Last month (September 2019) it’s estimated that a record 7.6 million people took to the streets as part of the Global Climate Strike. To date, it’s the largest climate demonstration in history.
There’s certainly no denying that the public are growing more conscious about the impact their purchasing decisions are having on environment. They are looking at positive changes to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle, from reducing meat consumption to looking at alternatives to plastic products.
At the Wood Window Alliance (WWA) we wanted to understand the impact that this shift towards leading a greener, more sustainable lifestyle meant for the average UK home; looking at what we put in them and how we want to live in them. We commissioned research group Canvas8 to survey 1,000 British homeowners about the relationship between natural materials in their home and their sense of well-being. Once the results were in, Canvas8 then cross-referenced the findings with their extensive library of consumer attitudes and behaviours. The stand-out trend from the data is that homeowners in the UK are introducing ‘nature’ and ‘wellness’ into their homes.
As our everyday lives feel more stressful, our homes are taking on an ever-increasing importance to our wellbeing. With a growing emphasis on ‘bringing the outside-in’, there has been a growth in the incorporation of natural products, such as timber, into the home. Not only is this reported to be good for our personal health, but when the timber has been sustainably sourced it has a positive impact on the planet.
The findings from the Canvas8 research support the emergence of the ‘natural wellness’ home, with the following three key themes:
#1 homely wellness
Put simply, ‘naturally happy’ is not just a matter of individual psychology and attitude. 49% of home-owners surveyed state that having natural materials in their homes makes them feel discernibly happier than when surrounded by artificial materials, with one in three planning to bring in more natural materials, and 27% planning to increase the amount of natural fibres, into their homes in a bid to improve their quality of life.
#2 nurture through nature – bringing the outside in
In the UK because of busy lifestyles and how we live, there is the growing acceptance that we are spending too much time indoors. Of those homeowners surveyed, 46% are planning to increase the amount of plants and flowers in their homes in a bid to improve their connection with nature.
#3 plastic purging and wood for good
It seems that the desire to stem the tide of plastic in our lives (and in our oceans) has spread beyond the bag, with one in four homeowners actively planning to decrease the amount of plastics in their home, while 46% state they are conscious of the impact of synthetic materials on the natural environment and one in three conscious of the impact of synthetic materials in general on their wellbeing. When it comes to the most desirable, timber is cited by 67% of homeowners as the material they would like to have more of in their homes.
While PVCu windows – originally hailed as ‘the future’ for durability and ease and a new cheaper option – were installed in their thousands in the 70s, 80s and 90s, today we’re seeing new questions arising.
An increasing number of homeowners, not just architects and designers, are demanding information on whole life value and life cost of any replacement windows. They are wanting honesty from suppliers so that choices can be made on reality and not on marketing spin.
From a WWA perspective, we let the statistics speak for themselves. From an independent study carried out by Heriot Watt University we know that a wood window frame made to WWA standards has an estimated service life of 56 to 65 years; double that of its PVCu equivalent. We also know from this study that each window frame made to WWA standards saves approximately 160kg of CO²e over its estimated lifecycle compared to a PVCu equivalent. Advances in the manufacture and design mean that modern, factory finished wood windows require minimum maintenance, so in average UK climate conditions they provide the best whole life costs, exceeding both PVCu and aluminium window frames.
So the future? Windows and doors made from sustainably sourced timber surely is the only option? To find out more download the following resources: