In Europe, plastic pipe systems are used everywhere around the home and throughout buildings. Often hidden, their presence is essential for the purposes of hot & cold water, heating & cooling, soil & waste, ventilation, air conditioning, sprinklers, rainwater gutters, etc. Without their contribution to sanitary wellbeing, life would be almost unimaginable.
Their versatility in terms of product design has matched the stringent requirements of modern building techniques superbly. Exciting developments such as geothermal heating, underfloor heating and ceiling cooling are changing the way society is managing energy efficiency.
Even their noise and heat insulation properties help create a quiet and energy sustainable lifestyle. And it is in the area of sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental impact that these systems are strongly delivering. One EU legislative driver is 'The Energy Performance in Buildings Directive.' which is already prompting member governments to draft new building regulations.
New guidelines for sustainable buildings are designed to lessen impact on the environment and to minimise associated energy costs and resources. This holds true throughout all phases of the life cycle of a building - from design to demolition.
Plastic pipes have thus become the material of choice for the building industry. Their growth in volume and market share continues year on year, backed by training and experience in plastic pipe installation techniques.
This competitive edge is also explained by lower installation costs related to light weight and easy installation and handling; the result is high penetration of plastic pipes systems:
The American NHAB Research Center recently published the results of their comparison of material and labour costs involved in plumbing identical houses with PEX and with copper.
Whilst plastic pipe systems play a vital role in new build, they are rapidly becoming first choice in the growing market of renovation. Renovation is set to accelerate. High levels of construction in the 50's and 60's are leading to high levels of renovation in the short and medium term. An enormous potential for plastic pipes!
Full Life Cycle analyses of plastics reveal excellent environmental performance, particularly when compared with more traditional materials.
Energy consumption of the manufacturing process is very low and raw material production compared to metal pipes is a major benefit.