To truly understand a product's environmental 'footprint', its entire life cycle needs to be evaluated. This is known as LCA. Through this form of assessment environmental effects associated with a product's manufacture may often be counterbalanced over time by a reduction in transportation and installation coasts and the benefit of a long, beneficial, low-impact life. For example, emissions associated with PVC window production compared to wooden windows are far outweighed by decades of energy-saving benefits and not having to replace them as quickly or apply preservative paints or chemicals.
PVC products perform favourably in terms of energy efficiency, thermal-insulating value, low contribution to greenhouse gases, low maintenance, and product durability.
Recent life-cycle studies show the health and environmental impacts of PVC building products are comparable to or less than the impacts of most alternatives.