The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has published the results of a six-month research and evaluation project designed to formally quantify the benefits and express in objective terms the non-quantifiable benefits, of Pilkington Activ™ the world’s first dual action self-cleaning glass. The results conclusively prove the effectiveness of the product in reducing costs, environmental impact and even suggest that loss of life and serious injury in window cleaning accidents may be reduced.
The research, funded by Pilkington but otherwise carried out completely independently by the BRE, one of the world’s most renowned research and testing institutions for building products, is intended to provide information on the environmental impacts of Pilkington ActivÔ to specifiers and government authorities, and thus to simplify the specification process when considering it against conventional glass.
The research was carried out with occupants, clients, specifiers and installers involved with 12 separate projects already installed with Pilkington Activ™. Subjective comments were received from architects who said it gave them design flexibility, occupants enjoyed the permanently self-cleaning windows, and building owners valued the cost savings and lack of disruption caused by window cleaning. Everyone welcomed the fact that there would be less need for cleaners to work in dangerous, and potentially fatal, conditions. The vast majority said that they would use the product again, would recommend it to others and believed it would one day “become the norm.” Project specifiers said they would use it in their own homes.
The research identified window-cleaning cost savings from the examples studied, with most respondents ceasing the use of window cleaners completely, having not needed to clean their windows conventionally for two to three years. One school that was part of the research programme had reduced its window cleaning regime to just once a year and a zoo had changed from daily to monthly cleaning.
Whole-life cost analyses were carried out for a three storey school, a six storey apartment block and a twelve storey office building for which the BRE carried out research with and without Pilkington Activ™. This included the capital, maintenance and running costs, including window cleaning, over the lifetime of the buildings. In every case, the lowest whole life costs occurred when Pilkington Activ™ was used.
The cost analysis also calculated the payback period after which the investment in Pilkington Activ™ paid for itself. Three different interest rates were used to reflect the cost of borrowing money to pay for the initial investment. For the school building the payback period was as low as five to six years, for the apartment building the payback period was nine to eleven years and for the office building the payback period was as low as three to four years.
Even more dramatically, significant capital cost savings were calculated if Pilkington Activ™ is used in standard windows compared to conventional glazing in reversible windows. In multi-storey apartment buildings reversible windows have been specified more frequently in recent years, so that window cleaning can be done from inside; however the BRE showed that, if Pilkington Activ™ in non-reversible windows is used instead, the total capital cost of the building will be lower.
Remarkable findings were also made with regard to the water savings – the office building during its lifetime would save almost 100,000 litres of water. The report also quantifies the impacts of the use of energy and other resources for window cleaning of a typical semi-detached house using thirteen separate environmental criteria. These range from the effect on climate change, through human toxicity to water, to waste disposal. In all respects, Pilkington Activ™ has a reduced negative impact compared to conventional glass.
However, one of the most compelling statistics discovered by the BRE was that falls from ladders when cleaning windows were found to result in 20 deaths and 1,500 major injuries a year, the majority in the domestic/DIY situation and a number that is increasing annually. Simply by reducing or removing the need for window cleaning these statistics are likely to decrease significantly.
Rick Wilberforce, Market Development Manager for Pilkington Building Products who commissioned the report, says that the company wanted to move the discussions regarding self-cleaning glass generally and Pilkington Activ™ specifically on to a more objective basis: “Since we launched Pilkington Activ™ there has been much conjecture and rumour about the products that now occupy this new sector. Pilkington has a well established reputation for the thoroughness and quality of its research and we felt it was necessary to remove speculation and offer clearly defined parameters for how the product performs. It is up to others to do the same with their products, but now there can be no doubt as to how Pilkington Activ™ performs in a variety of popular applications.”
Copies of the report ‘The Quantification And Evaluation Of The Benefits Of Self-Cleaning Glass’ are available from Pilkington Building Products - UK, Unit 1A, Wirral Business Park, Arrowe Brook Road, Upton, Merseyside, CH49 1QZ. Telephone 01744 692000. Fax 01744 613049. Email email@example.com. Please quote reference ????