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Make room on the ‘green’ bandwagon for windows

bandwagaon for windows. So what's your carbon footprint?

May 11, 2008  By John Roper

So, what’s your carbon footprint? Mine’s about size 10 UK size. I must
not joke, it is a serious subject. We are all being admonished to
reduce our carbon footprint.

So, what’s your carbon footprint? Mine’s about size 10 UK size. I must not joke, it is a serious subject. We are all being admonished to reduce our carbon footprint. Our former prime minister, Tony Blair managed to zero his after the tricky questions about his frequent flying down to Italy for his vacation. We must not drive, especially big cars. We must not fly, especially on discount airlines though it seems okay to fly on the big expensive airlines.

Do I detect a lobby here or is it just that the cheap guys allow the rabble to get to the nice resorts where Tony and his friends go? And carbon trading, what’s that all about? When I flew to Canada in the summer, I could have paid someone to plant a tree on my behalf to offset the carbon I created by flying. Huh? I own a shovel; I can plant my own tree thank you very much.

So who else can we get on this particular bandwagon?


Well the latest thing in the UK is energy rated windows. A whole new industry has sprung up to tell us what to do and how to do it. We now have an ‘authority’ with the grand title: The British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC). Sundry test facilities to test windows for the BFRC to approve have sprung up and there are countless consultants to advise not one of whom has ever actually made a window, of course. Now, the perception is that, if you want to compete in the market, every window needs to carry an energy sticker, like domestic appliances. And every manufacturer wants its windows to be ‘A’ rated. You would be astonished how many ‘First’ ‘A’ rated windows have been released and the press handouts making these claims still arrive daily.

Now don’t get me wrong. Climate change is a serious issue. It must be. The prime minister says so. Whole committees of MPs say so. The green lobby is absolutely fuming on the subject. There is so much hot air about that, if they all shut up it would probably solve the problem instantly. Oh, and I do note that no one has commented on the degree to which all of the ordnance exploding in Iraq and Afghanistan has contributed to the problem. Join a lobby for ‘green war’ anyone?

They always told me if you want to find the answer ‘follow the buck’. Who is making money out of it? Who stands to gain? Well the window industry is trying to with all of those ‘A’ rated windows. The problem is that while all of the experts and authorities are advising, testing and approving – for pretty big bucks I think someone forgot to tell the public. I mean, they tell me all of the time, but I have never read a single word in the daily press or heard a debate on the radio or TV.

Then there is the tax issue. The industry has been asking the treasury, never ones to miss the opportunity to make a buck, to give us a tax break on energy rated windows, as they do on some household appliances. The best we have so far is the present prime minister, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, trying to get Europe to agree to a reduction in sales tax. As good an example of kicking into touch as I could come up with. Europe, which gets blamed for everything that is evil, has no sway on tax matters. So far, there is no agreement on harmonising taxes, if there were, cigarettes and booze would not cost nearly as much in the UK and we would not have to keep dashing across the channel to Calais whenever stocks get low.

You have to wonder to what extent we are being sold a bill of goods. There is no question the weather is doing strange things and, in any case, we are using carbon based fuels faster than the planet can make them so they are going to run out. I am old enough to remember a scientist and science fiction writer called Fred Hoyle who, along with a number of colleagues, was predicting the next ice age. A very popular theory in its day. Whatever is happening and whether we have caused it or not there is an awful lot riding on global warming, or climate change, as they tend to call it on bad weather days. An awful lot of people stand to make money out of it, aside from it giving those-who-would-control-us loads of ammunition to hector and bully with.

I can’t ignore the fact that the window makers have much to gain if they get it right. Still, we needed something to boost a flagging market. I just hope there is still room on the bandwagon. -end-

*John Roper is editor for The Installer, The Fabricator, The Conservatory Installer and Glass Works magazines published in the UK. His comments reflect opinions from the UK and may not be applicable in Canada.

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