With household electricity prices in Australia having risen more than 110 per cent in the past five years, and projections showing no end in sight to these rises, it’s comes as no surprise that having the most energy efficient home possible is one of the top priorities for Australian homeowners to help reduce power bills.
Of particular focus, due to Australia’s massively varying climate, the overtaxing of air conditioners and heating systems as one of the biggest contributors to these bills. It’s no secret insulation is crucial to minimising their usage, and with up to 40 per cent of heating lost and 87 per cent of heat gained through windows, window shutters play a crucial role in the insulation of a home.
Of all the shutter options, timber provides the highest level of thermal insulation, approximately four times that of brick, ten times that of concrete and four hundred times that of steel. And of all the commonly available timber shutters, the low-density and high proportion of air spaces of Western Red Cedar make it the best thermal insulator.
Of course energy efficient design isn’t all about reducing damage done to the back-pocket. Reducing damage to the planet, and building a sustainable future, is the most important challenge facing the building and design industry today.
This challenge of sustainable architecture goes well beyond product performance, and begins right back with the sourcing of the raw materials used for the final product. As timber is one of the most important natural resources we have, it is imperative that the timber used for our built environment is sourced sustainably.
Today, more than 85 per cent of timberland in British Colombia, Canada, (where most Western Red Cedar comes from) is certified by independent forest certification agencies. This ongoing push for sustainable forestry has resulted in North American Forests having grown 20 per cent since 1970.
In addition to this, Western Red Cedar is 100 per cent renewable, ensuring a truly sustainable life cycle. Alternatively, man-made materials such as vinyl cannot be broken down or renewed and inevitably will end up in landfill.
The gap between raw material and finished product is often one of the most overlooked but also most important elements of sustainable design. With the building industry one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the idea of sustainable manufacturing is becoming more important than ever.
The sustainability of the manufacturing process can be measured by the embodied energy of a material. Embodied energy measures the energy consumed by all the manufacturing processes, from the processing of the material, to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.
Timber has the lowest embodied energy of any major building material, far and away outperforming man-made materials such as concrete, steel and plastics.
Australia’s most-awarded shutter maker and the creator of the original plantation shutter, OpenShutters specialise in the manufacture and distribution of Western Red Cedar shutters sourced from sustainably managed forests in North America.
Western Red Cedar provides not only a highly sought-after aesthetic quality, but also far outperforms other similar shutter and blind options in thermal performance.
Since its inception, OpenShutters has been committed to the idea of sustainable manufacturing. This ongoing commitment was exhibited with the $100,000 investment in a 40kW solar power system at its factory on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
The investment, which includes the installation of over 100 solar panels, will help contribute greatly to OpenShutters ongoing efforts to manufacture the highest quality timber shutter products with the lowest environmental impact.