Glass for Europe calls on Member States to develop specific roadmaps for replacing single and early uncoated double glazing.
Windows replacement ticks all the boxes of the recovery fund: relaunching the economy in a sector deeply impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, creating jobs, delivering energy efficiency e CO2 cuts, improving EU citizen lives (e.g. energy poverty). Member States should be encouraged to allocate part of the Recovery Fund to finance building renovation and window replacement.
To prevent business from failing and keep the flat glass value-chain afloat, it is essential to safeguard a minimum level of activity in window and glazing replacement. While designing their national recovery plans, European governments should incorporate measures to incite consumers to upgrade their windows and glazing. This will not only generate long-lasting CO2 cuts that will support the transition toward climate-neutrality, but will also meet citizen expectations of a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.
Glass for Europe calls on Member States to develop specific roadmaps for replacing single and early uncoated double glazing. Minimum energy-performance criteria should at the basis of these retrofitting plans, as only the installation of the best performing products available on the market would guarantee the energy and CO2 savings Europe needs to meet its climate objectives.
Glass for Europe and its partners across Europe stand ready to engage in a dialogue with authorities willing to design plans to boost window and glazing retrofitting. Several policy instruments, ranging from retrofitting in social housing to tax rebates, etc. can be designed depending on existing schemes
and national circumstances.
Beyond the market support, Glass for Europe and its partners are convinced that any support plan must be tied to minimum energy-performance criteria to ensure that installed products deliver energy and CO2 savings to contribute to the fight
against climate change.
TO SUPPORT RECOVERY IN THE SECTOR
The glazing and window industries have been severely hit by the COVID-19 crisis. After the cessation of activities for several months, the industry is now confronted to a massive drop in new construction projects. In addition, historically low activity levels of minus 30 to 50% are observed on the largest market segment; i.e. residential window and glazing replacement. Due to consumers’ health preoccupations and their lack of confidence for the short and middle terms, demand levels are expected to remain very low for many months and several years to come.
Throughout the industry, many small and medium size enterprises as well as larger firms are at serious risks of bankruptcy: glass manufacturers, transporters, processors, insulated glass unit fabricators, window manufacturers, glaziers and installers. Several thousands of jobs across Europe are at risk. It is in fact the complete glazing value-chain that could be profoundly disorganised, while the sector is strategic for the sustainable future of the construction industry.
To maintain this industry value-chain afloat, it is essential that a minimum level of activity in window and glazing replacement is ensured. National recovery plans need to incorporate measures to incite consumers to upgrade their windows and glazing.
TO MAKE A NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE IN PEOPLE’S QUALITY OF LIFE
In uncertain times, citizens are often looking for reassurance, additional comfort and ‘safe’ investments, when they can afford to invest. Upgrading one’s home and property by installing new windows that will generate more property value, more safety and a more comfortable, healthy and healing indoor space, is responding to these consumers’ expectations.
Policy measures that will support window and glazing retrofitting are therefore likely to be well accepted and used by the population. These measures are understandable, concrete and can be made accessible to most while responding to citizens’ desire for improved quality of life.
Low consumer-confidence needs to be overcome and this is where policy has a role to play. With an adequate plan and subsequent financial support to window retrofitting, investments barriers can be lifted and the glazing and window industries supported through this crisis.
TO GENERATE LONG-LASTING CO2 SAVINGS AND MOVE TOWARDS CLIMATE-NEUTRALITY
An effective plan to retrofit windows and glazing in ageing buildings is also a climate-friendly measure that ticks all the boxes of a sustainable and green recovery plan.
High-performance glazing, which are readily available, are net CO2 avoidance products: the carbon emitted for their production is offset in only 3 to 6 months by the CO2 savings they generate in buildings. A recent study shows that doubling the windows’ replacement rate over the next 10 years with adequate glazing specifications will reduce by 14% the projected energy consumption and CO2 emissions from our buildings. Since windows stay on buildings for 40 to 50 years, the CO2 savings will be long-lasting and cumulative over-time!
Setting a dedicated roadmap for replacing single glazed and early uncoated double-glazed windows with adequately specified high-performance glazing is an indispensable economic recovery measure. It is also a good way to bolster renovation of buildings and to achieve our energy and climate plans in line with our EU’s commitments.
PRIORITISING HIGH-PERFORMANCE GLAZING
The main functions of windows and facades are to let daylight into buildings and to ensure a visual connection with the exterior. As elements of the building envelope,
high-performance windows contribute to the insulation of buildings. Additionally, the transparency of glazing offers a unique feature to windows, that is to manage solar energy that heats interior and minimizes energy demand.
It stems from this unique feature, that the assessment of the energy performance of glazing cannot be solely based on the insulation property, i.e. the thermal transmittance (U-value), as it disregards the substantial energy impact of solar heat gains. In order to ensure a proper assessment of the energy performance of windows, heat gains (g-value) have to be considered and balanced with heat losses (u-value), to both minimize heating demand and limit cooling needs.