PVC saves money

Study shows long-term cost and energy benefits of PVC in building products

In today’s cost and energy consciousness, PVC - plastic and its applications - is emerging ahead of materials such as wood and metal as the most cost-effective product for use in key sectors of the construction industry. These findings emerge from a survey commissioned in 2011 by the European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers (ECVM) and undertaken by an independent research company(1).

While the benefits of PVC in the areas of durability, performance and flexibility of use have been long recognised in the building sector, its long-term cost advantages have not always been fully appreciated. The study shows that in three key areas of windows frames, flooring and piping, PVC is not only a more cost-efficient option at the installation stage, it is a better option over the lifetime of the product than competing materials.

PVC in the building industry
PVC (polyvinyl chloride), also known as vinyl, is a versatile type of plastic, which offers a vast range of flexible and rigid PVC end products. It is well known for being durable, fire and corrosion resistant, easy to process, and recyclable. The energy cost of producing one ton of PVC is lower than for other competing materials. Recycled PVC is increasingly used in the production of PVC products.

In the area of flooring, new PVC technologies have led to the creation of PVC flooring materials with low-porosity surfaces that require minimal cleaning and maintenance, and reduced water requirements – factors which have a considerable influence on its life-cycle cost.

(1) “PVC product competitiveness, a total cost of ownership approach”, Althesys Strategic Consultants, 2011.

The study also looked at the pipes used to carry drinking water, which are generally made of plastics such as PVC or ferrous metals. Indeed the laying and installation costs with PVC (including trenching, handling and laying) are typically between 50% and 70% of total network lifetime costs.

Window frames play a vital role in reducing building energy loss and saving heating or cooling costs. The study concludes that PVC windows are much less expensive over the lifecycle than wood or aluminium.

“Total Cost of Ownership”
The comparative cost analysis undertaken by the independent researchers shows that PVC provides decisive cost advantages, not just in its low initial purchase and installation price, but also in its relatively low “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) which take into account all costs associated with a product over its entire life-cycle.

Viewed across its life cycle, PVC is a highly competitive material in terms of its environmental impact. Several recent eco-efficiency and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies on the most common applications show that in terms of energy requirements and GWP (Global Warming Potential) PVC is at least equal to alternative products, and, in many cases, it shows advantages both in terms of total energy consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

More detailed info on the study on www.pvcconstruct.org

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Editors note:
ECVM ( The European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers ) represents the European PVC resin producing companies and is a division of PlasticsEurope. Its membership includes the 12 European PVC resin producers which together account for 100% of EU 27 production.
In Europe some 20,000 companies are involved in the production of PVC products ensuring jobs for some 530,000 people.

ECVM is also a leading partner of VinylPlus - the organisation implementing the Voluntary Commitment of the PVC Industry - together with ESPA - representing the stabiliser producers, ECPI - representing the plasticiser producers and EuPC - representing the PVC converters.