Hot on the heels of the ground-breaking work with Heriot Watt University to underpin the sustainable credentials of timber windows, the Wood Window Alliance (WWA) has completed a feasibility study for a typical wooden window frame against the Materials Health elements of the stringent Cradle to Cradle Certified™ standard. The WWA worked with SGS Search (Amsterdam) through parent organisation the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).
The feasibility study, available to download from the WWA website, demonstrates that wood is a healthy option that can easily meet the Silver level of the standard. This paves the way for members to get a full product assessment at a reduced cost, and target gold – or even platinum – standards.
Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) is a design concept that is gaining traction around the globe. C2C is a holistic economic, industrial and social framework that seeks to create systems that are not only efficient but also essentially waste free. In the C2C model, all materials used in industrial or commercial processes fall into one of two categories: ‘technical’ or ‘biological’ nutrients. The ultimate goal is that these materials can be used over and over again instead of being ‘downcycled’ into lesser products, ultimately becoming waste.
Health is a key element of the standard, recognising that many human beings come into contact or consume, directly or indirectly, many harmful materials and chemicals daily. In addition, countless other forms of plant and animal life are also exposed. C2C seeks to remove dangerous technical nutrients (synthetic materials such as mutagenic materials, heavy metals and other dangerous chemicals) from current life cycles. It bans materials, such as PVC, that are identified within the standard as having a high material health risk and need to be phased out.
The process involves identifying the chemical composition of the materials that make up the product. Particularly hazardous materials (e.g. heavy metals, pigments, halogen compounds etc.) have to be reported whatever the concentration, and other materials reported where they exceed 100 ppm. For wood, the forest source is required. The risk for each material is assessed against criteria and eventually ranked on a scale that includes materials of low risk, those with moderate risk but acceptable to continue to use, and banned materials. C2C bans materials such as PVC that are identified within the standard as having high risk and need to be phased out.
Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation, said:
“The process was fascinating to go through and really opens the door to focusing on all elements of composition and how we make our products.
“We will be encouraging our members to follow ourselves and suppliers, such as Teknos, through the process, as it also supports benchmarking and forces you to think carefully about all your decisions – really it is a natural extension of our life cycle assessment work and categorically shows that wood windows are the healthy choice.”