Repair; Refurb; Retrofit

Sustainable Construction: Restore before replace

Sustainability is rapidly moving up the agenda within the construction industry, and more businesses than ever are taking responsibility for their own environmental impact. The repair and manufacture of windows is no exception, with fenestration companies recognising a need to source sustainable materials, reduce waste and decrease their carbon footprint.

The environmental impact of windows extends way beyond a contribution to the energy efficiency of a building. Maintenance and repair of windows and frames, source of materials and manufacturing methods all contribute.


The UK has an abundance of period homes and listed buildings with sash windows that require constant repair and maintenance to ensure energy efficiency, security, and retained value of the property. As a result, the approaches taken to preserving these windows can have a significant impact on the environment, from the materials and products used, to the overall supply chain.

When a sash window is damaged, replacement of the full frame is often a preferred approach over repair of the original, usually due to lack of skills and expertise, or because businesses make more money on manufacturing and replacing the whole window. However, with an average only 5% of the whole window frame being affected by damage, such as rotting, the waste associated with replacing the whole frame is quite shocking! Furthermore, many businesses will replace sash windows with newer uPVC versions which not only have a higher environmental cost due to the plastic materials used, but also can’t be repainted, so in the event of any damage or decay, would need to be completely replaced. uPVC windows are difficult to recycle and often go into landfill where they take over 100 years to decompose, and let’s not mention the impact of switching timber for plastics on the aesthetics of the building!

Working with companies that approach window damage with a restore first policy is vital to reduce overall waste. Using carefully sourced wood fillers and specialist techniques, it is possible to strip back and treat only that damaged 5%, eliminating waste and ensuring a strong energy efficient window for years to come. After all timber windows can last as long as the building if treated correctly!


In some cases, a timber sash window can’t be repaired and restored, in which case how can we make sure replacement is as ethical as possible?

When it comes to timber frame windows, any homeowner or contractor should be aware of the source of the materials being used. Timber that is sourced appropriately and accredited to FSC standards ensures that the wood comes from responsibly managed forests which protects ecosystems and reduces the impact on climate change.


Whether repairing or replacing, treatment of the wood with paints and stains is necessary to preserve the windows. However, paints and stains often contain solvents that are harmful to the environment. Businesses must ensure they are using environmentally friendly products in the treatment of windows, from resins to paints.

Sourcing and using the right materials, and educating and upskilling tradesmen to produce a product that lasts, is imperative to ensuring this industry minimises their overall impact on the environment.


IWP Dansk are leading experts in the preservation, restoration, and replacement of bespoke & heritage windows. The company approach every project they work on with a ‘restore before replace’ attitude, aiming to repair and restore wherever possible. In 1982, IWP Dansk became the main UK distributor for a range of unique wood repair products and since then they have amassed a great deal of experience in the repair, maintenance, and conservation of existing timber joinery.

When restoration isn’t an option, IWP Dansk ensure all of their timber is sustainably sourced and FSC approved. They manufacture all their timber frame windows in the UK, using local suppliers, which not only ensures flexibility but also minimises their carbon footprint substantially.

An example of their sustainable approach is apparent from work they did on award winning Mappin Street at the University of Sheffield. The ‘Engineering Heartspace project’, commissioned to Interserve Construction, involved connecting two of Sheffield University’s oldest buildings via a high-ceilinged glass atrium that would provide the University with around 125,000sq ft of combined new build, refurbished and reconfigured existing space.

As part of the refurbishment they sympathetically upgraded the original sash windows to improve thermal performance whilst ensuring the original design was maintained. The client was told by all other subcontractors within the tender process that the project would require the complete replacement of all windows. However, IWP Dansk were able to provide a refurbishment service that not only saved the client huge costs, but also helped prevent the waste of over 100 windows and the use of timber in what would have otherwise been a replacement job.


TEL: 01924 220077 35


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