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Frequently asked questions

Sustainability in general

1. What is the definition of sustainability and where can I find out more?

You can find a good introduction to sustainable building on the website of the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development:
It gives a detailed and accessible description of the three pillars of building sustainability: ecology, economy and social/cultural factors.

2. Are there different certification systems for buildings?

There are a large number of different certification systems worldwide. Many are only used in certain regions and have developed out of a variety of initiatives. The market-leading international systems are LEED, BREEAM and DGNB. For the domestic French market, HQE is the leading system.

The three main systems have different focuses. Convergence is not expected any time soon. Architects, developers and manufacturers are obliged to take into account the requirements of the relevant system during construction planning and implementation. Ultimately, the client chooses the certification system that is suitable for their building.

3. What requirements for façades and windows must be taken into consideration in certified buildings?

For all the systems, a high level of energy efficiency is always a positive. The systems specify their requirements under different criteria. Building certifiers and developers then implement the requirements in the performance specifications in a way that is specific to the building. As this process depends to a large extent on the building concept and the desired quality level, it is not possible to generalise. Experience shows that Schüco systems are very well suited to certified buildings.

4. Is any special documentation required?

Information on the environmental impact of products is increasingly required as additional documentation. Schüco provides the appropriate EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) via SchüCal for aluminium systems, and industry-standard sample EPDs for PVC-U. In particular for LEED, information is required about regional origins and the proportion of recycled material.

5. How should windows made of aluminium, PVC-U and wood be assessed in terms of sustainability?

At the end of a building envelope’s usage phase, dismantling and recycling are important. Wood is fundamentally recyclable, and window frames made of wood must be burned or disposed of after a building is dismantled. Old PVC-U windows have long been recycled by the Rewindo organisation and re-used for window profiles. For aluminium windows and façades, a powerful recycling organisation was set up in Germany in 2011 by certified recyclers under the umbrella of A/U/F. Old aluminium is used to make new, high-quality profiles as often as required and with a high degree of energy efficiency. Recycled aluminium is therefore a material, resource and energy store for future generations, which can be reused countless times by means of recycling without any reduction in quality or loss of its properties. Overall, the three materials are of almost equal ecological value for windows. PVC-U window systems have economic benefits, whereas aluminium systems have functional and design benefits.

Cradle to Cradle® (C2C)

6. What is Cradle to Cradle (C2C)?

Cradle to Cradle describes the circulation of materials in closed and potentially infinite cycles. In essence it is about materials no longer turning into waste, but all constituent materials serving as nutrients for biological or technical cycles after they have been used. This requires all materials to be toxicologically harmless – and product design that anticipates the separability of components. In other words, Cradle to Cradle is the scientific basis for the implementation of the circular economy in the construction sector.

7. Why C2C certification?

The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII) in San Francisco has created a holistic evaluation system for developing, assessing and certifying products that meet the C2C requirements. As the demand for building certifications (LEED, BREEAM, DGNB) has steadily grown in recent years, so too has the requirement for sustainable materials and products. C2C is a product certification, i.e. independent confirmation of the quality of a product. Among other things, the certificate is valid as proof of compliance with harmful emissions during installation, usage and dismantling, and can be used as proof in specifications for tender which require sustainability. C2C-certified products can already be credited under LEED, BREEAM and DGNB.

For the EU, transforming the European economy into a circular economy is a key strategy for the future. It has been promoted since 2015 with the Circular Economy Package. Certified recyclable products will therefore become significantly more important in the future, for example in public tenders.

8. What distinguishes a C2C-certified product?

Cradle to Cradle-certified products undergo a toxicology analysis and can be recycled to a high quality. Depending on the certification level (Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum), 75%, 95% or 100% of the weight of the constituent material is examined and optimised, and the recycling processes at the end of the life cycle are ensured. At the same time, Schüco must provide proof from its suppliers that the limit values and substance bans enforced by C2CPII are being adhered to in all components. The analysis here goes down to the level of the chemical substances (100 ppm). The C2C standard also requires the use of renewable energy, stewardship of water and high social standards in the manufacture of products. C2C products are thus demonstrably better for people and the environment and go one step further on the path to a circular economy.

9. How does certification work?

The certificate is awarded by the independent Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute (C2CPII) in San Francisco. To this end, Schüco must prove that all the requirements of the certification standard have been adhered to, and comprehensively document this and provide the corresponding certificates and measurements as proof. All documents are submitted to the certification body for a conformity check. Only if all the requirements are met is the certificate awarded. In addition, re-certification is required every two years.

As the test of the constituent materials reaches far into the supply chain and closely examines the material composition down to 100 ppm (0.01%), the suppliers and subcontractors need to be involved.

Suppliers can safeguard their business secrets (e.g. production processes) by protecting confidential information with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If materials which do not comply with the strict requirements of the C2C standard are found, they must be substituted. This product optimisation process is an important part of C2C certification.

For the auditing, optimisation and the whole certification process, Schüco works with EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung based in Hamburg, and Drees & Sommer SE.

10. What is the difference between general recycling and C2C recycling?

The recycling that is carried out today is generally “downcycling.” This means that materials lose technical quality during the recycling process. For example, window glass is not currently recycled into high-quality window glass. It is usually turned into container glass or another inferior product until it finally ends up as landfill. Mineral waste is turned into road foundations instead of being re-used for walls and foundations. By contrast, the aim of recycling according to the Cradle to Cradle principle is for all materials to be able to circulate at a consistent quality. This permanently preserves the value that is created in manufacturing and finishing processes.

In addition to the C2C initiative, Schüco is therefore actively involved in the A/U/F recycling initiative to improve the material cycle in window and façade construction for the long term.

11. How is it different to other labels?

In contrast to business-related certificates such as ISO 14001 (environmental management) or building certificates such as DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council), Cradle to Cradle certification relates to a specific product. According to ISO 14024, C2C certification is a Type I environmental declaration, comparable to the Blaue Engel (“Blue Angel”) or natureplus. This means that set criteria are examined and verified by external experts and the results are communicated via the label as qualitative and verifiable information, in this case as a Basic, Bronze, Silver or Platinum certification level. In contrast to an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration), which is a Type III environmental declaration that can be issued for any product, C2C certification is only awarded to products which adhere to the high C2C standards for material health and recyclability as well as energy, water and social requirements.

12. What Schüco products / systems are already C2C certified?

Products with C2C Bronze:

We have created a modular system which allows window, door and façade systems to be designed in accordance with the C2C Bronze standard using the SchüCal design software. Certified articles can thus be combined to make a building project-specific product, which then receives C2C verification. The systems that are used are the Schüco AWS, Schüco ADS SimplySmart and Schüco FWS systems, which have achieved the C2C Bronze standard.

The modular system will be optimised to Silver level by the end of 2017.

Products with C2C Silver:

Three products have already been certified to the high C2C Silver standard: Schüco FWS 50.SI, Schüco AWS 75.SI+ and Schüco AWS 65 NL.

All certificates can be found in Docu Center.

to the certificates

13. What support is available when using SchüCal?

The SchüCal design, calculation and ordering software already allows you to easily check whether Schüco products are C2C verified. With just a few clicks, you can find out whether the configured unit is C2C compliant. The verification is always based on the existing certificates for individual products and modular systems.

14. Will more Schüco products be certified in future?

Yes. Schüco has developed a C2C roadmap to structure the continuous improvement process (see chart). The C2C modular system at Silver level should be available at the start of 2018. All Schüco aluminium systems are to be C2C certified in the future. The C2C criteria are also being gradually integrated in the development of new products and additional product categories. Schüco employees are being given intensive training on the topic.

15. What can I do if my planned system is not yet C2C certified?

If a C2C certification is required on a project and the planning does not permit a solution with C2C-compliant products, there is an option for individual certification. This costs money and takes time. There is less expenditure for special constructions made of aluminium profiles, as the standard aluminium systems from Schüco are already certified. Please contact us for more details.


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