How Do uPVC Windows Help With Passive Design?
uPVC windows have recently taken a starring role in sustainable design and the construction of Passive Houses.
Their thermal insulation properties, air tightness, and ability to control solar heat gain make them valuable components in creating energy-efficient and comfortable indoor environments.
Additionally, uPVC windows contribute to noise reduction, require minimal maintenance, and offer long-term durability. By integrating uPVC windows with other passive design elements, such as proper orientation, insulation, and natural ventilation, buildings can achieve enhanced energy efficiency and occupant comfort without relying heavily on mechanical systems.
Thermotek windows and doors are engineered in Germany and manufactured locally in Australia, crafted for outstanding thermal performance and energy efficiency. The design focuses on heat insulation, statics, and sealing. When it comes to manufacturing sustainable windows and doors, we use uPVC.
Let’s take a deeper look at why we use uPVC as a sustainable material and how Thermotek’s window and door systems can help architects and builders achieve passive design…
What exactly is uPVC comprised of?
Most people are familiar with PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. It’s been prevalent for decades in construction and manufacturing and is a highly flexible type of plastic that can be harnessed in everything from cable wiring to clothing.
The problem comes in its composition. The chloride in polyvinyl chloride is 43% ethylene, a by-product of oil.
The oil industry is responsible for huge emissions of carbon dioxide, which is a dangerous greenhouse gas and a key driver of climate change. Continuing to make new PVC products will have a serious impact on the planet.
That’s where uPVC comes in.
uPVC is ‘Unplasticised’ polyvinyl chloride. No chemical plasticisers are used to make it. Instead, uPVC consists of strong, tough impact modifiers and fillers.
It’s strong and versatile as a construction material, with long, spaghetti-like polymers that twist around each other during manufacture to strengthen the material. Impact modifiers are then added to bind the strands together well.
This means that anything made from uPVC – such as the window and door frames manufactured by Thermotek – is extra tough.
uPVC gets stronger with each use.
Recycled products can often exhibit superior strength compared to new materials. In the case of uPVC, it actually becomes stronger when recycled.
uPVC is up to 6% stronger when it’s recycled the first time. The next four or five times it’s recycled, it will still get stronger but by a gradually decreasing amount. This means that uPVC windows and doors could potentially become stronger and more durable for over 300 years.
All of this makes uPVC an incredibly hardy material that’s perfect for passive house windows.
Its surface hardness is equal to aluminium, which makes it an ideal material for windows and doors. It’s also BPA-free and non-toxic, which is why it is being harnessed for medical equipment.
What are the fundamentals of passive design?
Passive Houses were developed in Germany in the 1990s and have been adopted internationally as a gold standard of sustainable design.
The ultimate goal of passive design is to reduce the energy consumption of a building to a minimum and provide a comfortable living environment for the occupants.
Certified Passive Houses take a ‘fabric first’ approach, allowing the building envelope and construction materials to do the work and establish both energy efficiency and indoor comfort.
When a house meets all the criteria of the Australian Passive House Association, it should achieve an indoor comfort band of 20-25°C with no more than 10% of the year exceeding 25°C. It also includes limits on humidity.
Key components of a Passive House are its insulation and airtightness, which helps to keep the heat inside during winter and out during summer.
The building is also designed to be airtight to prevent drafts and leaks, which can be a major source of energy waste. It minimises thermal bridges and ventilation systems are also used to bring fresh air into the building and to remove moisture.
To summarise, a Certified Passive House has five key elements:
- Appropriate insulation and mitigation of thermal bridges
- High-performance windows such as those manufactured by Thermotek
- Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery
How do uPVC window and door systems promote passive design and energy efficiency?
The benefits of uPVC window and door frames lie in their remarkable ability to significantly enhance energy efficiency and thermal comfort within your home.
uPVC possesses exceptional insulation properties, ensuring a cool environment in summer and cosy warmth during winter.
Unlike aluminium frames – which need to be thermally broken to be sustainable – uPVC frames do not conduct heat. This means they effectively prevent high temperatures from entering your home during summer, reducing the reliance on air conditioning. In fact, when combined with double or triple glazing, uPVC frames can potentially eliminate the need for air conditioning altogether!
The uPVC utilised in products like the Thermotek Eco Series offers excellent thermal insulation properties, while the insulated glass units (IGUs) incorporate standard Low-E glazing with argon gas, further enhancing energy efficiency.
In addition to superior thermal performance, Thermotek windows and doors ensure an airtight seal against air, wind, and rain. Their innovative locking mechanism and high-quality sealing, free of brushes, contribute to the overall airtightness of the window-door systems. Furthermore, the stable concealed hardware of Thermotek products requires minimal maintenance, providing added convenience and durability.
With uPVC frames from Thermotek, you can enjoy enhanced energy efficiency, optimal thermal comfort, and reduced maintenance, all while creating an airtight and weather-resistant haven.
What about uPVC and low embodied emissions for passive design?
Embodied energy or emissions is the total amount of energy consumed for the construction of a window or door. It encompasses the energy required to mine, harvest, manufacture, transport, and install a window.
Passive Houses in Australia also require building materials with low embodied emissions that can withstand Australia’s harsh climate.
uPVC is 100% recyclable and sustainable, as well as being low maintenance and easy to install, reducing energy usage.
All Thermotek windows and doors employ low-waste manufacturing techniques. These techniques ensure minimal material wastage during production, thereby reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability and passive design.
Are uPVC windows and doors suitable for the Australian climate?
All materials expand and contract in response to temperature changes – however, uPVC exhibits excellent heat resistance.
Thermotek’s thermal expansion tests on uPVC profiles demonstrate how they perform when subjected to heat. In this test, our profiles are placed in an industrial hot-air oven set at 100 degrees Celsius for one hour. The results reveal that our profiles remain intact, showcasing their heat resistance.
Furthermore, our uPVC profiles are capable of withstanding fire exposure of up to 400 degrees Celsius. We have conducted BAL-40 (Bushfire Attack Level) tests on our products, which assess their performance under specific wind conditions, namely a wind speed of 40 km/hr. Thermotek’s windows and doors have been tested and are compliant with BAL-40 standards.
In addition to heat and fire resistance, uPVC windows and doors demonstrate remarkable resistance to high winds. Thermotek uPVC products undergo rigorous wind speed testing of up to 200 km/hr. This makes them a secure choice for Australian coastal areas, where the average wind speed can reach 50 km/hr.
Another advantage of uPVC is its ability to withstand salinity, moisture, fungus, and rust without the need for additional weatherproofing measures. uPVC door and window frames exhibit exceptional resistance to chemical erosion, as well as preventing moisture build-up and mould growth.
Given the intense heat and rain experienced during the Australian summer, this quality becomes crucial as it ensures that uPVC windows and doors do not rust, fade, or peel.
Thermotek windows and doors are subjected to testing under harsh temperature conditions to ensure that fading does not occur.
Finally, why choose uPVC over other sustainable materials?
It all comes down to how uPVC is made, plus how its superior insulative qualities make it an excellent choice for building a truly energy-efficient home.
We’ve ruled out timber, as we believe that we need to increase the number of trees in the world for a better planet, not eat up more. That’s why we introduced the Thermotree of Life Program. For every order, we plant a tree on our client’s behalf.
We also believe that, while aluminium has its merits when it comes to longevity and durability, it’s expensive and also feeds into the fossil fuel cycle. We’re all about recycling assets that already exist – that’s why we choose to use uPVC.
uPVC is also more cost-effective than thermally broken aluminium, allowing architects and builders to install sustainable window and door systems within budget.
The Thermotek Eco Series 3000 windows and door system is an affordable solution when it comes to constructing sustainable property projects.
The system is produced from the global German design and engineered 3-chamber Ideal 2000 uPVC profile by Aluplast. The streamlined 60mm profile is fully insulated with a dual seal frame that caters for a wide range of opening configurations.
Make a stylish and sustainable choice with Thermotek.
You also don’t need to compromise style for sustainability when it comes to uPVC.
The Thermotek Boutique Series 5000 windows and doors system not only offers superior energy efficiency – it also offers design flexibility and is available in a range of beautiful Architectural and Woodgrain colours.
Contact us today to learn more about how our uPVC window and door systems are the best choice for stylish Passive Houses and other sustainable building projects.