Building Green: How Copper can LEED the Way

Have you ever considered the green attributes of copper? Copper has been used for centuries as an aesthetically pleasing building material that resists corrosion and oxidation. The many alloys of Copper, such as it’s brasses and bronzes, are visually stunning. The visual attributes, coupled with Copper’s unique physical and mechanical properties, ensures that designers and building owners can achieve their visual  and performance specifications, but also are able to meet their environmental and cost performance goals.

Copper products are durable, low maintenance, reusable and recyclable. In fact, many copper-containing building products have high recycled content; often 80% or more. Building applications for copper metals range from the building envelope to the equipment used in the building, such as, roof and wall cladding, flashing, gutters, and downspouts. Copper roofs and cladding do NOT have to be replaced, often lasting over a century. This longevity eliminates the need to use new roofing material and prevents the waste generated from other old, worn roofing material. The higher initial cost of using copper is offset by low to virtually no maintenance costs over the operational life of the building. Because Copper has a minimal impact on energy consumption and natural resources, its use has an extremely positive impact on energy efficiency, indoor air quality, as well as, life cycle costs.

Copper’s benefits extend beyond construction completion. When a building is demolished, all of the copper is recyclable. Nearly all of the copper that has ever been mined is still in use today. With the exception of high performance wiring applications, recycled copper maintains its performance attributes through the recycling process, and is NOT down-cycled into lower value products.

Copper contributes to achieving LEED credits by saving energy and reducing a building’s carbon footprint. The bottom line is that for an addition upfront cost of about 2% to support green design, there is an average life-cycle savings of approximately 20% of total construction costs.

Where Copper Counts    

  • Innovation & Design Process (LEED) Innovation in Design
  • Materials & Resources (LEED) Building Reuse, Recycled Content
  • Energy & Atmosphere (LEED) Optimal Energy Performance
  • Competitive Operation, Maintenance & Energy Costs (BEES)
  • Comfort of Indoor Occupant
  • Sources: Copper Development Association (CDA)

How Copper Helps

  • Recycled Content
  • Envelopes, roofs, plumbing
  • High efficiency wiring
  • Passive solar heating
  • Low maintenance exteriors
  • Sunshades, plumbing,  and Internal monitoring systems
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