Recycle wooden window frames – The Hindu

Check the base material, paint and accessories to ensure you have an eco-friendly home

Check the base material, paint and accessories to ensure you have an eco-friendly home

An architectural feature that has always fascinated me is the “window” in its multiple types and forms. Windows allow us to open up and connect to the outside world, bring in natural light and ventilation and at the same time add an interesting aesthetic to a building. When designed well, they can be one of a building’s most expressive features.

The word “window” comes from the Old Norse word – vindauga – vindr “wind” and auga “eye”. They are the eyes of a building.

Traditionally, in India, wood and stone were used to create different types of windows. The use of glass in window shutters (the operable part of a window) was first introduced by the Romans around 100 AD. Although these were not transparent and could only be made in smaller pieces. ‘Shoji’ (paper) screens originated in China around the 8th century and were used in Japan and Korea in window shutters. In England, animal horn was used before glass took over in the early 17th century.

What works for you?

Apart from shutters, frames were mostly made of wood until the early 20th century when steel and aluminum became possible options. Today, a wide range of materials such as wood, UPVC, steel, and aluminum are available for frames, making it difficult to choose. Generally, cost and aesthetics are the determining factors in selection. However, today we must include another key factor when choosing: environmental sustainability.

From an environmental point of view, it is possible to evaluate these materials on the basis of the following factors: intrinsic carbon or global warming potential (quantity of greenhouse gases emitted during production), embodied energy (energy consumed during its manufacturing), recycling potential (amount of material that can be recycled), thermal transmission (amount of heat that can be transferred through the material).

1. New wood: Although wood in general performs well when it comes to environmental sustainability, including thermal resistance, new wood requires the cutting of trees and is therefore not ideal in the current environmental situation unless the trees are grown. in certified and managed forests. Cutting down trees also results in carbon emissions.

2. Reclaimed wood: There are many places today to buy windows that have been taken down from old buildings during the demolition process. This wood will most likely be of higher quality than what is available today, seasoned well, and will eliminate the need to cut down trees. If the desired size is not readily available, these old wooden frames can be reworked to custom sizes.

3.UPVC: Relatively new to the market compared to others, unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (UPVC) windows are popular today for their rigidity, thermal and weather resistance, and relatively low cost. They are also waterproof and low maintenance compared to other materials. It is fully recyclable and relatively low in carbon and embodied energy.

4. Aluminum: Popular for its relatively low cost and recyclability, however, aluminum performs poorly when it comes to thermal transmittance, embodied carbon, and embodied energy.

5. Steel: Offering high strength and durability, steel windows are a good option. It compares much better than aluminum in terms of embodied carbon, embodied energy and thermal transmittance. It is, however, prone to corrosion, which makes it difficult to maintain in areas along the coast.

To conclude, reclaimed wood window frames do not require any manufacturing leading to zero embodied carbon and embodied energy and would therefore rank among the best in terms of environmental sustainability. However, it is imperative to choose non-toxic paints to finish these frames as otherwise they will lead to carbon emissions.

The writer is the founder of Green Evolution, a sustainable architecture agency.