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Timber Windows for Green Buildings

June 17th, 2013

When renovating an old, historic, or period building it is still important to use green materials and green construction methods. The windows are a major part of the building, so it is critical to ensure that you choose the right type of windows for a green building renovation. Timber window frames are a significantly better choice when compared to vinyl, UPVC windows.

The most difficult part of renovating any historic building is maintaining the classic design and period look of the original building. Windows are generally quite indicative of the period that a building is from, so when replacing the windows it is very important to pay attention to the finer details in the windows design. Even a small change could mean the difference between whether a building appears to be from the seventeenth century or the twenty first century.

A historic building that retains its traditional appearance is far more sought after than one with obvious and unsympathetic alterations. This is a large part of why timber windows are the best option for replacing the windows in any period building. Anything else simply looks out of place and awkward.

UPVC windows in particular are unsuitable for traditional homes because they have a glossy finish and a larger frame than traditional windows, making for a clunky and obtrusive appearance. Even worse, they frequently need to be replaced, making them a less green and sustainable option.

One argument that some might use in favour of modern windows is that the thermal insulation of modern windows is greater and they can help you conserve energy. This might seem like a reasonable argument, but it ultimately does not hold up to scrutiny.

The main problem is that the windows are really not where most of the heat is lost in historic period buildings. In fact, most of the heat tends to escape through the roof and the chimney. The amount of money saved on energy costs by switching over to a double glazing UPVC window is lost on the fact that the windows will need to be replaced much more frequently. This constant replacement ultimately contributes to an even larger carbon footprint as well. A modern timber window created with high quality glass and treated wood will minimize your heat loss and energy costs while still maintaining a gorgeous period building.

Timber windows not only look much better and more natural on a period building, but they are also produced using far more sustainable materials and methods. Producing timber windows utilizes less energy than producing uPVC windows. Another danger that uPVC windows pose to the environment is the hazardous chemicals companies use when manufacturing the windows. Since UPVC windows need to be replaced far more frequently than timber windows, this is a concern.

There is a large expenditure of energy on replacing UPVC windows, cutting, shaping, and transporting them. When timber windows are properly maintained, they can last for centuries on historic properties. Many period homes still have their original timber windows installed.

Laura Kay writes for George Barnsdale & Sons, manufacturers of timber windows and doors. For more information on the use of sustainable timber in window manufacture visit: http://www.georgebarnsdale.co.uk/environment/certified-timber/

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