, designed for the Melbourne climate, would achieve a top 7.1- or 7.2-Star rating in terms of energy efficiency. Energy efficient windows make your home more comfortable, dramatically reduce your energy costs and help to create a brighter, cleaner and healthier environment.
Given the high profile of climate change issues and the urgency of addressing climate change-inducing emissions, the thermal-efficiency benefits of higher performing uPVC windows have a serious role to play in improving the residential energy efficiency of our buildings for decades to come. And to help mend that ‘wound in the wall’.
The UK-based Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) has announced it will be moving its triennial global conference, PVC 2021 to an online format.
Focusing on 'Success and Innovation in the Circular Economy', it will run as a fully interactive, virtual conference experience between 10 and 12 May 2021, with emphasis on delivering the exceptional engagement, networking and knowledge exchange between participants, for which the PVC conference series is renowned.
The Vinyl Council of Australia is again proud to partner with this leading event for the vinyl industry.
Usually staged in the UK, as a virtual conference this year, it offers a chance for more participants in the Australasian PVC industry to attend, with the possibility of creating a personalised schedule, networking with attendees (instant chat feature), visiting exhibitors and joining sessions at a click of a button. Registration offers on-demand access after the event and a book of detailed technical conference papers.
Dr Jason Leadbitter, Chair of the PVC organising committee and Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Inovyn, says, ‘I’m delighted to see the relaunch and opportunity for a fully virtual event that provides a unique opportunity to have the highest-ever participation to either watch live or via immediate streaming. PVC 2021 presents a great opportunity – there is really no excuse to miss out on any presentation.’
PVC 2021 is the world’s leading conference on Vinyl and this year’s theme will focus on ‘Success and Innovation in the Circular Economy,’ with an impressive line-up delivering a current, comprehensive and wide-ranging technical programme with 60 papers covering seven technical sessions, with speakers and discussion opportunities in between.
IOM3 CEO Dr Colin Church CEnv FIMMM, says, ‘The PVC conference series is rightly praised for the extremely high standard of its technical content, and going virtual means this will be accessible for a wider audience than ever. Coupled with the exciting networking opportunities the virtual conference platform offers, PVC 2021 will be an unmissable event for all in the sector.’
Registration to attend PVC 2021 is now live. To find out more about this year’s event and to register, visit www.iom3.org/events-awards/pvc-2021.html
The Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA) and the United States Vinyl Sustainability Council (VSC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore a pathway to reciprocity between the two sustainability programs by sharing best practices and collaborating on sustainability program development.
Collaboration between the VCA’s PVC Stewardship Program and VSC’s +Vantage Vinyl™ program seeks to promote global harmonization, broaden recognition of industry leaders, and increase industry participation in these sustainability programs.
“While circumstances vary regionally, sustainability is a global issue and vinyl products participate in a global market,” said Sophi MacMillan, VCA Chief Executive. “It is in the best interest of the industry and society to work across borders to help the vinyl industry to continue to make progress.”
Trade association-led sustainability programs serve an important function to advance voluntary improvements in the industry. Working together, member companies can share best practices leading to continuous improvement throughout the industry.
“Many of our members do business throughout the world,” said Jay Thomas, VSC Executive Director. “Developing a pathway to reciprocity between the various sustainability programs will foster progress by easing the administration burden on companies and encouraging more participation. Increased program participation is a key factor in advancing the sustainability of the industry.”
Companies participating in the PVC Stewardship Program and +Vantage Vinyl programs agree to transparent voluntary commitments and guiding principles of sustainability that are measured and reported on an annual basis. The programs are designed to be inclusive for companies at any stage of the sustainability journey but encourage continuous improvement. The overall performance of member companies is reflected in annual sustainability reporting.
To learn more about the PVC Stewardship Program visit https://www.vinyl.org.au/sustainability/stewardship and https://vantagevinyl.com for more information about +Vantage Vinyl.
About the Vinyl Sustainability Council
The Vinyl Sustainability Council (VSC), founded in 2016 in partnership with the Vinyl Institute, is a council created to advance the vinyl industry’s efforts in addressing sustainability in the United States. The VSC is a collaborative platform for companies, organizations and other industry stakeholders to come together to create a sustainable development path for the industry. For more information, please visit vantagevinyl.com/vinyl-sustainability-council/.
The Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA) and its project partner, Specialised Textiles Association (STA) have secured Government grant funding of nearly $350,000 to further research into the recycling of waste PVC and polyester composite textile products in Australia.
Their TexBack project is one of only 15 successful grant applications (out of a total 190 submissions) and will receive $349,850 from the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (NPSIF). The Government’s funding program was launched to promote and stimulate shared action for everyday products with a focus on working to reduce waste generation and increased resource recovery.
‘TexBack’ is an industry-driven initiative which aims to steward polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-polyester (PES) composite textile products and waste which are currently not recovered in Australia.
The Morrison Government’s grant will fund the development of the business case for a national product stewardship scheme for textiles such as grain covers, tarpaulins, advertising banners, tents and marquees, roofing and grounds sheets, truck tarps, marine fabrics, swimming pool liners and upholstery fabrics. The project covers a range of activities, including testing of a new chemical separation technology, that will enable the specialised textiles and vinyl sectors to address the growing concerns of waste ending up in landfill.
The NPSIF has projected 1.5 million tonnes of waste to be diverted from landfill through the initiative and will further boost the economy by creating more than 560 potential jobs.
Developing a uniquely Australian solution will pave the way for the establishment of a new, industry-led product stewardship scheme that recovers a complex local waste stream, reprocesses it within Australia and supports the local manufacture of an innovative recycled content PVC building product being developed here, with export market potential. Local markets for recovered polyester will also be sought.
Welcoming the grant, the Vinyl Council of Australia’s PVC Stewardship Manager, Jan van de Graaff said: “TexBack will build on earlier VCA-led research into potential recycling options of PVC coated fabrics conducted over the past four years.
“This grant now gives VCA and STA a real opportunity to collaborate to engage the textile sector in developing a viable scheme for recovery and reprocessing of this waste stream, particularly as there is a potential end-use for the material that will lead to manufacturing of a completely new durable building product in Australia.”
Ana Drougas, Executive Office for the STA said “We are excited to be working with the VCA in an Australian first project to pilot the introduction of innovative and uniquely Australian world-leading PVC Separation technology. We acknowledge and commend the Commonwealth Government for elevating the status of product stewardship as a means of addressing environmental sustainability, growing jobs and the economy.”
In announcing the grant recipients, Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley said: “We have made it clear that industry needs to take action for their waste. We are investing $10.5 million to seed 11 new and expand four existing industry-led initiatives that will make a practical environmental difference and it is great to see industry respond strongly to our call.”
“Our seed funding, along with the reforms in our Recycling Act, empowers industry and product experts to take more responsibility for their products,” said Hon Trevor Evans MP Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Assistant Minister.
“The grants were six-times oversubscribed which clearly shows the appetite in Australia for putting the power of recycling into the hands of businesses and consumers.”
For more information on the funded product stewardship schemes, visit: https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste-resource-recovery/product-stewardship/national-product-stewardship-investment-fund
In the current business climate, the application of product stewardship has much to offer to individual businesses, industry collectives and governments seeking to drive sustainable economic growth.
This has been brought into a sharper focus in recent times due to the global economic downturn triggered by the covid-19 pandemic which has led many businesses and governments to recognize the level of economic dependence they have on offshore suppliers and markets, including for waste materials. This, coupled with the impact of the China National Sword policy, has the potential to stimulate new ways of thinking and smarter approaches to business and economic management and prosperity. One such approach, and one that has considerable merit, is product stewardship.
Product stewardship is defined as “the principle that everyone involved in a product supply chain - including raw material and component suppliers, product and packaging manufacturers, brand owners, recyclers, governments and consumers - share responsibility for minimising environmental impacts over that product’s life cycle” . Product stewardship can therefore make a significant contribution to the circular economy. Stewardship, at its best, takes a life cycle thinking approach to ensure products and materials are designed to avoid adverse impacts on society and the environment and that the resources consumed are retained within the productive economy in a cyclical manner.
The Vinyl Council, through its PVC Stewardship Program, has been at the forefront of this journey in Australia for quite some time. The Program commits Signatories to implement life cycle thinking and consider the whole-of-life impacts of the products that they introduce to the marketplace. This encompasses a wide range of considerations including raw materials and resources, embodied carbon, toxicity, and lifespan. This has resulted in the sector producing products that deliver proven environmental benefits, as a function of their excellent performance, durability, low waste generation and affordability which has been borne out through numerous lifecycle assessments carried out globally and locally.
Furthermore, when stakeholders collaborate, opportunities arise for better resource management, which in turn can stimulate local employment and deliver greater security and access to the inputs needed by local manufacturers. The Vinyl Council is pleased Federal and State Governments have recently announced funding programs which may provide opportunities to bring together innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new systems and infrastructure, or products, which will lead to enhanced recovery and reprocessing of greater volumes of PVC for the domestic market.
The Council firmly believes that a product stewardship focus can translate into tangible financial and reputational benefits for those organisations that embrace and commit to implementing product stewardship approaches. These benefits are evident both in the public realm but also in the disciplines it enforces on organisations in terms of how they manage and monitor their day to day operations.
Furthermore, acting as leaders through product stewardship delivers:
With a significant track record of driving change through the industry since 2002, the PVC Stewardship Program is an example of voluntary stewardship bringing benefit to both industry and community.
If you are an Australian business operating in the vinyls product sector and are interesting in learning more about our PVC Stewardship Program, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 03 9510 1711.
For our latest results, please check out our annual Progress Report.
Matthew Hoyne (L), Chairman and Rob McLorinan (R), Vice Chairman
The Board of the Vinyl Council of Australia has elected a new Chairman following the decision by Ian Rayner (Managing Director, Breathe Fresh Australia Pty Ltd) to retire as Chairman after eight years at the helm.
Taking over the role is Matthew Hoyne, Director and General Manager of vinyl compounder and recycler, Welvic Australia.
Ian has supported the Council with his extensive management and industry experience since his appointment as Chairman in 2012 and as a Director since 2005. He has steered the Council through the major industry restructure in 2016 when the country’s only resin producer ceased manufacturing, as well as through the current, challenging pandemic. The strength of the Council today as the peak association for the vinyl industry is testament to Ian’s leadership. He will remain on the Board as a Director.
Matthew Hoyne’s role as Chairman commenced on 25 August. Matthew has served on the Council Board as a Director since 2009 and has been the Treasurer and Deputy Chairman for the past eight years.
He brings over 26 years of experience in the plastics industry having held several technical and commercial roles with different plastics manufacturers. He has been a part owner and Director of Welvic Australia since 2006.
Matthew has been a member of the Council’s Technical Steering Group for the PVC Stewardship Program and currently chairs the PVC AUS conference organising committee and the PVC Circularity Task Force.
The Council’s Board currently has eight directors, including Matthew. These are: