But, warns Mike Butterick, GLASSOLUTIONS’ marketing director who has led the innovative development programme, there are further hurdles to be crossed before the real potential can be realised.The GGF which has praised the pioneering work of the GLASSOLUTIONS team, is now working closely with GLASSOLUTIONS SAINT-GOBAIN to deliver the performance evidence which will potentially unlock funding for glazing replacement in homes across the country.Mike Butterick explains: “The general feeling has been that so far Green Deal and ECO provide little advantage to the window industry.However, we remain committed to driving new business for our customers and the industry as a whole. So we have invested time and energy into exploring and finding new opportunities. We’ve engaged positively with key stakeholders such as DECC and Ofgem to find the kind of cost-effective energy performance improvements which will both save householders on fuel bills and reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.
“Our research has demonstrated that by using the latest generation of glass products significant carbon savings can be made, and by using ECO funding and Green Deal finance the window industry can contribute to the government’s energy efficiency targets.”
There are several million homes in the UK with ‘G’ rated double-glazed windows that were fitted prior to 2002, before the building regulations were changed to require better thermal performance. Sometimes, points out Mike Butterick, it doesn’t make sense to replace the entire window frame; instead the option exists to upgrade the performance of the window by replacing the glass sealed-unit.
He says: “With our EcoClear sealed-units which feature Planitherm glass from SAINT-GOBAIN, achieving the equivalent performance of an ‘A’ rated window is possible even with an older frame design – and in future it could be financed through ECO.
“The very process of identifying frames where glazing upgrade is a suitably effective route to improved performance will also put the spotlight on the millions of frames where glazing replacement alone will not achieve the necessary improvements. By highlighting the need for full frame replacement it will provide a much-needed business boost for fabricators and installers alike.”
ECO places obligations on energy companies requiring them to generate a specific amount of credit by facilitating the installation of energy efficiency measures in homes in Great Britain before a set deadline. ECO has been designed to work alongside the Green Deal framework to provide support where Green Deal finance alone is not enough.
The challenge now is to validate the evidence base on which the ECO funding for glazing upgrade programme can be released. GLASSOLUTIONS SAINT-GOBAIN has teamed up with the GGF and others to fund the research.
Nigel Rees from the GGF acknowledges the significance of the work so far undertaken by GLASSOLUTIONS. He says: “This is potentially a fantastic boost that the industry needed and we praise GLASSOLUTIONS for their innovative approach and foresight. The next step is for the GGF to work with the BRE to validate the research to date with an objective to revise the official modelling software Rd:SAP, so the tool that can be used by the whole industry to deliver better insulated homes and reduce carbon emissions. It is an exciting opportunity for the industry and we are pleased to be providing our support.”
Says Mike Butterick: “It is still early days yet and there is still much work to be done. While we are working with the GGF and BRE to provide the evidence for the benefits we are confident the concept will deliver, we continue to invest significant resources into parallel research which will give GLASSOLUTIONS customers a definitive edge when the time is right. As a major worldwide force in the glazing sector, we are committed to providing this level of support, in terms of market development, for our customers and we are uniquely resourced to do it.”