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  • Why Use PVC for Windows and Doors PAUL W. WARNER

    Mikron Industries, Inc. Kent, Washington 98032

    Mr. Krauskopfi Paul Warner is president and Chief Operating Officer of Mikron Industries, Inc., in Kent, Washington. Mikron is the leading U.S. producer of rigid PVC windows and door frames. Paul majored in business administration at Portland State University. He has more than 2 1 years experience in the window business, the last four of which include rigid PVC profile extrusions. As president of SIGMA, the Sealed Insulating Glass Manufacturing Association, he helped to set the standards and test procedures for seal durability. He has held numerous positions on boards in the AAMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association.

    Mr. Warner: Mikron is a supplier to the window industry that has an emerging product called PVC or vinyl. I think in the future, as a marketing ploy, we are going to call it vinyl, not PVC. PVC kind of rhymes with PCB, and it seems like we are catching it wher- ever we go. So we will probably be calling these prod- ucts vinyl in the future.

    I think the real reason that I am here is because I view this as the largest threat to our business that we have ever seen. Our company has approximately 50 extrusion lines; 95% of it is devoted to the window business as PVC framing material. So unless we want 50 significant boat anchors, I think it behooves our company to do what we can to join the fight against this ban on PVC. And I will stress the word ban because I think that is where we are heading and that is where they would like us to go.

    So with that, let me give you a brief history on the development of vinyl windows.

    Solid vinyl windows were first developed and used in Europe in the early 1950s. Early designs in Ger- many were very heavy profiles, and, in fact, today are still quite substantial in comparison to the way that the Americans have developed vinyl windows. Houses in the United States currently use PVC in a myriad of window designs.

    Solid vinyl windows were first developed and intro- duced to the United States in the 60s, but had rela- tively slow growth and were primarily used in the area of replacement windows. In the early 1980s, our company pioneered the idea of making this product for new-construction.

    I will give you an idea of how the market has changed.

    Figure 1 shows the materials used in the window industry in 1987. Vinyl had a 13% market share.

    OTHER (1%)

    FKJ. 1. 1987. Source: AAMA Industry Statistical Reuiew and Forecast 1994.

    Others, which include steel and some pultruded products, had 2%. Aluminum had 41%, and the wood industry had 45%.

    Six years later, in 1993, 26% of the products are vinyl. So most of the change came out of the alu- minum industry. And wood had a slight gain of around 3%, as shown in Fig. 2.

    Figure 3 is the projection for 1996; it shows that vinyl jumps to 29%. taking quite a bit from the alu- minum industry, and a few points away from the wood industry.

    So, as you can see, the potential for this product is significant.

    Why WC or why vinyl windows? I t really stems from energy efficiency.

    Our company is located close to Seattle, Washing- ton. In 1980, the Congress of the United States passed the Northwest Power Plan. And within this plan was the idea that we were going to try and save as much energy in a geographical region as we could and do it through conservation and monitor the results. The reason they could is because the majority of the power was developed by the Bonneville Power Admin- istration, which is the federal government hydropow- er plants located along the Columbia and Snake rivers. Part of that act required much higher energy efficiency for windows. Today the Pacific Northwest, which is relatively mild in terms of climate, has the most stringent energy codes in the country. The expe- rience of those energy codes has spread throughout this country.

    In 1991 the U.S. Congress finally passed an energy act, and part of that was a requirement for windows


  • Paul W. Warner

    OTHER (1%)

    Frg. 2. 1993. Source: AAMA Industry Statistical Review and Forecast 1994.

    OTHER (1%)

    Fig. 3. 1996. Source: AAMA Industry Statistical Review and Forecast 1994.

    to be rated through thermal efficiency and other areas so that consumers could make an informed choice. One of the benefits of a window labeling sys- tem is to eliminate deceptive advertising. As an exam- ple, weve all seen advertising that suggests that re- placing one window will solve all the energy problems in your home. The idea is for a consumer to go to a building products store, such as Home Depot, and see different varieties of windows. They will all have a sticker on them, much like the appliance industry has, and you will be able to make an informed deci- sion about the thermal efficiency of the products.

    WC is the cost-effective choice for energy effi- ciency. It is maintenance-free, it has basically the same thermal values as wood, while the other com- peting material, aluminum, is highly conductive.

    Figure 4 demonstrates the total energy cost to gen- erate a thousand pounds of material. Aluminum is 104 million BTUs, while WC is 34. Steel, glass, and wood consume slightly less energy than PVC, but have other performance limitations.

    Wood has taken severe hits because the same p e e ple that are trying to do it to our industry did it to them already. The wood industry is working very diligently to design wood out of their product as fast as they can with other substitutes. There will still be wood in it, but there will be much less of it so they can try and control their costs.

    Aluminum is not cost effective as an energy ef- ficient product. And, again, look at their first-cost


    I 1 I

    0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Million BTU/1000 Ibs

    Fig. 4. Alternative materials energy consumption.

    problems, the amount of energy that it takes to gen- erate a thousand pounds of that product, compared with PVC.

    PVC is the right choice for windows. The product is environmentally friendly. Our company was the very first company to offer a defined recycling program for our products. We take our material back from our customers. We have a thorough reprocessing system and it goes back into the primary product. Back into the primary product is an important point.

    As it was aptly said to me one day by one of the Greenpeace people, our opposition here, we have about enough plastic park benches in this world. We want products that will go back into the primary product. There is absolutely no technical reason, if you spend a little money, that it cant be done. Vinyl doesnt use valuable natural resources that we have in the area of wood, and obviously it has a lower first-cost than our other competing material, which is aluminum.

    Vinyl has a very high customer acceptance through both builders and homeowners. The product, when it was first introduced in areas such as southern Cali- fornia, which is obviously a significantly different cli- mate than we have in the Northwest, has performed equally as well as competing framing materials.

    The last thing I am going to show you is a newslet- ter that our company developed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rohm and Haas, because they made significant contributions in helping us to develop this customized brochure for Mikron Indus- tries. I would highly recommend that you would do the same.

    I know that there are those of you out there saying, Well, gee whiz, our companys product is not tied to the chlorine industry. And that maybe some of you, but not many, I suspect, based on what Joe Walker showed us.

    But I am here to say that I dont think this is about chlorine. I think this is about a ban on the chemical industry. I t is not about chlorine. Those of you who think that the old-growth timber was tied to spotted owls are absolutely incorrect. They couldnt care less


  • Why Use PVC for Windows and Doors

    about the spotted owl. The spotted owl was the vehi- cle. In this case, chlorine is the vehicle.

    So those of you who are sitting there smugly think- ing, Its not going to affect me, I am telling you it will. And I am here to ask for your support in develop ing pieces like this. You can use as much or as little of it as you would like, but I encourage you to do so.

    I will give you just a little experience of what Mikron did. These folks on this panel are professionals and they do their job very well. However, we are not will- ing to leave our company in their hands totally. They are a wonderful resource and I would encourage you to use them. But the fact is that these laws are written by congressmen and senators, and these con- gressmen and senators have home states. I would encourage you to have them to your plant. We have had everyone in our congressional delegation in the state of Washington in our plant talking to our work- ers, letting them see them face to face. This has a huge impact.

    We went to Washington, D.C., and met with the Speaker of the House. That sounds like we have a lot of influence. Wrong, we dont. We happen to be from Washington, and he is from Washington. We asked one of our manufacturers in the city of Spokane, who is in his district, to make the appointment. And we had a half an hour with the Speaker of the House. In attendance was the window manufacturer, ourselves, and a representative from Dow Chemical. We had a very meaningful discussion with arguable the third most powerful man in this country about the c h b rine issue. I think that we made our point.

    But my