Marketing Sustainability

Aluminium windows and sustainability

Sustainability has been a dominant factor in innovation and development in the fenestration industry in the past few years – but we also need to consider how that message is being conveyed to the consumer and how to clearly demonstrate why it matters, writes Reynaers’ Sam Hill.

With improved thermal requirements being driven by Part L of the building regulations and corporate social and environmental goals, manufacturers have embraced the need for change.

Reynaers Aluminium prides itself on taking a progressive stance in demonstrating its commitment to sustainability in the operation of the company and in the products we create. We have communicated that widely, yet we still need to look at how this message is being heard in the marketplace.

The strides we have taken in reducing U-values, cutting embodied carbon, and bringing in ‘Cradle to Cradle’ products, needs to be translated to the consumer – and the benefits clearly conveyed, especially if performance comes at a premium. Value is always going to be a key consideration but so should performance – and within that, environmental performance.


Why does sustainability matter to homeowners?

The bottom line for Reynaers is that we want to help build a better future by playing our part in cutting carbon emissions to help to address climate change. We have demonstrated how we intend to do that in our operations by signing up to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and setting just what our targets are. 

Awareness is growing about the need for sustainability and where we, as a population, can contribute to that, including through the choices we make in our homes. A growing number of people make decisions informed by sustainability. This number will multiply as awareness increases around how our actions and choices have an impact on the environment.


Energy awareness

With enough awareness around how the use of energy in our homes contributes to global carbon emissions, homeowners will increasingly factor this into the choices that they make, yet the direct impact needs clear communication. Consider the automotive industry, in comparison, where very clear connections are made between fuel use and emissions and the impact this has on consumer choice, including the surge in the use of electric vehicles.

Poorly insulated homes need to use more energy to retain a comfortable environment and glazing plays a part in that. According to the Office for National Statistics, residential properties account for 26 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK (Climate Change Insights, Families and Households UK: August 2022). Over half of these emissions are due to the energy used to heat a home.


Translating U-values in real terms

While the industry talks frequently about U-values we also need to demonstrate how important those values are in real terms. Lower U-values means better insulation performance, which in turn means less heat is lost through windows and doors, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature without turning the heating on. This cuts individual emissions but also saves money. We can’t ignore the importance of value to homeowners and developers.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) suggests that around 18 per cent of heat is lost through windows. Therefore, investing in solutions that provide better insulation performance will cut a homeowner’s carbon footprint and help to save money on energy bills.

Savings can be easily demonstrated to the homeowner through the Window Energy Ratings schemes (WERs), such as the one offered by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC), which issues the familiar rainbow-style labels commonly used on household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges. These labels demonstrate applied ratings from an ‘E’ to an ‘A++’.  According to the EST, savings could be up to £180 per year and 410kg of carbon by replacing single glazing with A++ rated windows.


Long lasting

There is also the added value that high performance, sustainable window and door systems can bring to a property. Aluminium is well known for its durability – it is a low maintenance material that is built to last. Choosing aluminium frames that offer superior sustainability credentials is a long-term investment that will help to protect the value of a property.

As sustainability increasingly becomes a priority, home buyers will look more keenly for this to be evident in a property. Windows and doors that have low U-values or highly rated WERs and are built to last lock that value in.


Cutting waste

Similarly, breaking down what Cradle to Cradle means in real terms supports this. Products that can be entirely recycled tap into the heart of sustainability, where waste needs to be minimised and evidence of using recycled products demonstrated. Cradle to Cradle certification demonstrates a long-term commitment to reusing materials to protect the Earth’s resources and cut waste, which again appeals to environmentally minded homeowners.

Reynaers manufactures a number of Cradle to Cradle certified systems, including the inline sliding door MasterPatio, which is an excellent example of what can be achieved while prioritising sustainability. Made with recycled materials it can also achieve Passive House standards of thermal efficiency, enabling its use in projects that are aiming to keep energy use to an absolute minimum by maintaining an almost constant temperature.


Looking to the future

In new build developments the requirements of the market have pushed up standards in thermal efficiency to counter emissions. Homebuyers are looking to save on energy bills but will also be looking to future proof their investment with products that meet the highest standards – including for sustainability.

Likewise, the need to protect against high fuel costs in housing developments is recognised, this has already seen Passive House standard properties built into low-cost housing schemes in areas of the UK, and triple glazing introduced in one-off projects as well as new homes.

 These principles also apply to larger developments such as schools, offices, hospitals and retail units. Sustainable solutions help to build in fuel savings and protect future market appeal.

In renovations, when upgrading a building to improve insulation, or to modernise the windows and doors, it again makes sense to maximise the investment by using products that meet excellent standards of thermal efficiency and that are designed to meet future regulations and consumer demands.

We believe that sustainability shouldn’t be a compromise – through constant innovation and development, windows and doors can continue to raise the bar to make sure buildings are stylish, comfortable and safe without, literally, costing the Earth.


Pictures: Reynaers Aluminium UK has a host of fenestration products that are Cradle to Cradle certified and are highly energy efficient. How do we communicate this to consumers who want to buy into those values?

Article written by Sam Hill
15th May 2024


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