Modular manufacture of new homes has a track record of delivering big savings. Big savings on time alongside big cost efficiencies. This also extends to carbon reduction.

John Duckworth, Director of Commercial Sales, Deceuninck




A recent study by the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh Napier University found factory-produced homes can lower the carbon footprint of new homes by as much as 45% compared to traditional methods of residential construction.  The study last year of two modular housing schemes in London totalling more than 900 homes, saved a combined 28,000 tonnes of carbon.
“The modular housing sector is making some very exciting inroads into reducing its carbon footprint, with lower energy usage and more efficient manufacture, reducing input costs – but also lessening environmental impact”, says John Duckworth, Director of Commercial Sales, Deceuninck.


“As suppliers of energy efficient windows and doors into the modular sector, we’re conscious of the part we have to play in lowering the carbon embodied in new homes and have made a pledge to significantly reduce it.”   Deceuninck committed to ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse emissions through the corporate carbon reduction scheme, Science Based Targets (SBTi) in 2022.

This includes a commitment to cut the CO2  emissions from its own operations (Scope 1&2) by 60% by 2030 from a 2021 baseline. Allowing for future growth in real terms this means reducing CO2 per tonne of product produced by 75%. This goes significantly beyond the SBTi minimum target of 42%.  It has also committed to cut emissions from within its supply chain (Scope 3 emissions) by 48% per tonne by 2030, as part of its wider journey to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.


“We see it as an opportunity for our customers across sectors”, continues John. “As we lower our scope 1 and two emissions, by default, we lower the scope 3 emissions of our customers, contributing to an overall lowering of the carbon footprint of new build schemes.”

Embodied carbon, which is emitted by the production and transport of materials during a scheme’s construction, currently accounts for around 11% of global emissions.

In the UK, emissions from embodied carbon are between 40 and 50 million tonnes. Emissions are lower in modular builds because of efficiency gains in manufacture but also fewer transport movements to and from site.  As part of its strategy Deceuninck has invested more than €15million in one of the world’s most advanced recycling and compounding facilities to create the capacity to reprocess up to 45,000 tonnes of post-consumer and post-manufacturing PVC-U per year.  In real terms this gives it the capacity to prevent more than three million windows from going to landfill annually.

“The window and door industry is committed to rising to the challenge. Deceuninck developing low carbon manufacturing technologies and a new generation of products which deliver big through-life energy efficiency gains”, John explains.

“We’re designing and developing windows and doors which deliver an enhanced level of performance through-life, but which are easier to recycle and use lower energy to do so, at end of life.”  With Future Homes looming large on the horizon in 2025, the through life performance of windows and doors, is under the microscope, with fundamental changes to window design inevitable.  According to the National Housing Federation the UK’s 29million homes produce 58.5million tonnes of CO2 every year. That’s more than the CO2 produced annually by all car journeys.  It also makes up round 14% of the UK’s emissions and with a commitment to cut total UK emissions by 80% relative to 1990 levels by 2050 under the Climate Change Act (2008), that’s a big problem for Government.  As a key element of the building envelope and a potential major source of CO2 (according to Government figures, 18% of heat loss occurs through windows), windows and doors are a key element of the building fabric.  “This was recognized in the changes to Part L that we saw last year which introduced a new requirement of 1.2W/m2 K for new build windows and doors; and 1.4W/m2 K for replacement windows and doors.
“It was, however, in fact just the start of what will be a series of performance changes for windows and doors in the coming two-to three years, with consultation on future changes to Part L, and under the Future Homes Strategy, imminent”, continues John.
“This could see u-values for new build reduced to as low as 0.8W/m2 K, or more likely 0.9W/m2 K. Even at the latter, the modular housing sector and its supply chains, are going to have to re-think window and door specification because products as they sit today, aren’t going to deliver required performance.”

Deceuninck’s new energy efficient fiberglass composite window system has been developed as a future-proof window system with u-values as low as 0.8W/m2K.   It’s defined by contemporary minimalist features, creating a strong architectural aesthetic which replicates aluminium in an advanced, low maintenance and energy efficient, composite system.  John continues:

“Elegant, our award winning, new ultra-energy-efficient window and door offer sits within our wider sustainability strategy.  “It’s a next generation window system which has been designed to deliver exceptional through life performance, while it’s also easier and use less energy to recycle at end-of-life”, he explains.  “Factory-built homes have been proven to lower carbon-footprint.  “Partnerships with building products suppliers who are pursing innovative programmes to do the same within their businesses, can support the modular sector in delivering even bigger savings by lowering embodied carbon in manufacture and delivering better performance, through life.”

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In 2019, the UK Government committed to the Net Zero target as recommended by the Climate Change Committee – and the construction industry will have to play a big part if that is to be achieved.
UK construction produces 400 million tonnes of waste a year, accounts for 36% of energy use and 39% of CO2 emissions, and 30% of construction material is waste.

The drive in the construction sector is towards sustainably sourced or recycled building product to help reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Barton Windows, which provides an extensive range of aluminium systems and specialises in aluminium windows, doors and curtain walling, is looking at a sustainable future and the fabricator’s Director, Ian Smith, said:

“More expectation is now being placed on businesses in all sectors, but particularly the fenestration and construction industries and we want to make sure Barton is doing everything it can when it comes to sustainability and reduce our carbon footprint.”

The importance of aluminium

One of the big advantages for Barton is the sustainability credentials of aluminium. Arguably the most sustainable building material in the world, it can be recycled back into high quality aluminium and the recycling process saves 95% of the energy required to produce aluminium from raw materials.
As a material it is also durable, highly resistant to rusting and corrosion, and requires very little long-term maintenance. It is also light weight, making it easy to handle which reduces the environmental impact and cost of transportation.

“The life span of aluminium products can be measured in decades rather than years and this, coupled with its recycling process, makes it hugely sustainable. After all, aluminium is known as the green metal for a reason,” said Ian.
“With the shift towards greener products only set to continue, aluminium will play an increasingly significant role as a building material in construction and the fenestration as we head towards a greener future. If we are to have any chance of hitting important targets in 2025 and 2050 then aluminium provides the best chance of doing it.”

Investing in modular

With Barton Windows being part of Modular Group Investments Limited (MGI), modular construction also plays a big part in the 35-year-old company’s focus.  MGI is a rapidly growing group focused on acquiring businesses around the off-site sector with the goal of making a positive contribution to UK offsite and modular manufacturing.
Ian said:

“With the UK so far behind in terms of the number of new houses that need to be built, modular is the answer to not just build quicker but greener too.
It generates up to 90% less waste than traditional construction, it means 90% less vehicle movements to sites, thus reducing the carbon footprint and 94% of materials in modular construction are sourced in more eco-friendly ways.”

Taking care

Not content with contributing to construction’s drive for a sustainable future with its aluminium products and its supply to the modular sector, the North Lincolnshire fabricator is doing its best to reduce its own carbon footprint.
Meeting its Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) values is playing an increasing role in Barton’s business agenda. A formalisation of a business’s collective conscientiousness, among other things it looks at how a business performs on environmental challenges, including waste and recycling.
Moving to lower emissions on its fleet, it recently taken delivery of its new hybrid Toyota Corolla Commercial van, which replaces a diesel van, and achieves 60 mpg so is good for the environment.
Ian added:

“We have always taken our environment obligations seriously and that includes manufacturing responsibility and more sustainable working practices so we can meet the sustainability requirements and expectations of our customers.”

For more information on Barton Windows CLICK HERE TO visit the website

or call 01652 633897


Plastic is bad right? Yet, low maintenance, thermally efficient and highly recyclable, on paper it has a lot to offer the construction sector. So where is it going wrong?

You’re on site. It’s a muddy winter’s day and bundles of shrink wrap and tape are blowing like tumble weed in a Western movie, across the muddy puddles, waiting to entangle themselves in neighbouring hedgerows.  It’s as negative an image of plastic as there can be (unless its ensnaring marine wildlife). And while the construction sector has taken steps in the right direction, plastic waste remains a big problem.  Recent government data shows that the UK has cut plastic waste by 2.7% over the past two years as we switch to paper straws and reusable bags. But at the same time plastic waste in construction jumped by 46%, reflecting increased sector activity.

So, can plastic ever be green? Or should the construction sector be turning its back on it once and for all?

“Plastic waste is definitely a problem for construction”, says John Duckworth, Director Commercial Sales, Deceuninck. “Site waste can be massively damaging.
“But the issue is less about the material than our attitude towards it. If we stop seeing plastic as disposable, the problem goes away.”  This is the point of contention for Deceuninck, the PVC-U window systems leader. It has invested more than €15million in one of the world’s most advanced recycling and compounding facilities to create the capacity to reprocess up to 45,000 tonnes of post-consumer and post-manufacturing PVC-U per year.  In real terms this gives it the capacity to prevent more than three million windows from going to landfill annually.  “It’s about the circular economy”, continues John. “Manufacturing products with less embodied carbon; designing them better so that they are more energy efficient; and making them easier to recycle at end of life.  “It’s about lowering carbon and to do that we need to change our approach to material choices.”

Deceuninck’s recycling facility also encompasses the largest dry blending facility in Europe, fully integrated with its main manufacturing facility, the approach connects process, while reducing CO2 emissions by 90,000 tonnes compared to virgin feedstocks. It also delivers a 90% energy saving.

This forms a key pillar of Deceuninck’s commitment to ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse emissions through the corporate carbon reduction scheme, Science Based Targets (SBTi).

This includes the pledge to cut the CO2 emissions from its own operations (Scope 1&2) by 60% by 2030 from a 2021 baseline. Allowing for future growth in real terms this means reducing CO2 per tonne of product produced by 75%. This goes significantly beyond the SBTi minimum target of 42%.  It has also committed to cut emissions from within its supply chain (Scope 3 emissions) by 48% per tonne by 2030, as part of its wider journey to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  John continues: “In the UK PVC-U has an A+ Green Guide Rating on the basis that it can be recycled more than 10 times, without impacting on performance.  “PVC-U windows have a reference service life of around 35 to 40 years, so the material used in each window made with virgin feedstock could be recycled and still be in use in 350 to 400 years’ time.

“The key thing is we have to recycle it.”

Deceuninck’s main suite of energy efficient window and door profiles can include up to 50% recycled material. This is manufactured using leading edge co-extrusion technologies, which isolate recycled content in areas away from the surface of the product, guaranteeing finish and performance.


“The technology is there today to manufacture a 100% recycled window”, John continues, “We’ve done it with Phoenix, our 100% recycled window.  “In bringing post-consumer material back into use on a day-to-day basis at a lower level, we’re already lowering the carbon footprint of our products but critically, designing them to be easier to recycle at end of life, pushing down the carbon footprint of the next generation of products.”




Elegant is one of a new generation of energy efficient window and door systems from Deceuninck. The fiberglass composite window delivers a step change in performance achieving U-values as low as 0.8W/m2K.  The system is built around a single ultra-energy-efficient modular frame which is available as a standard 76mm system. These can be combined with any of five different sash options.

It can also be combined with Decoroc, Deceuninck’s next generation foil, so fitted alongside aluminium products as part of dual-specification installations.

“Elegant gives you a lot of design flexibility,” John says. “You’re getting a window that can be optimised for either commercial or residential applications with a massive amount of flexibility within those markets because of the combination of sash and frame options that we can offer.”


Given this combination of design, flexibility, advanced thermal performance and recyclability at end of life, John argues that PVC-U building products continue to offer significant value to the construction sector – but moreover, can be part of a greener future.

“We maybe need to get over one or two prejudices that we have about materials and to judge them on what they actually deliver”, he says.  “There are underlying issues about our attitude towards plastics but much of that sits with our cultural attitude towards them and the fact that we have seen them as being disposable.  “If you’re judging PVC-U as a building material and PVC-U windows and doors within that category, you should be approaching that process factually.  “The material is energy efficient, it can and is being recycled and new generation composite PVC-U products can and are being used to maximise value on a wide range of projects.”

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Rise of timber driven by carbon reduction and improving building performance 


High performance timber windows and doors manufacturer, NorDan UK Ltd, has announced a record 34 percent increase in turnover for a single year for 2022.

NorDan’s turnover has increased year-on-year since 2016 and has grown more than 85 percent in the last five years.

Sustained growth across private and public customers is further evidence of changing priorities in the construction industry, with an increasing focus now on the whole life carbon reduction of buildings and the lengthening the lifespan of products and materials.

Originally conceived to withstand the harsh rigours of a Nordic maritime winter, NorDan’s timber and aluminum-clad timber windows and doors have been known as a niche product, offering some of the industry’s highest standards in thermal performance and durability.

But with architects and specifiers now seeking materials that meet the changing demands of developers and housebuilders, NorDan’s products are now becoming a mainstream in UK building.

This is being heavily influenced by the Future Homes Standard (set to come into force in 2025), with numerous big social landlords and local authorities already specifying and building to that standard – including the likes of NorDan customers Reading Council and Clarion Housing Group.

The sale of timber products has also been driven by an increasing need to reduce whole life carbon of buildings, including the embodied carbon emissions generated from the manufacture, transport, installation, and eventual disposal of building materials.

NorDan is one of the few construction suppliers that has Environmental Product Declarations (or EPDs) on virtually its entire product range, proving third-party validated audits of all the carbon in its products.



Alex Brown, NorDan UK Managing Director said: “Last year’s record growth is obviously very pleasing, but 100% consistent with the wider direction of travel in construction and the built environment.

“People have long known that NorDan’s timber products are carbon negative and offer a 60-year lifespan but have maybe in the past needed a reason to specify what were perceived premium windows or doors.

“What we now see is low carbon, durability, and high-thermal performance becoming the new mainstream, and this is taking NorDan’s and other quality timber products with it.

“Architects and developers are now seeking incremental gains across buildings to meet raising industry standards, as well as the expectations of the public, and NorDan can give them the low-carbon, high-performance guarantees sought.

Alex concludes: “Looking ahead, NorDan UK’s priority is to continue developing its people and infrastructure to maintain anticipated accelerated growth over the coming years.”


Mat Clarke, Contracts Manager at contractor Henry Boot Construction comments:


“Sustainability, and reducing the whole life carbon impact of building, has become an increasing priority for Henry Boot Construction in recent years, and we now routinely seek out sustainable suppliers and partners.

“As a result, we are increasing the amount of timber we use in our construction projects, and this has made NorDan a natural choice, as it places sustainability at the heart of its operations and products.

Mat continues: “A recent example of this can be found at our marquee development at The Cocoa Works in York, where NorDan’s products have the specification to achieve a high environmental and energy performance.”


Ayo Allu, Director of Design, Technical & Innovation at NorDan customer Clarion Housing Group comments:


“Material costs and the impact of embodied carbon calculations on business performance is increasingly driving the way Clarion is constructing its buildings, as is our familiarity with the timber products on the market, and the vast increase in testing data compared to previous years.

“Embodied carbon is already a development consideration within major cities, and the GLA how has an embodied carbon tool which has to be completed for each new development – with other cities set to follow suit.”

Ayo concludes: “As a development business, we’re now benchmarking our embodied carbon for development and construction activities for the second year running, so we can set reduction targets for ourselves and our supply chain.”







Both Henry Boot Construction and Clarion Housing Group are working with NorDan on the iconic Cocoa Works refurbishment project in York.



NorDan UK is the British arm of the Norwegian founded NorDan Group, a multinational business that operates in seven European countries, employing 2,200 people across 12 factories and 35 sales offices. 


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For more information on the Cocoa Works, York, PLEASE CLICK HERE