Does GREEN have to cost more?

Given two choices, would a product’s ‘green credentials’ sway a buying decision?

For several years, the influencing factor on the consumer has been cost. However, clients, particularly those working to 30-year asset plans, now need to consider other aspects. Is the cost to the environment becoming one of the most crucial of these?

BBC One’s Blue Planet II series (2017) is immensely popular, with the first episode attracting over 14 million viewers – more than Strictly or X Factor. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the programme explores our amazing oceans but also highlights the human impact upon them, particularly the increased use of plastics, in all aspects of daily life, where up to 12 million tonnes per year (Greenpeace, 22 August 2017), ‘ends up in the oceans where it can be lethal’ (David Attenborough). So, what can we do? Is there a way that we can reduce the use of plastics and what will be the cost implications of this choice?

In the construction industry there is a perception that environmentally friendly products are more expensive, and, in some instances, this is true. For example, there is a considerable cost difference in common loft insulation products and that of ‘eco’ sheep’s wool alternatives.

Plastic – or PVCu – is the most commonly used material in rainwater products, such as guttering, and is perceived as the cheapest solution. Plastic guttering is readily available at builders’ merchants and DIY chains. However, there are shortfalls in durability. Firstly, over time there can be issues due to the expanding and contracting of the plastic, causing problems such as warping or leaking and colour fade. Secondly, the expected life is only 15–25 years, unlike other roofing materials, such as tiles, that are expected to last 50–60 years. Finally, at the end of its functional life, plastic guttering has no scrap value and will become landfill.

Metal guttering is a practical alternative. It can be formed from molten metals, such as aluminium, steel or iron, and properly maintained, could give a functional life of up to 60 years. Most types of metal guttering can be fully recycled, having a viable scrap value. They are sold in lengths and components, in a range of shapes, sizes and profiles and can be produced in any number of colours. When Wembley Stadium was demolished in 2003, 96% of the aluminium was collected and recycled (Aluminium for Futures).

However, annual maintenance is required, and could include washing down, repairing the paint finish and re-jointing. In addition, these products are significantly more expensive than PVCu goods.

Mustang® Seamless Aluminium Guttering has all the benefits of metal rainwater goods but is far closer in price to plastic guttering. It is a unique system with no joints, meaning no leaks, and has the visual appeal of smooth, neat lines, in a non-fading range of colours. Mustang is environmentally sustainable: manufactured from a minimum of 78% recycled aluminium which can still be recycled at the end of its life, and made to the exact dimensions of the building, eliminating wastage. It is the only aluminium seamless gutter system approved by the construction industry’s accreditation body, BBA, and has a certified life expectancy of 30 years.

Drew Robins, ARP Ltd Head of Specification:

“The Mustang Seamless gutter is the environmentally responsible choice, with all the benefits of a metal system, at a price that is within Local Authority and Housing Association budgets. Its accredited life expectancy assists with asset planning, bringing it into line with the life expectancy of other roofing elements.”

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