What buildings are suitable for PodMarket-Build (Unilux) windows + doors?
All types of buildings could be using higher quality components, thus improving their performance.
Think about your home, office, gallery, apartment, holiday home, winery, showroom, tourist accommodation, beach shack, learning institutions, lecture halls, sporting clubrooms…
Buildings in remote and harsh environments where it gets cold, even to the point of snow and ice. Or, on the other hand, where it gets very hot and humid. Or, like some parts of Australia, a climate with both extremes in the one year.
Think about places where power is hard to get, expensive, and where the commonly used diesel generator has a massive effect on climate change as well as your bottom line.
It’s just not enough to throw on a few solar panels on the roof, when your building envelope doesn’t perform. Even solar panels have a carbon footprint. And they don’t bring you comfort.
You can use high quality windows to deal with all of these things. Not just for the more obvious controlled environments where it is imperative to keep contaminants outside and fresh air inside, without drafts. Like museums, galleries, wine or even food storage, hospitals, educational, retirement, and aged care. Except that we haven’t even been using high quality building environments for these applications.
Perhaps you would like to keep out humidity, because it brings discomfort, mould, and ill health. You thought cross ventilation was good. In some places it is. But sometimes it’s not enough to prevent humidity and mould inside your home. You simply can’t fight that if your building has uncontrolled airflow through the windows and walls.
Finally, if you want your building to really last, you will want the best out of your windows.
If your architect or builder isn’t using windows or doors like this, you are not likely to be getting the best out of your project. Demand the best in your design, your building, your quality of life and the future of our environment for the decades to come.
Why are we fully importing windows from Germany? Why not get them made here in our own backyard?
The answer is quite simple: Australia simply doesn’t manufacture windows using the same precision processes, know-how or technology as the best windows from Europe, particularly Germany. For our Superpod projects we require the highest quality for passive house reasons. But for any high quality building project, if you want the best, you are likely to need to import your windows.
We have been to many window and door manufacturers throughout the country, and when we tell them why we have decided to only deal with the best window makers in the world, the answers we receive are nearly always the same… “Yeah, I completely understand. We are at least 15 years behind the Germans, and in some products that figure is a lot more like 25 years.” Following this statement of fact is typically another…..”Here in Australia, we’re lucky that we just don’t need such high quality windows!” Seriously, that’s the most common explanation we hear as to why we’re so far behind.
We have visited the German manufacturing plants too, and it’s very clear that they have been investing for decades in extremely high quality windows and doors with tight tolerances, fantastic insulation values, well designed and made hardware, and great air, water and noise proof qualities. They systematically invest in the correct technologies, and all of their windows are made to the highest standards, with independent quality control testing to prove it. The rigours of the coldest parts of the European climate have been behind these standards. As too have the policy decisions made over time to invest in constant improvement. Improvements in plant, equipment, the latest technology and training of employees to the highest possible standard. Like the German automotive industry, this ensures that the quality in both design and manufacture is there for years to come.
Our German manufacturer (Unilux) employs approximately 400 skilled people to manufacture their (and our) windows. Their economies of scale are huge and their plant, technology and processes are second to none. The latest in material advancements, robotics, assembly techniques, sealants, hardware and testing assures us a consistent product that always meets standards – even those as stringent as set out by the International Passive House Institute.
And there’s one more thing. Tolerances. You’ve probably seen more than one “Grand Designs” episode where the windows didn’t quite fit. And you might know that the Australian building standards allow for some pretty broad tolerances – which means, inaccuracies. Don’t try sending your crooked window back, as long as it complies with the Australian Code.
One thing we are sure of: if we order a Unilux window at a particular size and shape, that’s what we will get.
Unfortunately, Australians made decisions long ago not to invest in such window and door manufacturing facilities, and not to support such accuracy in production. And while there are no doubt some small manufacturers with an almost fanatical use of specific, easily accessible (but not necessarily the most sustainable or suitable) timbers, it is not the case that timber is always, per se, the most sustainable window option. The common belief that “if the windows aren’t wood, they just can’t be environmentally friendly or the highest quality” is such outdated and incorrect thinking, that it forced us to examine the situation abroad. And we are very glad we did!
Why use uPVC profiles?
Why use uPVC? Because uPVC is a beautiful, cost effective, thermally superior alternative. uPVC performs much better than aluminium windows, unless you have very carefully designed, thermally broken aluminium. Instead, we offer uPVC with an aluclad capping, to give you the aluminium appearance on the outside, with uPVC performance where it counts, inside.
And believe it or not, uPVC is a very suitable, cost effective and desirable alternative to timber.
However, we offer both, as sometimes timber windows and doors are preferred. So long as both materials meet our stringent standards, we are happy to specify them.
uPVC is otherwise known as plastic or vinyl, and has fantastic insulating qualities when incorporated into a proper window frame with a well designed, thermally efficient profile (frame shape), which contains numerous, strategically placed, air pocket chambers. These profiles are reinforced with steel to ensure long term strength and durability. They are very easy to clean and maintain, and never need painting. They are simply a joy to use and are absolutely nothing like the cheap vinyl or plastics associated with years gone by. Our uPVC window and door profiles are highly sophisticated products that look very contemporary, come in a multitude of colours and finishes and are as tough as nails.
uPVC is an easy way to gain proper insulation throughout your window frames. Our uPVC profiles are not just a single plastic veneer laid over the top of a basic aluminium frame (as may be produced in Australia). Our manufacturing and supply chain only provide high quality uPVC all the way through the profile itself.
For the Australian sun, the uPVC itself must be made utilising a suitable recipe/mix to ensure it lasts over time. The uPVC of years ago did not survive some of our tough Australian conditions too well. This was because the material itself was still developing and was simply being exploited as a cheap alternative to wood. Now we have suitable uPVC products available for our harsh climate – if you purchase from the right supplier. How times have changed!
German manufactured uPVC is produced in an environmentally sound way. If you wish for timber windows because you think that timber production is better for the environment, you have that option. uPVC is often chosen because of its cost effectiveness, and we support both options. At the end of the day, providing a comfortable internal environment for the lowest carbon footprint must include top performing window frames, whatever material you use.
So which is more sustainable, a uPVC frame, or a timber one? Don’t be fooled. Whatever you buy, go for top quality. A top performing uPVC frame is better for the environment than a thin, poorly constructed timber frame that leaks energy constantly out of the wall, and rots in a few years, only to need complete replacement.
Why use KÖMMERLING profiles?
UNILUX make the windows, however KÖMMERLING (also German) manufacture the uPVC profiles themselves. The two companies are closely linked. However, they are totally independent. We have visited the main KOMMERLING manufacturing site also – and we thought UNILUX was big!
KOMMERLING are Europe’s leading manufacturer of Upvc profiles, with their products available worldwide. Their factories and technology are state-of-the-art, with constant product development supplementing their support of their existing products around the world. Refer to our blog for a lot more information about KOMMERLING and visit their extensive website for a host of more in-depth information about anything related to uPVC production and processes. KOMMERLING.
Isn't Upvc bad for the environment?
In short – No, as long as you are dealing with a reputable and audited manufacturer that complies with all European laws and standards. Lead was prohibited from being used as a stabiliser in uPVC production, only as recently as the mid 2000’s, however only reputable manufacturers that are constantly passing all environmental tests can prove their sustainability credentials.
We realise and fully support the fact that the Australian market demands choice. Hence, PodMarket Build provides the option of both timber windows as well as Upvc. However, we have done the research, we have established the international relationships and we are knowledgeable about our products and our business partners – and we consider the Upvc production facility at KÖMMERLING to be one of the most sophisticated and impressive throughout the globe. The constant recording and testing standards are rigorous and their products always comply with the most stringent environmental standards throughout the world. Please refer to the KOMMERLING website for more regarding their environmental credentials.
And let’s never forget this important fact when we start talking about the environmental factors relating to any specific issue. One of the worst things we can do for our environment is to use poor quality, thermally deficient, non air-tight windows + doors in our buildings. Such products significantly raise our energy demand which, over the lifespan of a building, is one of the most detrimental environmental factors that we must learn to overcome.
Why use UNILUX windows?
UNILUX are a leading German company who make windows and doors, as well as other building products. As mentioned above, UNILUX utilise the KÖMMERLING uPVC profiles and sustainably sourced timber, and make the highest performing windows by utilising these highly suitable raw materials. However, true to their ongoing commitment to be the best and at the forefront of the window + door manufacturing world, on top of simply offering both uPVC and timber windows + doors, they also offer both with an external aluminium facing (aluclad) if desired. These aluclad windows + doors offer an additional layer of protection from the elements and also significantly increase the finishes/colours available for that specific, sought-after aesthetic.
UNILUX®’s state of the art production facility has extensive robotic machinery and craftspeople working hand in hand and side by side. As mentioned in point 2 above, UNILUX produces extremely high quality windows + doors with tight tolerances, fantastic insulation values, well designed and made hardware, and with great air, water and noise sealing qualities. They systematically invest in the correct technologies and all of their products are made to the highest standards, with independent quality control testing to prove it.
Be assured, we chose UNILUX® after extensive research and consideration, and we were blown away by their factory production facility in Germany. For further information please refer to the UNILUX website.
Why the extra cost?
Simply put, because our windows and doors are a superior product to the majority of windows and doors in the Australian market today.
When we compare UNILUX windows to a locally made competitor’s windows for example, we are not comparing like for like – not even close. How can you compare? On the one hand are our thermally efficient, state of the art uPVC or timber windows, with triple glazing and the best possible U-values, seals, hardware and gaskets, with or without aluminium facings in hundreds of colours and in any configuration or size you like. On the other hand, you may choose a locally made aluminium or kiln dried hardwood single glazed window (double glazed on occasion, but triple?) with inferior glazing and leaky seals, gaskets and limited (bulk-ordered) hardware.
It’s like comparing a Porsche to a locally made Ford Falcon (at least whilst they were still producing them here in Victoria). They are both “cars” but they are made with very different purposes and for very different reasons and for very different consumers. To extend the analogy, and to further explain why we are in a totally different sphere here, now suppose the Ford Falcon costs significantly more to run and keep on the road, whilst the Porsche just does its job for years to come without any issues and costs the absolute minimum to run. Which one would you choose to purchase?
This is the reality of the comparison when comparing what we’re offering to what’s currently in the marketplace. It’s only that cars are more “sexy” consumer goods than windows and doors. Maybe that’s why we still aim to buy luxury cars even though they don’t save us from the long term running costs at all. Maybe cars hold a special place in human thinking as opposed to the place where one lives. And maybe those of us who value our homes and living styles over our means of transport have been overlooked by the marketing machines. Far be it from us to do psychoanalysis here. Regardless, the comparison of values in products for both the car and home industry holds true, and this is why the up front cost discrepancy exists.
If you want high performing windows, their value (and cost) simply must be different. It is worthwhile to think about the long term cost of buying lesser performing building components. “Buy cheap, pay twice” is another saying that applies here.
Anybody who has replaced a rotting window, wiped down condensation and mould off their window frames, suffered drafts from the leaky frames, felt too cold (or too hot) whenever they sit anywhere near the glass, repainted their weathered frames or paid the high power bills associated with poorly constructed single or even double glazed windows; will know the real and ongoing costs of inferior windows. They add up and are quite staggering.
Sometimes, you need to invest in something worthwhile. And what’s more worthwhile than your home, your comfort and your health? We don’t think the smart consumer would want anything else, when they are armed with the complete facts.
What is the Passive House Standard?
Beware imitations! Beware any builder or architect that says “our buildings employ Passive House Principles”. Beware the designer or developer that says sustainability is simply about “north sun and thermal mass……maybe throw on a few solar panels and all’s good”. Arm yourself with real knowledge and don’t accept the uninformed “experts” noise as anything but!
We’ll keep it as simple as possible.
Please view our affiliated website Superpodhome for a more complete and dedicated resource related to the International Passive House Standard. This site is full of information and is a must read re all things Passive House. In its simplest form, Passive House is about generating high comfort levels for the building’s occupants matched together with the lowest possible energy requirements to keep those occupants (constantly) comfortable. It’s NOT about how many solar panels you have. Or thermal mass. Or uncontrolled drafts through unsealed and inadequate windows.
Hence, Passive House relates to having a highly insulated, airtight space with heat transfer through the building envelope being seriously minimised via the removal of “thermal bridges” and by utilising top quality (insulated) windows and doors, and an air ventilation unit which captures energy and provides the space with fresh, healthy and clean air, all year round!
But that’s just the beginning.
The next important thing to note is that to stay comfortable with the absolute minimum energy requirements, you MUST introduce physics principles and calculations at the very beginning of the design phase. Additionally, you need to keep the quality control going all the way through the process, including component choice and construction methodology. But talking the talk, which we’re so good at in this country, is simply not enough. The building itself must be independently tested to prove its airtightness and thermal efficiency to meet what we think is the most rigorous standard in the world. Only this final testing and proof in meeting each requirement along the way will do to achieve certification from the International Passive House Institute.
Do we know what we are talking about? Yes, we have designed several passive house buildings using physics modelling programs; and built one of only six passive houses in the country. And we’ve done it using our own systematic and patent pending design process. Our goal is to consistently aim for a fully certified Passive House, because that way your goal of having a quality building can be best assured.
How should high quality windows + doors be installed?
Correct installation is important so that you can get the full benefit of all your windows + doors.
We recommend that you use installers who are familiar with passive house techniques, so that your installations include properly insulated and sealed connection details (to the building’s framework structure). We are happy to assist with recommendations and further information.
Can I get a Certified Passive House to go with my windows?
Yes, you can.
We have successfully designed and built one of a handful of certified passive houses in Australia. Building and achieving certification is very different from just the design phase. Our patent pending design is 100% Australian owned and has also won an Australian Good Design award. We are not affiliated with any organisations or training institutions etc, and have been pioneers in the Passive House movement here in Australia. We have forged our own connections and relationships with international bodies as well as highly qualified and regularly practised Passive House experts in Germany, Austria, France, the UK and America.
We will design and consult with you all the way from start to the very finish of your project. We will be there for the final blower door tests etc, and will not leave the journey after the design process is complete. We will thoroughly assist to help you get a certified passive house building and save significantly on your energy costs as a result. Top quality windows + doors are, quite simply, an essential part of achieving this goal.
Please contact us with any enquiry you have. We are also very nice people to deal with!
What is a U value?
This one is a good question. See our blog for an explanation!