Brighton and Hove City Council issue positive news for PVC

July has been a great month so far for the reputation of our industry with independent research and environmentally responsible clients recognising the sustainable benefits of PVC. Following the BRE’s Green Guide award of an A+ rating for  UPVC cladding and its installed components, Brighton and Hove City Council have announced a U-turn on a potential ban on PVC in its construction.

The Housing Management Sub-Committee has recommended Officers continue with the current flexible approach, determining for each project the most appropriate materials taking account of up to date environmental issues and knowledge, residents’ requirements and building maintenance costs. The Council attributes this environmentally responsible decision to independent research findings include the European Union commission’s Life Cycle Assessment of PVC and Principal Competing Materials which states: “there is no “winner” in terms of a preferable material” and “therefore the choice of material is of rather minor importance.” On the issue of windows, the Council also states that “There is no clear evidence that the environmental impact of the use of timber in replacement window frames is presently lower than the impact of UPVC. Some evidence would suggest that PVC has better prospects for recycling, and that PVC products also provide better thermal insulation performance.”

What is of importance though are whole life costings and the Council highlights the financial benefits of PVC over timber in this case. It states that specification of timber windows would add about £8.5 million to its five year major works programme, and £22 million to the 30 year housing business plan. It adds the capital and revenue costs applicable to material selection must form an important part of decision making. Brighton and Hove has been progressively reducing the revenue requirement for redecoration of external parts of homes through specification of products that do not require painting. The Council admits that “Reintroduction of the requirement for regular painting will progressively increase annual revenue costs to an estimated £1.2 million.”

Tony Crutcher, Sales and Marketing Director Kestrel comments on this significant development: “I applaud Brighton and Hove for taking what I can only describe as the sustainably responsible decision in terms of environmental impact and whole life costings.

"On its own admission, the Council notes that it has been relying on old information. It also acknowledges that information and research has been superseded by developments in materials recycling. The cost benefits of using next generation UPVC building materials have been well recognised among public and private sector specifiers.

"As an example, in its own release, Brighton and Hove show in units how using PVC rainwater systems is £100 less than aluminium and how UPVC windows are more than 50% less than their timber counterparts. For me, though, the most significant part of this development is the Council’s public endorsement of the environmentally friendly credentials of PVC in building. I hope more local authorities and housing associations across the UK take note of this development and ensure that they are working with the most up to date information to make informed decisions to future proof their specifications.”