Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Greening my home dilemma 1

I posted at the beginning of the month about the London Green Homes Concierge Service doing an energy survey of my flat. Since then they have been finding out more info for me, arranging quotes etc. Today someone from a sash window company came to give me quotes for renovating/draught-proofing/replacing my windows. I was expecting the quote to be v high, and indeed it was. While my front bay windows, which are the original 1900 wooden sash windows are in surprisingly good nick, and could be either just draught-proofed or retrofitted with double glazing without replacing the whole thing, my bedroom and back room French windows and sash windows are rotting and need replacing. The guy who did the quote seemed pretty thorough and knowledgeable.

However, I hadn't quite expected his answer when I asked about where the wood was sourced from. I had expected/hoped him to say 'it's all FSC certified'. How wrong I was. Apparently they use a wood called utile, which is similar to mahoghany and he said it comes from South America (although when I looked it up in the Good Wood Guide it said it comes from West Africa). They said they go to 'extensive lengths' to ensure it is sustainably procured, but I would like a bit more proof.

He also said the reason they couldn't use UK-sourced wood was because China is buying up all the British oak for their construction projects so they buy from South America. He said they could get French Oak, but it would cost 8-10% more. I think the world economy has gone mad when it's cheaper for us to get tropical hardwood from South America/Africa than to get oak from within the UK. So now I have something of a dilemma - I want to do the green thing and a) improve the energy efficiency of my home and b) get wooden rather than UPVC windows, but I don't want to use wood that has been unsustainably sourced. I'll get at least one more quote before making a decision, but meanwhile does anyone know of a reputable company that does double-glazed wooden sash windows made of FSC-certified wood?!

It isn't as easy as it should be being green . . .

5 comments:

Pete said...

As I said last night there are a few local companies that can make sash windows and I'm sure that you could get them to use FSC wood if that is what you wanted. In fact I don't see why this shouldn't be the case for all manufacturers. If you want them to use FSC certified wood then they ought to be able to accomodate your wishes. Try the company up in Deptford/Greenwich that I mentioned and see what they say.

Adrian Windisch said...

Also look at secondary glazing or insulating shutters. Looking up fsc sash windows on the internet gets a few hits, try http://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/ecoplus-specialorders.php, http://www.fsc-uk.org/product-search/?outlet=649&product=1146&categoryId=0&custom=consumer&locationId=101&p-search=Search,
www.freeindex.co.uk/profile(Willowside-Joinery-Ltd)_30619.htm

Sue Luxton said...

Thanks Adrian, unfortunately, secondary glazing isn't an option for most of my windows, with the possible exception of the front bay, as the wood is rotting and they need replacing. Rest assured I won't be going for the tropical hardwood option and am getting further quotes!

Solar Panels said...

Hello. This post is very good and varied I think the double glazing guide can help. We have just approved advanced double glazing of their new vertical sliding sash window range which will enhance many home owners homes and keep the traditional look of their original sash windows. Advanced do wood sash windows as well as pvcu, however wooden sash windows are double the cost of upvc. But go visit them and see for your self. Advanced Double Glazing.

JT said...

After reading your post, I was going to suggest looking at the Green Building Store, but see that one of your posters already mentioned it. It's not secondary glazing, although not sure if this will help, but they are pretty helpful people and could give you an answer quickly.
http://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/ecoplus-windows.php