The uPVC Window Alliance is pleased to announce the release of an Australian Industry Code of Practice (ICP) and accreditation scheme for the manufacture of uPVC (unplasticised PVC), or vinyl profiles to be used in windows and doors in Australia....
uPVC Windows Alliance
Read all the latest news and information regarding uPVC Windows, the energy efficient and low maintenance alternative to traditional window frames.
Tired of your precious home heating or cooling escaping through old single-pane windows? Or are you becoming frustrated with growing traffic noise affecting your indoor comfort? Then it might be time to consider an upgrade to double-glazing to improve the energy efficiency or the acoustic insulation of your home....
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.
Windows lose and gain heat by conduction, convection, radiation and air leakage. This heat transfer is expressed with U-values.
As a rating of energy efficiency, U-value can be used to consider performance of windows, exterior doors, skylights and all other exterior building components, including exterior walls.
In windows, the U-value measures how well heat is transferred by the entire window, that is the frame, sash and glass combined.
The lower the U-value, the more insulated the window unit and therefore the better the window will be in retaining the interior’s heat in the winter and keeping heat out during summer.
U-values are important because they form the basis of any energy or carbon reduction standard.
A significant part of the thermal energy transmission can be through the frames, or profiles, depending on how well the profile material conducts heat. Metals are generally good conductors which is why they feel hot to touch when exposed to the sun. This makes them poor thermal insulators.
Timber and plastics such as uPVC are poor conductors which therefore stops the heat transfer from the heat-exposed side to the non-exposed side. PVC and timber window frames are approximately thermally equivalent and provide a high level of energy efficiency compared to a standard aluminium frame.
The tilt and turn uPVC window has proven one the of the most popular window choices in Europe and the US where PVC windows have more than 80 per cent market share for new and replacement windows. The reason for their popularity is that tilt and turn uPVC windows offer a stylish, low maintenance and contemporary look with some unique benefits over more traditional awning or casement windows.
Tilt and turn windows open inward rather like casement windows, but they can also tilt inward from the top. Easy to operate, the window can be operated smoothly with one hand.
The multi-point locking mechanism of these uPVC windows keeps the sash and frame from twisting or bending while providing an extra safe window locking mechanism - great for secure ventilation at night.
As well as offering the excellent thermal and acoustic protection expected of uPVC window frames, tilt and turn windows are ideal for multi-storey buildings. The outside of the window can easily be accessed from the inside since the window opens directly into the room, making cleaning simple and safe.
Using the tilt position, the window opens inwards at the top, offering great ventilation yet maintaining a high degree of security because of the multi-point locking mechanism built into the uPVC profiles.
Tilt and turn – another great benefit of uPVC windows.
While white window frames for homes are still a popular choice, today’s range of energy efficient uPVC windows offer a wide range of colour options and design styles.
uPVC window frames can be supplied as coloured polymer profiles, foiled or laminated with coloured films, factory painted, or clad on the outside with powder-coated aluminium profiles.
For coloured, metal-look or wood-look frames, the most common approach is to use foils or films. Foiled profiles from quality uPVC window suppliers are designed not to chip, warp or rot, delaminate or bubble.
In Australia, specially formulated high-UV resistant foils and laminations are available offering years of colourfastness and providing a durable, low maintenance solution for great looking windows and doors.
Talk to your window supplier about the best colour and options to suit your home.
On behalf of the uPVC Windows Alliance, the Vinyl Council of Australia recently hosted a series of technical seminars on the European approach to high quality uPVC windows and how the certification process can be applied to the growing Australian uPVC windows market.
Keynote speaker for the seminars was highly regarded European uPVC windows quality and certification expert, Mr. Bernhard Elias. Mr. Elias is 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.
Much of the presentation focused on the need for a certification process to set out the performance requirements for uPVC window profiles within the context of the relevant climatic conditions. Mr. Elias shared the European experience and programs to members of the uPVC Windows Alliance and interested industry members who are currently defining an Australian Industry Code of Practice (ICP).
During his presentation, Mr. Elias addressed the question of why there is the need to have a rigorous certification scheme for uPVC window profile systems.
“Certification delivers confidence in the product– a proof of long time suitability. Every requirement for certification has to do with long term use.
“And when it comes to suitable certification systems for Australia, there is one peculiarity to consider – the sun!“ concluded Mr. Elias.
Mr Elias explained that, in his view, any accepted artificial weathering test of profiles destined for Australian use will have to obey the high irradiation of Australia’s climate.
The Australian ICP currently under development intends to address this. It is intended for suppliers of profiles to local fabricators to give confidence to consumers in the durability of uPVC profiles under Australian climatic conditions. The extruded uPVC profiles will have to meet specific composition, weathering resistance, colour and strength requirements. These performance requirements were selected as they affect the longevity of the profile.
Click here to view or download Mr. Elias’ full presentation
One important factor in the now well established position of uPVC windows in Europe and the US, has been their recognised ease of maintenance.
uPVC windows do not rot, warp, peel or chip. Over their service life, you won’t need to repaint or re-seal the frames, significantly reducing maintenance and your time. They require only an occasional wipe down for appearance purposes and are easily cleaned with water and detergent.
Windows are intended to be exposed to the elements, including wind, rain and UV light and so, like other materials, uPVC window frames are designed to withstand the weather and remain durable. In Europe and the US, across a range of climates, they have a proven 40 year expected life span, over which time, some limited, superficial changes can occur, such as a loss of gloss on the surface finish of the frame.
In Australia, quality uPVC profiles use a special formulation designed for the high UV experienced here and in some other parts of the world. Quality uPVC profiles should not discolour under exposure to the Australian summer sun. To provide greater confidence to consumers about the durability of uPVC windows in Australian conditions, the uPVC Windows Alliance members are developing an Industry Code of Practice with stringent testing requirements for weather resistance and colour retention.
Typical uPVC frames are white or light coloured. However, a wide range of colours or a timber-look can be provided by the addition of durable laminated foils to the profile. These foils are also available in high UV-resistant formulations and usually have manufacturers’ warranties as to their life spans.
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.
As urbanisation continues to grow and our cities’ growth corridors are frequently located along major transport routes, buildings will increasingly need to be built or retrofitted to reduce the effect of nearby traffic noise. This can be done through improving insulation of walls and/or windows.
Double glazing windows is one of the most effective barriers against unwanted outside sound, and when combined with uPVC window frames, can reduce perceived noise by up to 80 percent, or as much as 45 decibels.
The science of noise abatement is based upon the interruption of noise travelling from the noise source to a particular receptor, for example the most exposed façade of a nearby building. Sound is measured in Decibels (dB) with a logarithmic unit, such that a 20dB noise is actually 10 times louder than a 10dB noise. Therefore, reducing noise by as much as 45 decibels will have a huge impact on your peace and quiet at home or in your office.
It sounds simple, but the requirements for effective, acoustic insulation are demanding. An effective acoustic barrier needs to be a continuous face to the noise source with certified sound transmission loss capabilities. Double glazing achieves this by accommodating a variety of glass thickness and types allowing the window unit to reach high acoustic control requirements. Using two (or more) layers of glazing increases noise reduction at most frequencies, but by how much also depends on the space between the two panes. Sound insulation is improved further with larger air spaces between the glazing units, from about 20 to 100 mm. Combine this double-glazing with an effective barrier frame material such as uPVC and excellent acoustic insulation is provided by the whole window unit.
uPVC windows can be readily retrofitted to provide an effective, low maintenance yet highly durable noise barrier. Ongoing exposure to loud noises – like outside traffic, overhead planes or noisy neighbours – can continually disrupt concentration and increase general stress levels. Noise reductions of up to 40-45dB may improve sleep, decrease stress, improve a work environment and concentration, and add re-sale value to your home.
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.