top of page


Significance of the origin and upstream chains, the "chain of custody", of building materials and products

In the field of climate-friendly construction, there is a special focus on windows, both in new buildings and in renovations.

A distinction must be made between windows with frames made of WOOD, WOOD-ALUMINIUM, PVC, PVC-ALU and ALU .

Finished windows are now imported to Europe from all over the world.


Many of the preliminary products for windows that are manufactured in Europe do not come from Europe. A large proportion of the wooden windows and wood-aluminium windows made in Europe, for example, are made with the tropical wood meranti, eucalyptus or Siberian larch.

On the other hand, wooden windows and wood-aluminium windows with local wood, verified with the HOLZ VON HIER certificate, have a far better climate and environmental balance in the upstream chains.  

Link: Meranti
Link: eucalyptus

Link: Siberian Larch

Comparison of window frames


Types of window frames made of different materials and origins in a comparison of the most important classic environmental parameters: embodied energy (PERE+PENRE), climate (GWP, Global Warming Potential) and water (FW fresh water consumption) in the upstream chains.


The wooden frame with the WOOD FROM HERE certificate performs best in all parameters. The data of the wooden frames with the HVH certificate are tracked with the environmental footprint of the HVH certification and refer to the concrete, real material flow of a manufacturer in the HVH network. The data for the other generic wooden, ALU and PVC frames are generic data from Ökobaudat. All other data are generic data sets calculated on the basis of generic data for the production-only life cycle phase (A3) and calculated transports, which reflect the real transport distances and transport loads for meranti from Malaysia-Indonesia, eucalyptus from Uruguay and Siberian larch from Siberia reflect again.

​​ (Data from: Whitepaper window frames in comparison, 2021, HVH).

building elements . wooden window


When building a house and especially when renovating, windows and insulation are particularly important for climate-friendly buildings. The previous focus here was exclusively on the red energy of the usage phase and less on the gray energy of the upstream chains of building materials and components.

The red energy depends mainly on the glass used and the processing. The lower the heat transfer value (U-value), i.e. the better the windows insulate, the more important the upstream chains of the frame materials become. The saving of red energy that windows have in the building complex also depends on consumer behavior.


Modern wooden windows already achieve a Uw value of 0.6 W/m²k. The standard is mostly 1.3 - 1.5 W/m²k. the replacement of old windows,
some of which still have U-values of 2 - 4 W/m²k are therefore always worthwhile. Modern wooden windows underline the character of buildings and have many technical and design advantages, such as very good insulation, stability and robustness even with slim profile sizes as well as a long service life (> 50 years). PVC windows, on the other hand, need supporting materials such as internal steel framework for stability and polyurethane foam for insulation to achieve comparable performance. The profile sizes
must be greater for the same stability. Above a certain window area, this can no longer be implemented with PVC, but only with wood or metal. After the usage phase, PVC frames usually have to be disposed of, while wooden frames can be recycled very easily.


The upstream chains and the origin of raw materials are becoming increasingly important for climate protection and biodiversity

But the better the insulation of windows, the more important the upstream chains of the frame material become for the overall ecological footprint of the window.


Spruce, larch and pine are mostly used for the wooden frames. But even in Europe, 30% of windows and doors are still made from tropical wood such as meranti or plantation wood such as eucalyptus.

Meranti mostly comes to Europe from Malaysia or via Malaysia from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Today, felling takes place almost exclusively in primary forests (HVH Fensterstudie, 2020). According to the IUCN, 17 Meranti species are critically endangered in Asia, 21 are critically endangered, 19 are vulnerable, 12 are threatened and only 15 are near threatened... but what logger can do here
distinguish one species from the other? This means that under the collective term "Meranti" there will probably also be endangered species (see IUCN red list).

Red Grandis often comes from plantations in Brazil. In Brazil in particular, primary forests have mostly been cleared in recent years. Brazil has had the highest net forest loss of any country in the world (WCMC) in recent years. In addition, Brazil also acts as a transit country for timber that has been illegally felled elsewhere (WCMC, cf. GIS maps HVH Fensterstudie, 2020).

With construction elements made of wood, you are on the safe side when it comes to climate protection and the protection of global biodiversity.

bottom of page