“I don’t know,” Maria said. “I was pretty well convinced to go with vinyl replacement windows, but then my coworker told me they were pretty harsh on the environment. And the vinyl gives off gasses that wrecks the interior air quality.”
Maria’s been misinformed. The production of vinyl replacement windows is actually relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, vinyl is cited by LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as very energy efficient for use in buildings. At the most basic level, vinyl is a combination of salt and petroleum. Vast technological advances have been made to reduce the amount of energy required to transform the salt and petroleum into attractive vinyl replacement windows.
After the window frames are constructed, affixing the glass and hardware requires less energy and labor than either wood or fiberglass replacement windows, yet the quality of vinyl replacement windows is equal or superior to both alternatives.
Finally, vinyl replacement window frames and the scrap vinyl produced during the manufacturing process is recyclable. This is obviously an environmental benefit, reducing the amount of raw materials required for manufacturing.
Vinyl replacement windows are the green option for homeowners looking to upgrade or replace their existing windows.
Finally, about those gasses Maria was worried about. The phenomenon of ‘off gassing’, the natural evaporation of volatile chemicals from a non-metallic source, is most often encountered in paint fumes, or by the experience of opening a new vinyl shower curtain. The scents you encounter potentially carry health hazards.
However, off gassing in vinyl is associated with what are known as plasticizers, a component used to make vinyl more flexible and elastic. Vinyl window frames contain a far lower percentage of plasticizers, and are consistently rated as neutral or as non-sources of off gasses when tested. That’s one thing Maria doesn’t have to worry about — and neither do you.