The merits of ditching plastic


With sustainability at the top of many homebuyers’ agenda, it’s time to move over to metal

Whether it comes from planners, developers or homebuyers, pressure on the construction industry to be more sustainable is increasing as environmental concerns rise.

Guttering and drainpipes have for decades been mainly made from plastic, but with demand shifting builders can access Rainclear products made from metals.

The company sells only metal products and although best-known for rainwater systems, Rainclear also supplies fascias and soffits, window pods, copings, flat-roof outlets, door canopies, carports, verandas and pergolas, among much else.

“End users… want something less harmful to the planet than plastic”

Marketing executive Fiona Nevada says the door canopies are a recent addition to Rainclear’s range. These are made from aluminium and can be supplied with a side panel, which is “a sustainable product and very contemporary looking”, she says.

The canopies are set at an angle and come with an integral drainage system in which water is directed to the front corner of the door canopy, and then through a hidden downpipe in the side panel to the ground, “so it’s not going to pool on the top, but it’s also not going to slide off and become like a waterfall in front of your doors”, Nevada says.

She thinks such products may particularly interest small and medium-sized housebuilders constructing three-to-four houses at a time. Rainclear likes to work at such a scale, although it also supplies to volume housebuilders.

She finds sustainability is an important factor when choosing materials, driven largely by end users who want something less harmful to the planet than plastic.

Rainclear has recently added rooflights to its range, including examples accepted for use on heritage buildings by conservation officers. It supplies the entire unit, including the glass. These are designed to be easy to install on any pitched roof to bring natural light into a building.

Concern about sustainability leads to homeowners seeking metals alternatives to be installed, such as galvanised steel or aluminium guttering and drainage, Nevada says. Aluminium is more costly than steel because it does not rust. She says the galvanised steel comes with a coating that prevents rust but aluminium can stay in good condition for up to 40 years.

“Sometimes suppliers try to dissuade clients and say they’d rather put up the plastic, but the homeowners are being adamant because of the green credentials of using metal instead of a fossil fuel petrochemical,” she adds.

Rainclear has now added a galvanised steel box gutter to its range, which offers a new design option and higher capacity than the traditional half round gutters.

Also relatively new to its range are aluminium verandas with a choice of glass or polycarbonate roof panels. These provide a large canopy across the back of a house. They can also come with side panels and sliding doors to make a glassed-in room, although unlike a conventional conservatory they do not require foundations.

The company also now supplies architectural aluminium planters. These help attract wildlife into gardens, and come in plain mill finish or polyester powder coated with a choice of 26 colours.

As demand for more environmentally friendly products increases, Rainclear expects those who have previously chosen plastic automatically will start to look more closely at what metal can offer.

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