Plastic piping systems are fundamental to every building project. Applications include hot and cold water supply, heating and cooling including underfloor heating, district heating, ventilation, air conditioning, sprinklers and above ground drainage such as soil, waste, overflow and rainwater.
A series of six bulletins to introduce Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and how to use them in building design to aid product choice for sustainable plumbing systems.
Plastic hot and cold plumbing systems offer many benefits. The pipe can be used straight from the coil and cut to length in situ. They are lighter in weight and easier to transport than metal materials. The ability to bend pipes to fit reduces jointing and wastage. Plastic piping systems do not corrode and are resistant to the build-up of limescale. No mechanical noise results in a quieter system and hot pipes are cooler to the touch. Increased demands for energy efficient buildings have led to an increase in the installation of radiant surface heating systems such as underfloor heating and an increase in building insulation within the property. These well insulated buildings therefore also need ventilation and air conditioning. Plastic piping systems are used extensively for these applications, not only in new building but increasingly in renovation projects. Specialised plastic piping systems are also increasingly used in highly aggressive industrial applications.
Plastics have a lower carbon footprint through their life cycle than other materials for pipes. When they reach their end of life, they can be recycled meaning they have an important role to play in contributing to the circular economy.
PVC-U rainwater systems have been in use for decades as gutters, downpipes and fittings in domestic housing throughout the UK. Soil and waste plastic piping systems are light, easy to handle on site and simple to install. Their advantages have made them the common choice in most markets.