Windows, Part IV: Vinyl Frames

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Learn about efficient low-E coatings in Part 1 of my series on windows; Part II to compare windows using the NFRC label; and Part III for a look at traditional wood-framed windows.  I’ll now cover windows framed in vinyl.  Vinyl, or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a long-lasting, low-maintenance option, however one should be aware of the “dark side” of PVC.

The manufacturing of PVC is actually quite harmful to the environment and to our health.  Dioxins, highly toxic chemicals, are created during its manufacturing process and also released into the atmosphere upon burning.  Dioxins break down very slowly in the environment and have been classified as probable human carcinogens.  Harmful additives are also used in vinyl, such as heavy metals which act as stabilizers or to give it color; and fungicides.

Less than 1% of PVC is recycled because it is neither technically nor financially feasible.  Even when it is recycled, toxic additives must be used to restabalize it.

So, even though vinyl-framed windows do not require painting and have good moisture resistance, there may be more eco-friendly alternatives, such as sustainably-harvested wood.  Stay tuned for the remaining blog posts about the characteristics of aluminum, composite, and fiberglass window frames.

Sources:  Illinois Dept of Health and GreenPeace International

photo courtesy of Gorell Windows & Doors

Tag(s): Green Building, Greening the Home, Hazardous Products / Health Issues, The Great Green Outdoors


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