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EXTERNAL ENVELOPE


Fibreglass frames are created in a process that consumes just 70 W per linear metre


DESIGN POSSIBILITIES


Fibreglass opens up a world of possibilities due to its strength and stablility, which enable it to hold large surface areas of glass


If the windows need replacing, they can simply be shredded into sections and then mixed with concrete and asphalt to deliver a lightweight, strong and crack and shrink- resistant composite material – a process that requires very low energy to carry out.


Designing out compromise


In terms of design, fibreglass opens up a world of possibilities due to its strength and stability, which enable it to “hold” large surface areas of glass, bypassing the need to produce and fit specialist structural glass.


From the perspective of an architect, fibreglass frames support more adventur- ous designs that would previously have been prohibitive due to the cost associated with incorporating bespoke glazing solutions. Not only that, but fibreglass also expands in line with window glass, remov- ing the need for unsightly gaskets to hold the pane in place, adding aesthetic value to a building.


Perhaps one of the most striking features of a fibreglass frame is that, despite weigh- ing half that of aluminium, it is exceptionally hard-wearing, highly rot and corrosion resistant, and delivers a much longer life cycle than PVC and aluminium. In fact, it is these factors that have under- pinned the material’s success in parts of Europe and Canada, countries that were quick to adopt fibreglass to counteract the weather-related erosion that affects window frames in coastal regions or areas of harsh climates. In addition, reducing the maintenance associated with repainting – or even replac-


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ing – windows would not only cut costs for specifiers but also help enhance and regenerate a locality.


Futureproofing the UK


The case for fibreglass is not exclusive to coastal towns or high-spec residential properties or office blocks, but also applies to the wider housing market.


A House of Lords report created by the Select Committee on Economic Affairs entitled ‘Building More Homes’ concluded that the Government’s target of one million new homes by 2020 will not be enough. More importantly, it put forward the case that in order to address the housing crisis, at least 300,000 new homes are needed annually for the foreseeable future. This is by no means an insignificant amount; if the industry is to meet this target then the annual window footprint alone would be considerable and the volume of plastic and aluminium required quite daunting. Given the renewed focus on sustainabil- ity underpinned by Government’s objective to reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, it’s the right time for the industry to embrace new approaches to window frames and consider their role in contributing towards sustainable environments. While the technology exists, the challenge now is to innovate by making fibreglass windows a standard component within the built environment in order to improve the sustainability credentials of present and future buildings.


Neil Puttock is managing director of Boavista Windows


ADF JUNE 2017


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